Hungry Mother State Park in southwestern Virginia is noted for its woodlands and lake. Easily accessible from Interstate 81, this park has folklore and history, swimming, camping, cabin rentals, boat rentals, hiking and the park systems first conference center, Hemlock Haven. Much of the land for Hungry Mother State Park was donated by local landowners to develop a new state park in Smyth County on Hungry Mother Creek. The park is one of six original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) parks in Virginia that opened in June 1936. The Legend of Hungry Mother Legend has it that when the Native Americans destroyed several settlements on the New River south of the park, Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders base north of the park. They eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness eating berries. Molly finally collapsed, and her child wandered down a creek until the child found help. The only words the child could utter were "Hungry Mother." The search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly collapsed to find the child's mother dead. Today that mountain is Mollys Knob, and the stream is Hungry Mother Creek. Hemlock Haven Conference Center: (276) 781-7425 - Reserved by Hemlock Haven. This in-holding of Hungry Mother State Park, long serving as an Episcopal Church camp, was purchased by the state in 1986. After considerable refurbishing, the facility opened in 1989. Facilities include meeting rooms, cabins, a sports complex and picnic area. Packages and fees vary. Call the conference center at (276) 781-7425 for more information and reservations. Cabins are reserved through the State Parks Reservation Center, 1-800-933-PARK. Catering is available through the Hungry Mother Restaurant.
I did the Molly Knob & vista trail which was a great work out. I was greeted at the summit being swarmed with thousands of termites ( I believe as were black ants that flew). I also did the CCC and the lake loop. It was so pretty. I relaxed by the shelter for an hour listening to the breeze in the tree leaves and watching the fish jump in the lake. There was so many great views. I went for a swim
And then had to make myself leave. It's is a magnificent palace for hiking, biking, and lots to do for the entire family from fishing, swimming and paddle boating. I can't wait to take others back with me. I'm so glad I spent the day there instead of rushing to the devil bath tub after summiting The knob. The rangers are very nice and informative as well as well as you can print the map outside forms machine is the office is closed.
We hiked Clyburn Ridge Trail yesterday- beautiful views at top of ridge; moderately challenging due to climbing and descending repeatedly but slope is fairly gentle. Trail is well marked and there are benches in a couple of places if you need a little break. Very nice hike.
Just a notion the first reviewer's comments about the trails not being flat. The Molly's Knob (or the Knob trail as some of us locals call it) is not for the faint of heart, or at least not if you're not in good shape. The beginning of the trail is easy enough, but as you near the top, it gets a lot harder and steeper. All the other trails in the park, Especially the Lake Loop, are great for beginner to moderate day hikers. Nothing long enough for a backpacker, but a wonderful park overall! :)
Aaron H. on Hungry Mother State Park
The Hungry Mother State Park, located just outside of Marion, Va., has several trails with in the park boundary. This means that you must pay to get to them. That is, of course, unless you park just outside of the gate. This parking area is unpaved and is usually full during the summer time. They can be seen as you are approaching the lake from the Marion side of Highway 16. There are three pullouts along the side of the road that are free parking areas. Basically, if it's paved, you must pay.
These free areas are located right along the main trail, The Lake Loop, a 5.7 mile trail that, as you guessed, loops the whole lake. Other trails come off of the Lake Loop. These trails include Molly's Vista Trail (0.4 miles), Molly's Knob Trail (1.9 miles), The CCC (1.9 miles), and the Ridge Trail (0.2 miles). The area also has a few trails that are not attached to the Loop Trail, these are called Raiders Run Trail (0.9 miles), Old Shawnee Trail (1.0 mile), and the Stone Lick Trail (0.8 miles).
I have biked most of these trails. There is no trail in the whole park that is flat. They may have flat spots but that is it. Remember, you are in the mountains.
As for the Review, this one is for The Lake Loop Trail. This is the most popular trail so it is going to be the busiest. This trail is usually groomed and is relatively wide in all areas. At least wide enough for bikers to comfortable pass others using the trail. Keep in mind that there are many blind corners and grades so keep speed to a safe speed when you can't see around the next corner.
The trail is moderately demanding in some areas. Most of the trail has descent grades and can be finished in about 45 minutes. There are a few bridges that get really slick when wet or frosty! Trust me, they will take your bike away if you do not line up correctly and usually end up throwing you into the creek (which is fine if it is August). The trail is open year round but if there is snow or it is cold, the down hill parts will most definitely make your ears freeze. In the summer, I like to ride the trail because most of it is covered and this helps keep you pretty cool. But if that doesn't work, just go take a swim afterward.
I hope you enjoy the trail as much as I do! I hope to see you out there soon.
(The trail details are just from the last ride I did before the snow fell and finals got in the way. I will be out again and again every season)