MARION, Va. (WJHL)- Nearly an hour and a half from Johnson City, in Marion, Virginia, sits Hungry Mother State Park. This well-kept park provides some beautiful lookout points that hikers can easily find off of any of the trails. The trails at this park are not difficult to spot, and easy to climb. However, you can expect some steep inclines if you’re headed all the way up to Molly’s Knob.
The Molly’s Knob Trail offers multiple spots to stop. Trail Team 11 only ventured up to the first lookout point, which provides some incredible views of the Molly’s Knob mountain.
From trailhead to lookout is about 1-mile round trip and is extremely easy for hikers of any skill set. If you only want to hike up to this spot, it’s important to know that this section of the trail ends when you reach the spot where the Ridge Trail intersects. Commonly confused as a loop trail, the Molly’s Knob Trail is actually a there-and-back trail. Molly’s Knob is the highest point in the entire Hungry Mother State Park.
At the top of Molly’s Knob, which is 3,270 feet in elevation, sits two very important trees. The two American Chestnut trees are some of the last of their kind; they’re actually classified as functionally extinct. An invasive fungus killed off many of the trees starting in the early 1900s. So, while the trees at the top actually have that fungus, they are much older and have adapted to their conditions.
Hungry Mother is home to deer, coyotes, foxes, squirrels and raccoons. They’re also home to bears, something a sign warns you about before you begin your hike.
“We always do like to tell people about bears because they’re something you need to be aware of, you need to be careful about, but we don’t really have trouble with our bears here,” Ranger Lily Kingsolver said. “We have bear safe trashcans, and since those have gone in we’ve seen a drastic reduction in the number of bear sightings we have. So we feel that most of the bears around here are just trying to get a snack.”
The week that the Trail Team 11 crew hiked through Hungry Mother was also the week that the invasive Asian Lady Beetle was migrating through the park. This migration only lasts a week, but during that week the number of ladybugs at the top can be overwhelming as they swarm different parts of the park.