Appalachian Trail to Scales Trail Loop

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Grayson Highlands State Park

Appalachian Trail to Scales Trail Loop is a 10.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Mouth of Wilson, Virginia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length10.2 miElevation gain1,729 ftRoute typeLoop
BackpackingCampingHikingNature tripsBird watchingRunningDog friendlyForestViewsWildflowersWildlife
Description
Waypoints (1)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

Grayson Highlands State Park has multiple facilities available including camping, visitors center, gift shops, country store, toilets and hot showers. Scales has a pit toilet available for use.

Mount Rogers NRA (800-628-7202) and Grayson Highlands State Park (800-933-PARK)

As of June 2020, this trail is experiencing full or partial closure (parking lot and bathrooms) due to COVID-19. Please visit the park website for more updated information. Located in Grayson County in the far southwest corner of Virginia, just a short distance from the North Carolina border. It can be reached by traveling on I-81 South to Marion, VA. At Marion take VA 16 South (Buchanon Highway) to Trout Dale. From there head west on VA 603. In 2 miles make left onto USFS 613. After about 2.5 miles go through gate and park within fenced camping/parking area. Trailhead is marked as Appalachian Trail, just beside camp host trailer. Note, USFS 613 is a very rough road, not really intended for passenger cars. Though I did make the trip in a minivan, something with a more reasonable clearance is definately recommended.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (51)
Photos (358)
Activities (38)
Completed (238)
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Greg Tyree
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Hiking
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Yowana Wamala
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HikingMuddy

If you want to see wildlife, drive up Pine Mountain Road and park at Scales. Find another trail to hike for views. This trail was horse s*** (literally). I've never seen so much poop in my life. Scales Trail should be for horses only; it was poured-in rocks and a steep incline without a view, offering no redeeming qualities for humans on foot. At top, the view from Scales was average (6/10), and there were a decent number of ponies and cows along the mountaintop area. The Appalachian Trail portion was interesting with a few small bridges over running water. The rest was dense forest.

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Ali Jaffry
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BackpackingMuddy

What an amazing experience. Parts of this trail, primarily after the multi-trail head marker, is pretty strenuous (all uphill) and may be difficult for those who are beginners but the views are worth it. There are plenty of vistas along this trail that make it worth. A group of us decided to take our time with this trail over two days and found a beautiful campsite along the way. Plenty of ponies along the way as well, who walked over to us for pets and photos (do not feed them). Be careful on the way back because there are several ways to get lost. On the way back we accidentally took a wrong turn and found ourselves going through dense forest and under barbed wire fences (wrong way!). Although we ultimately made it back into the trail, we lost a couple hours and that deterred our experience slightly. Despite that, this is a phenomenal trail and will recommend for everyone to try at least once. Watch out for the feces!

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Jimmy Parson
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Hiking

The wife and I are average hikers and we really enjoyed this hike today! Enjoyed it so much I’m writing my first review. And here...we...go! We started at the backpacker parking lot (side note, this lot is closed due to the Rona so we parked off the main road and walked down to the parking lot). The trail starts on the AT Spur trail marked with blue then you hang a right onto the AT. This junction is a nice open area and has some nice rocks where we enjoyed our mid-morning snack. This is also a nice downhill to start the day. Keep that in mind as you’ll be walking back up this SOB at the end of the day when you’re tired. The grade wasn’t bad so don’t let that deter you. Trucking along, we stayed on the AT. We did miss a right turn at some point, damn newbies, and walked along, what I believe was a horse trail for about a quarter mile before realizing the white blazes were no more. Turned around and got back on track, that was our only navigation error all day. Before reaching the Spur trail, we enjoyed the best part of the trail, in our opinion. Great overlook and 360 views. Flowers were in full bloom and we definitely took our time here. Stay left at the pasture parking lot and you’ll see the trailhead for the Spur trail. The trail is not marked but very easy to follow. Mostly gravel trail and you’ll eventually connect back to the AT where you’ll turn right and retrace you’re steps back to the car. I wore trail runners and didn’t get my feet wet at all. The terrain is a good mix. A little bit of roots, rock, creek bed, dirt, and gravel. A few rock hops on larger rocks but overall a fairly easy trek. Saw a few ponies on the trail just before connecting to the Spur trail. We think the trail is closer to 11 miles based on our FitBits(yes, I did subtract our navigation error from this). Looking forward to doing this one with friends, overall a great hike!

