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Mount Rogers - The Summit EarthCache

Hidden : 03/05/2009
2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Size: Size:   not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

Massie Gap - The Start (the easy part)

After arriving at the Grayson Highlands Park, drive to the Massie Gap parking area (see coordinates). Follow the obvious trail (Rhododendron) through the meadow north to the Appalachian Trail (white blazes). Follow the AT up Wilburn Ridge through the Rhododendron Gap to the Thomas Knob shelter. From the shelter, take the Mount Rogers Spur trail to the summit for less than .6 of a mile. From parking it will be about 4.5 miles and an elevation change of over 1000 feet. This is a difficult climb through meadows, rock slide areas, boulder fields and very rocky trails. Please do not bring small children. It is too far to carry them and too far and dangerous for them to walk. Even adults must be in pretty good condition. WARNING: I cannot emphasize enough that this is a difficult climb. The above photo is deceptive because that is the very easy start! Many hikers have had to be rescued form the mountain. Severe weather changes are common with significant temperature drops and instant rain and/or snow. Look at the difference between the above Massie Gap and the below Summit photos. Those pictures were taken on the same day which shows a small amount of snow at the beginning versus the end of the trip! We went from a 'scattering' of snow to a foot or more of the white stuff!

Mount Rogers was named after William Barton Rogers who was the State’s first geologist. He was educated at William and Mary and was a professor of natural philosophy and chemistry there from 1828 to 1835. He later founded M.I.T.


Mount Rogers is the highest point in Virginia and most are not aware that it is an extinct volcano. Mount Rogers is part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, which is considered to be one of the oldest mountain chains in the World. The birth of the mountains is dated from 450 to 300 million years ago. This birth occurred when the supercontinent Pangaea was formed by the collision of major mountain building tectonic plates. The Appalachian mountains along with the Mount Rogers chain were near the middle of the supercontinent. Because Africa and North America were connected, the Appalachian Mountains were part of the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco.
During the rifting of the mountains by collusion of the plates, pressures deep within the Earth built and were released by the formation of volcanoes. Geologists have proven that volcanoes were once very active here by an examination of the rocks. The only way the type of rocks that are found on Mount Rogers are formed, are by extreme heat as in the lava or magma of volcanoes.

The Formation Of Igneous Rocks

Speaking of rocks, Mt Rogers rocks are predominately igneous. As stated earlier, only very high temperatures, as in volcanic activity, formed the rocks of Mt. Rogers. These rocks are one of the three major classifications of rocks. The other two are metamorphic and sedimentary which entirely different than igneous rocks. Sedimentary rocks are just what the name implies, formed by sediments and metamorphic rocks are rocks, which were metamophisized (structurally changed) by tremendous pressures and heat. Of the types of igneous rocks, Mt. Rogers rocks are extrusive meaning they were shot and/or flowed out of the volcanoes as opposed to being intrusive which remained underground. Granite is a common example of an intrusive rock. The extrusive rocks, which form the many high outcrops leading to the summit and the summit itself, are mainly rhyolite. The color variations lend to the beauty of the area. Unfortunately, like the saying,”its not the destiny, it’s the trip itself” certainly applies to Mt. Rogers. Several small and very large rhyolitic knobs and outcroppings will occupy your viewing pleasure during the trip to the summit.You may even be greeted my some of the ‘wild’ ponies which live in the area. Other than a few small rock outcroppings, the top of Mt. Rogers is a fairly dense spruce/fir forest. There is a nearby benchmark to be found in the quiet green woods. Reaching the summit will take some time (allow 3 to 4 hours) because there will be many, many photographic opportunities and just plain sight seeing.

A Little Trail Buddy

The Summit - Winter Style (the hard part is over!)

Note: In order for you to claim a find of this EC you must: 1. Post a photo of your entire party standing with the rock in the background (at the given coordinates) and your GPSr in hand, If you do not want to show your face in the photo, an alternative is to photograph your GPSr pointing to the rock. 2. Email answers to the following questions; a. What is the elevation shown on your GPSr and b. What colors do you see in the outcropping? Emails only, do not post answers.

We hope you have a wonderful time and even though the trip is kind of difficult, we are sure that you will agree this area has few equals! Be sure to find the very nearby Benchmark (FZ2155). Remember, Earthcaches rock or at least many are rock!

This Earthcache was approved by the Geological Society of America

We have earned GSA's highest level:


Additional Hints (Decrypt)

"Pyvzo rirel zbhagnva", be ng yrnfg guvf bar!

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)