Virginia State Park Fees:
Standard Parking: $2/Weekdays, $3/Weekends
Horse Trailer Parking Fee: $3/Trailer Weekdays, $4Trailer Weekends
Daily Bus Parking: $12 Weekdays & Weekends
Boat Launch: $3 Weekdays, $3 Weekends
Hungry Mother, a 2,215-acre state park, is a particular favorite with families, especially because of its 108-acre lake. In the heart of the mountains, the lake has a sandy beach; a bathhouse; paddleboat, canoe, kayak, and rowboat rentals; and what many people consider to be the best northern pike fishing in the state. Bicycles are also for rent.
The park offers more than 12 miles of trails—it would be a shame not to do at least one hike. For a fairly flat and easy walk, try the Lake Trail, which runs for 3 miles along the lakeshore. The 1.1-mile-long Middle Ridge Trail and the 0.7-mile Ridge Trail are more challenging and afford some nice mountain views.
The park’s interpretive programs, offered in mid-June through Labor Day, with weekend programs in the fall, are so good that they are one of the reasons this park is popular with families. The offerings might include an interpretive horseback ride; guided nature hikes; a “Critter Crawl,” in which kids search for stream creatures such as salamanders and frogs; music, crafts, and local history; and nocturnal programs such as night hikes and star gazing. In addition, there are Junior Naturalist programs for older kids and Wee Naturalist programs for ages 2 to 5. In summer guided canoe tours are offered twice weekly at the lake. (Children at least 3 years old can participate with a parent.) Weekend programs are held in September and October. Check at the visitor center for schedule, and visit the Discovery Center exhibits while you’re there. The park hosts a three-day arts and crafts festival on the third weekend of July that features about 125 artisans with wares from toys to stained glass to paintings. The festival attracts about 15,000 people.