Mt. Rogers – Day 3: Old Orchard Shelter to Grindstone Campground

After analyzing the map, I decided that I would end my trip this day with a return to Grindstone Campground via the Iron Mountain Trail.  I continued the downhill hike on the AT through the largest portion of rhododendrons that I had seen so far on the trip, bottoming out where the trail crosses SR 603 near the Fox Creek Horse Camp.  After crossing the road, the AT is a steady climb up to reach the top of Hurricane Mountain.  During this portion, I ran into several more SOBO AT hikers.

Once on top of Hurricane Mountain, I went west on the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.  I believe this portion could have been the original Appalachian Trail, as I read it was rerouted in the not-to-distant past to include Whitetop Mountain and the balds in the highlands.  Given that this was a horse trail, it was not a pleasant experience.  The surface was very muddy and rutted with hoof prints, making it a slower, sloppier walk.

Muddy Iron Mtn Trail

Fortunately, I was only on it for less that two miles until I reached the Cherry Tree Shelter, an old, original AT shelter.  I had another dehydrated meal, so I decided to take a break and have it for lunch.  While cooking, a couple on horses arrived from Richmond who are regulars to the region and I had a nice chat with them.  They recommended coming around Father’s Day in order to experience the rhododendrons blooming.

Cherry Tree Shelter on Iron Mtn Trail

The rest of the hike was a downhill walk to SR 603 and the campground on a dirt road.

GPS Track Day 3 7.8 miles and 1350′ elevation gain.

<– Day 2

 

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One thought on “Mt. Rogers – Day 3: Old Orchard Shelter to Grindstone Campground

  1. Pingback: Mt. Rogers – Day 2: Thomas Knob Shelter to Old Orchard Shelter – Hiking Journeys

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