Grayson Highlands, Virginia is a magical place. And it’s a photographer’s paradise in all seasons. I’ve backpacked the Appalachian Trail through the mountains of Grayson Highlands many times and in my opinion, it’s the most beautiful park on the east coast. It’s also one of the most photographed hikes on the east coast. It has a lot to offer, with Virginia’s highest peak at Mount Rogers and rolling hills through dense rhododendron. Visit in June and the hills will be covered in pink flowers. Not to mention the wild ponies, which are actually pretty friendly and will nibble at your pockets in search of a snack. Watch your fingers though. Sometimes they can get a little too friendly.

I was happy to share my favorite east coast adventure with Kealy and Garrett for their winter engagement session. The trails can be quite icy in the winter, but we really lucked out with the weather. Even though there was still some snow on the ground, it was actually quite warm outside. We first ventured through the woods to a frozen waterfall, where we popped open a bottle of champagne and had some laughs. Some of my favorite photos are of Kealy and Garrett hiking along a frozen wall with giant icicles hanging down.

Then we ventured on the Appalachian Trail in search of wild ponies. I knew the ponies can be a little reclusive, especially when it’s cold outside. So I ran ahead in search of them. It didn’t take me long to find a dozen of them grazing in a meadow. Kealy and Garret had lots of fun with the ponies. One pony, in particular, loved the taste of Kealy’s sweater. We hung out with the ponies until the sun began to set behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thanks so much Kealy and Garrett for adventuring with me. I enjoyed sharing my favorite east coast hike with you.

Josh Hartman – Traverse City Wedding Photographer

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