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Elin Reuben
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Hiking

Lots of fun on this trail! Be sure to wear good hiking boots as there are lots of rocks and roots. Also, some of the wildlife have huge horns so there are some moments you have to be brave! There are beautiful open fields and tons of flowers to see and birds to hear sing. We hiked this on a beautiful day and there were views as far as the eye could see! Elin

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Kevin Garner
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Hiking

My review is somewhat jaded by the rain/mist on the day I was there. This is a beautiful area that is not to be missed. It is well maintained and wide at points. Not only do you get beautiful rolling hills, but there is a herd of wild ponies. I was able to see two babies when I was there, which made the trail worth it. The trail is clean, but there are a few creek crossings that you will need to be strategic about, even if you have waterproof shoes. High recommend this trail.

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Jeanna Beck
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Hiking

I chose this trail for a trail run. It was a bit rocky and rooty in some spots, but overall good. If you want to see wild ponies away from the crowds, this is a great spot. Beautiful views along the way, and a few water sources.

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Mark Millham
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Hiking

weekend was great good weather. trail s allbaround easier than the mt rogers side of the park. lots of water crossings that were dry due to weather. deviated up scales trail to scales trailhead. had to scare off a bear half way up. would do this again any day.

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Carolyn Genay
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HikingRocky

This loop in beautiful Grayson Highlands was spectacular! It would make for a great day hike or an overnight. We chose to do an overnight with our dog, starting at the backpacker's lot (Appalachian Spur Trail). On this hike, you'll follow the Spur Trail (blue blaze) to the AT (white blaze) to the Scales Trail back to the AT (white blaze). We chose to hike about 7 miles the first day in order to make it back near the Wise Shelter since there is a food-storage locker (bear box) nearby, as recommended due to recent bear sightings. Here are a few places of clarity for the loop that I was confused about: 1. When you come to a junction of a wide uphill gravel trail, take a left & follow it up; 2. When you reach the giant fenced-in field, you've reached Scales Mtn so now you'll need to follow the AT towards Massie Gap (be prepared for the photo-op here, the views are amazing). Overall, a great, thorough hike. We saw plenty of wild cattle and horses. Be prepared for some rocky terrain and a few creek crossings and you'll have a wonderful hike!

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Charley Tyre
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Hiking

Excellent trail for a moderate hike for hikers with a dog friend. A little muddy when we went in April, but otherwise conditions were great. Variety of trail surroundings, forest, open balds, pasture. Great camping locations always near water when we were there.

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Zac Trautman
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Camping

just went to the wise shelter for the evening after a long drive. solid

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Kait Neely
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HikingMuddy

Beautiful views and lovely changes of scenery. The trail was hard to follow at times (blazes are hard to spot). I took a couple wrong turns but the AllTrails app helped me find my way back. We’ve had a lot of rain recently and parts of the trail were full on creeks and many parts were very muddy (including shady frozen spots). Will definitely come back in the spring!

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BYRON GUY
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Hiking

From an elevation standpoint this is definitely a moderate rating but when you factor in the roots and the rocks it makes this hike much more difficult.

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Joe Higgins
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Hiking

Beautiful high county nothing to steep but still vary rock and awesome the ponies are cool some are friendly and some not so friendly but it's beautiful and I highly recommend it

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WES EASTERLING
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Hiking

Great hike to get out doors and see nature. I did this hike in early April and was able to see and talk to Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers as they came thru.

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Mark Booher
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Hiking

One of the better experiences I've ever had in the backcountry. Our group got to get up pretty close to the ponies and it was just an excellent adventure. We can't wait to go back and climb mt. rogers!

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Teana Overton
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Dominic Reitman
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Hiking

Awesome trail with great views. I actually did this loop starting and finishing from the Thomas Knob shelter at the tail end of a four day backpacking trip from Damascus. In August there were blackberries a plenty and I ended up not diving into my gorp sack the entire day. As always the free range ponies are fun to watch in this area. Highly recommend this area for hiking. I've included a link to my full write-up on this hike.

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Ben Harris
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Hiking

Great hike and beautiful area, highly recommend doing in snow if you get the chance. Did the loop from Grayson highlands backpacker lot to scales on the AT then from scales to mount Rogers. Camped along pine mountain trail near water source on the way to Rogers. Luckily I got to get this hike in a couple days after hurricane sandy and there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground. Moderate hike with little map skills required, just make sure if you bring a dog they listen well while not on a leash, wild ponies are in abundance at times.

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Dave Gissel
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Hiking

Great trail. Some very challenging terrain but good places to catch her breath in Flats as well. Amazing views of the Appalachian range. I will be back for the leaf change in fall. And a good loop in an area that's hard to map out a loop hike. I would park at Grayson Highlands backpacker overnight parking lot as opposed to scales. Hike this southbound on the AT.

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Sarah Blasi
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Ed Hovrud
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Yancey Wilmoth
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Rebecca Smitherman
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Jon Pierce
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kimmy clarke
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Elijah Bradshaw
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Haley Dixon
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Eric Salyer
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Joey Norman
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