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
I believe in creating your own adventure. Writing your own story. That’s why, in the middle of a global pandemic, my wife and I decided to move our family from the comforts of our small South Georgia community to the magical mountains of Boone, NC. After several years of exploring, we’ve found that we’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to discover! We’ve fallen in love with the rivers, trails, and trees, and with the people that make Boone such a special place to live.

My wife, Erin, and I are parents to three amazing children (Scout, River, & Forest) and two mostly-amazing dogs (Lewis & Remus). We spend our free time paddling the rivers in the summer, snowboarding and skiing in the winter, and eating and drinking at the most amazing local restaurants year-round. So, if you’d like assistance creating your next adventure, and you hear the High Country calling, please let me know! I’d love to help you write the next chapter of your story.