Day Trip Idea Near Boone: Grayson Highlands State Park

Adult pony and cattle in Grayson Highland State Park.

Adventure awaits in the 828 AND in many places very close to the 828!

In August, our family finally found the time to head to the Grayson Highlands State Park in Northwest Virginia, only about an hour’s drive from Boone, for a day trip.  The 4,500 Acre state park features hiking, camping, horse trails, waterfalls, wild ponies, access to the Appalachian Trail and more!  The views are unlike any others we have seen on the east coast.  The mountains, also called balds, are rocky in appearance and perfect for the kiddos to climb on.

Children with pony at Grayson Highland State ParkMeet the Wild Ponies

The balds are inhabited by a herd of introduced ponies allowed to run wild inside the park. The ponies are accustomed to humans and rarely stop what they are doing as hikers pass close by. Visitors to the park are discouraged from petting the ponies, but as you can see from the photos, the kids could not help themselves.  We also saw large cattle with horns that looked like bulls! They were a little intimidating, but left us alone.

Explore the Park Trails

There are also trails that you can ride horses on and trails for biking.  Be sure to stay on the trail!  We got lost several times trying to avoid mud on the trail by taking “short cuts”. I would encourage visitors of the park to have a plan mapped out ahead of time as there are many different trails and they are not all marked clearly.  There are everything from a 2 mile hike, up to however far you wish to go.  We did 9 miles and so did our 8 lb puppy!  If she can do it, anyone can. If you prefer to hot the waterway- they even offer canoe trips down the New River in the park.

Have a State Park Vacation!

If you want to make it a longer stay and explore more areas of the park, there is camping and even cabin rentals.  Grayson Highlands really has so much to offer, next time we will make it more than a day trip! Happy Adventuring!

About the Author
Sarah Long is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee. She has spent the last 24 years of her life in North Carolina. In 1997 she moved to Boone to attend Appalachian State University where she received her degree in Theatre Education and Communications. She met her husband, Matt Long, a Boone native and general contractor in a “communications class”. Sarah moved to Charlotte to teach soon after graduation. After 5 years of teaching, they were finally given the opportunity to move back to the place they love, the High Country of NC. In 2007 Sarah received her NC Real Estate License and began her new career. After 3 years in the business, she was presented with an opportunity to help open a Franchise Real Estate Company in the area. Lots of growing, education and relationships were formed over the years with this large brokerage. In 2018 Sarah made the decision to step away from a larger company and start to build a smaller, locally focused brokerage. 828 Real Estate is located in vibrant downtown Boone. It is a boutique brokerage firm that focuses on Quality, not Quantity. Sarah is a member of The High Country Association of Realtors, the North Carolina Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. She is also a member of the Boone Chamber of Commerce and on the board for Downtown Boone Development Association. She successfully completed the REALTOR e-PRO course to become one of a select few real estate professionals to earn the prestigious certification offered through the National Association of REALTORS.® The REALTOR e-PRO certification course is an educational program unlike any other professional certification or designation course available, comprehensive and interactive. It is specifically designed to provide real estate professionals with the technology tools needed to assist consumers in the purchase or sale property. On a personal note, Sarah and Matt have 2 beautiful children, Sadie Rose (11) and Levi (9). The Longs attend Alliance Bible Fellowship and stay connected by serving the community by supporting local non-profits like Western Youth Network, The Appalachian Theatre and Valle Crucis Community Park. The Longs love to spend time outside on hikes, on the river, playing with their pup, shredding the slopes and making the most of their time in this amazing place they get to call home!