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Easy Epics: 17 Drive-up Campsites a Backpacker Will Love

Combine the best of car camping (spacious tents, comfy chairs, frosty margaritas!) and the best of backpacking (deep solitude, outrageous scenery, swimming holes!) with these 17 accessible hideaways.

Mt. Rogers NRA
Hurricane Creek Road

Camp near Virginia’s highest point.

Appalachian Trail thru-hikers know the balds and wind-beaten pines crowning 5,729-foot Mt. Rogers and its surrounding uplands as the highest country they’ll encounter between the Roan Highlands in North Carolina and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. Little-known secret: Car campers can experience this same big-sky country, minus the 40-pound pack and ramen dinners. Simple plan: Find a pull-out campsite along the twisting, gravel Forest Road 84, aka “Hurricane Road,” on the north side of Hurricane Mountain, and you’ll have a weekend getawaywith easy-access high country. Towering stands of hemlock guard a lacey understory of mountain laurel and level tent sites. Target a 14.8-mile loop from nearby Grindstone Campground using the Mt. Rogers, Appalachian, and Old Orchard Trails for a greatest-hits tour of rhododendron-choked hollows and grassy balds. From the campground, you’ll climb to Mt. Rogers’s shoulder for widescreen views of Whitetop and Iron Mountains. Turn southeast onto the AT at Deep Gap, take a .5-mile spur to summit tree-covered Mt. Rogers, and then follow the AT over blocky Wilburn Ridge before looping back to Grindstone.

Get there
From Trout Dale, take VA 16 2.6 miles north to a left on Comers Creek Rd. Go 1.4 miles to a left on Hurricane Creek Rd. Begin scouting for pull-outs. UTM 17S 0456989E 4064031N
Map Mt. Rogers ($12, natgeomaps.com)
Contact fs.usda.gov/gwj; (540) 265-5100

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