From Grayson Highlands State Park, you have access to hundreds of miles of highland horse trails. (See Horse Haven Loop/Iron Mountain Loop below for example) These trails encompass Mount Rogers National Recreation Area(118,000 acres of natural wonderland that includes the Appalachian Trail; 5,730 acres of Lewis Fork Wildernesscontaining Mount Rogers, the tallest peak in Virginia (Elev 5,729′); 3,855 acres of the Little Wilson Creek Wilderness Area and the crest zone containing spectacular views with rocky ridges and open areas), George Washington National Forrest and Jefferson National Forrest. With access to thousands off acres provided by these forests, many days of horse/mule/llama packing or backpacking is yours without interruption. The variety of trails can easily accommodate the beginning rider. However, the Mount Rogers Wilderness Area can challenge even seasoned endurance riders.
The Horse Heaven Ridge area has several beautiful horse trails to explore. The Horse Heaven Loop to the north is a wider trail than the Iron Mountain Loop, along a moderate road-like grade. To the south, the Iron Mountain Trail is a more challenging ride with steeper grades and a mostly single-track path.
The Horse Haven Loop is open to horses, bikers and hikers. It is 8.75 miles in length with elevation changes from 2,720′ to 3,870′.
The Iron Mountain Loop is open to horses, bikers and hikers. It is 8.5 miles in length. It is moderate to difficult with elevation changes from 2,720′ to 3,800′.
Around every bend in the trail Mother Nature promises a special treat. From the tantalizing sounds of a refreshing, cool stream babbling over stones (bring along your swimsuit for the swimming hole), to the shaded leaves of hardwood trees, Mother Nature whispers your arrival to the resident wildlife. The deer and turkey seem almost immune to the quiet traveler. An added plus most of the year – hardly any horse flies, gnats and/or mosquitoes!
For those with an eye for discovery you might uncover the best kept treasures on the mountain – the wild pony herds. Tucked away in the valley coves live the beautiful wild ponies. Step back in time for just a brief visit and envision what the real “wild” west was like with herds of horses roaming free. Or better yet, plan your trip in the fall to the Grayson Highlands Fall Festival where the ponies are rounded up and the foals are sold at auction. There’s always room for one more in your barn at home!
For the hikers at heart, the ponies have been known to allow a nice head scratching now and then. Those with a yen for adventure can easily be satisfied with the miles and miles of backcountry dirt/gravel roads providing endless hours of exploration to the delight of both trail riders and buggies alike.
For those with a love of horses and unfortunate enough not to have their own personal traveling steed, there are rental horses available in the area. Reservations must be made with these companies several weeks prior to your visit.