Twin Pinnacles

While the most spectacular hike in Virginia is, in my opinion, the ascent of Wilburn Ridge (as described in one of my previous articles), perhaps the best “bang for the buck” hike in Southwest Virginia is the short hike known as Twin Pinnacles.  This is a 1.6 mile hike in Grayson Highlands State Park.  On September 25, 2011 after visiting the Grayson Highlands Festival my family did this little hike.

View from the Little Pinnacle

The trail begins right behind the Visitor Center.   The trail is a loop that takes you out to two pinnacles, or rock outcroppings, that have great views of the surrounding mountains.  The first pinnacle can be reached in less than 300 yards from the trailhead.   The pinnacles afford 300 degree views.  The view in the above photograph is looking south towards the North Carolina/Tennessee state line.  The view below is toward the north.  The rounded, frasier fir-covered hump at the top of the photo is Mount Rogers, the highest mountain in Virginia.

Mount Rogers View
Notice anything unusual in the photo above?  My son Isaac noticed the hawk on one of the outcroppings.  I have circled it below.  You can click on the photo below to enlarge it and see the bird a bit closer.  After a few minutes, it flew away, taking advantage of the thermals that rise up the mountainside.
Large Hawk at the Pinnacles

Looking back towards the north, you can also make out Wilburn Ridge as it rises from Massie Gap and climbs towards Mount Rogers.  In the photo below, it is the rocky ridge on the right side of the photo’

 
Wilburn Ridge View
On the second part of the trail, which involves some up-and-down climbing through some forest, we came across a resident in the middle of the trail who would not move.  Eventually, I had to get a long stick and move it out of the path.  The snake was almost three feet in length.  It was an eastern gartner snake, although I had not seen one this large before.  My daughter was not scared of it, and it seems to have been the most memorable part of the hike for her!
Gartner Snake on the Pinnacles Trail

After the hike, on the way down the mountain in our vehicle we saw a whole group of gobblers crossing the road.  Seeing wildlife like this in the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area is not unusual. 

Wild Turkeys

Overall, this was another nice day in the mountains.  The Twin Pinnacles Trail is a bit short in and of itself to justify a long trip to Grayson Highlands State Park.  It is, however, a perfect complement to a picnic or a nice side trip while visiting.  It is also a really good family hike:  Just the right distance for younger children or those looking for a less strenuous, shorter hike with great views.

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