Bending gracefully towards the sky in Grayson County is Whitetop Mountain, the second highest point in the state of Virginia. It boasts a 5,520 foot elevation – only 209 feet less than the nearby Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia.
During the winter and spring months, an occasional snowfall in the higher elevations can remain on the western face of the mountain, and leave a large white snow patch that can be seen for miles away in southwestern Virginia, hence the name.
One interesting fact of the landscape of Whitetop and Mount Rogers is their respective geology. Researchers have discovered the presence of pyroclastic rocks - which indicate a history of past lava flows, but not since at least 750 million years ago.
In more recent history, Whitetop Mountain hosted the Whitetop Folk Festival between the years of 1932-1939. It was established by Annabel Morris Buchanan, John Blakemore, and John Powell. The festival featured fiddlers, string bands, storytellers, theatre, dancers and crafters as a celebration to the arts of the region. In its heyday, the festival even embraced a visit from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933. The festival was not held in 1937, and was canceled in 1940 due to heavy rains and flooding. Just above the parking lot near the Appalachian Trail, a few remnants of the festival pavilion still remain.
When visiting the higher elevations of Whitetop Mountain, be sure to prepare yourself with clothing for inclement weather. The weather can change at a moment’s notice! Take a hike to just below the peak of Whitetop on the Appalachian Trail to Buzzard’s Rock. The high peaks of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia are all visible from the vantage point there.
From Damascus, Va, follow Route 58 east for about 8 miles. Take a left onto VA-600. Approximately 1 mile later, make your next left onto the gravel road Mud Creek Lane, which takes you to the summit of Whitetop Mountain. There is a parking lot adjacent to the Appalachian Trail with camping nearby. Continue up the gravel road and it will take you to the summit where you can get a glimpse of the surrounding states, or even a breathtaking sunset.
The park in downtown Damascus where the Appalachian Trail and Virginia Creeper Trails meet will be packed full of food vendors and information booths ready to greet you. Various hiking gear vendors from around the country will be on the ready to assist with anyone who needs help with their equipment. It’s just another way that these various organizations will share their love of the trail and outdoor enthusiasts alike!
We will bring you a full schedule and information in our next issue in May. Don’t forget the Yard Sale that spans the entire town of Damascus the weekend prior to Trail Days, and the hiker parade that takes place every year down Main Street. Join us for this week long celebration of the trail!
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