- Posted June 7, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The world's best national parks
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Virginia's Wild Horses and Mountaintop Lake
Situated in the far southwestern mountains of Virginia is the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Comprised of more than 200,000 acres of National Forest land, the recreation area includes four separate congressionally designated wilderness areas and is home to hundreds of wild, free roaming ponies.
With much of Mount Rogers being located off the beaten path, it is not uncommon for hikers to spend an entire day traversing the more than 500 miles of trails in the area without crossing paths with a single human being.
In addition to being home to over 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the 48-year-old park contains a countless number of horseback riding trails that are used by an estimated one million horseback riders annually.
One of the area’s main attractions is the view atop the park’s 3,800’ summit at Iron Mountain, known as Comer’s Rock. Built on the foundation of a former fire tower, the Comers Rock Overlook straddles the county line of Virginia’s Wythe and Grayson counties, and offers visitors a 360 degree panoramic, mountaintop view of multiple states and communities below.
Being located 3.3 miles off the nearest paved road make the breathtaking view seen from Comer’s Rock is a specialty reserved only for those individuals willing to display the effort required to reach its crest.
A short hike below Comer’s Rock is a campground managed by the US Forest Service, where visitors are charged only $5 per night to pitch a tent and rest from the day’s hike. During the summer months, the campground includes bathrooms and running water.
A few miles west of the campground is Hale Lake, an oddity in itself, the high-elevation mountaintop lake is a popular destination for trout fishermen, bird watchers and hikers.
Named for William Barton Rogers, an early Virginia geologist and founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is among one of the world’s premier national parks.