Explore Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia
Looking for family fun in the mountains? Plan a trip to Hungry Mother State Park, where you’ll find outdoor activities suitable for all ages, plus some surprises.
Family Fun at Hungry Mother State Park
One of the crown jewels of the Virginia park system, Hungry Mother State Park has plenty of activities for a day trip or an overnight stay.. At the heart of the park is the 108-acre Hungry Mother Lake, which offers plenty of options for fishing, boating and swimming.
You don’t have to head to the coast for a beach trip. Every summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the park opens its sandy beach for guarded swimming. Kids of all ages will love the beach and dive tower, and nearby ice cream stand. The beach area also offers canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals.
While you’re at the park, be sure to stop by the Discovery Center on Park Boulevard. You’ll find maps, park information, and a gift shop, but the real must-see attraction is the wildlife exhibit, including the resident hellbender. Despite its frightening name and enormous size, the gentle hellbender is actually a species of salamander found in the creeks and rivers of the Appalachian Mountains. Learn more about this native amphibian and its fragile habitat inside the Discovery Center.
The park offers plenty of hiking trails, ranging from leisurely strolls around the lake, to more challenging hikes. The hike up to Molly’s Knob is one of the more strenuous routes, but absolutely worth it, for the sweeping view of Smyth County’s mountains.
Where to Stay
Hungry Mother State Park offers a variety of cabins, camping, and even yurts! Park lodging is open year-round, but some options are limited in the off season. If you’re planning to stay during the peak summer months, be sure to plan ahead. Some popular cabins stay booked solid from April to October.
RV camping is available at two sites, Camp Burson and Creekside, with a variety of electric and water hookups. There are plenty of tent camping spots available, and larger lodges for groups, clubs and or multi-family vacations.
In addition to lodging within the park, you’ll find plenty of vacation rentals just outside the park property.
The Legend (and the history) of Hungry Mother State Park
The park is one of six original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) parks in Virginia that opened in June 1936. Partly because of the role the CCC played in the park’s development and architecture, the park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Many of the original Civilian Conservation Corps structures are still standing today. Cabins 1-5 are log cabins built by CCC. Central heat and air have been added over the years, but the structure itself remains the same. All three shelters in the park are CCC structures, the stone restroom, closest to Shelter 3, is also. The park does a CCC Historical Walk that focuses on all the CCC structures and the Corps impact in the park. The Paddling in the Park canoe program also discusses the CCC history. As you read this, new programs are being developed to feature the importance of the CCC to Virginia State Parks.