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view of the lake at hungry mother state park in virginiaHungry Mother State Park lies in the heart of the southwestern mountains. It has been a family favorite vacation destination since it opened in June of 1936, one of the original 6 Virginia state parks.

This 3,334 acre wooded public recreation area surrounds a picturesque 108 acre lake and offers visitors a chance to swim, boat, fish, hike and camp.

The park’s name comes from a legend about a pioneer named Molly Marley and her son. Because of its origins and legend the park is now listed on the Register of Historical Places.

Things To Do

When you visit Hungry Mother State Park you’ll discover opportunities to explore, learn and relax. Spend some time on the lake or take a hike and observe the local wildlife.

Whether your visit is short or long you’ll appreciate breathing in the clean mountain air around you.

The Discovery Center is open year round and has a gift shop with crafts, books and snacks. They also have Park Packs that you can sign out that have information and games to help you learn about the park’s plants and wildlife.

The Hemlock Haven Conference Center and the Lakeview Event Facility have meeting rooms and catering options for special events, retreats and conferences. The Hemlock Haven Conference Center also includes cabins, a sports complex and a picnic area.


Hungry Mother State Park has a safe roped-off swimming area along its sandy beach. Swimming elsewhere in the park is prohibited.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day guarded swimming, a bathhouse and a snack bar are also available.


Spend a relaxing day on the lake during your visit to Hungry Mother State Park. A boat launch ramp is available for non-gasoline powered boats only.

Seasonal boat rentals are available from the last weekend in May until the end of October. These rentals include canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and paddle boards.


Hungry Mother Lake is an ideal spot for catching bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, bluegill, muskellunge and carp. Fish from the shore, boat or the universally accessible fishing pier.

Remember to pick up a freshwater fishing license ahead of time. You can purchase one online here.


view from molly's knob trail in hungry mother state park in virginia

View from Molly’s Knob trail.

There are more than 17 miles of trails for hiking or mountain biking inside Hungry Mother State Park. These trails are open year round and cover the woods surrounding the park and around the lake.

Here are a few of the popular trails:

  • Molly’s Knob Trail – This 3.4 mile trail is moderately hard as it climbs up the mountain past wildflowers and streams for a spectacular view of the valley below.
  • Clyburn Ridge Trail – A 6.3 mile moderate trail with overlooks and beautiful views of the lake.
  • Raiders Run & Old Shawnee Trail – A 1.8 mile path through the woods, across rocky streams along the old horse trail. This easy trail is very beautiful during the fall when the leaves have changed color.
  • The Kids in Parks Track Trail – A .6 mile easy paved trail with information on the many plants, wildflowers and animals inside the park. Check out the ‘Become a Junior Naturalist booklet’. It has 6 self-guided activities that kids can do to earn a Junior Naturalist patch.

While you’re exploring the trails, also check out geocaching.com to discover these hidden treasure sites within the park and in other state parks nearby.

Wildlife Viewing

The thick woods, rocky streams, mountains and lake are all places where you can observe different types of wildlife. Near the wetlands you’re likely to see frogs, painted turtles, mallards, Canadian Geese and wood ducks.

While hiking you may cross paths with deer, squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons. And if you’re quiet you may also see a cardinal, a goldfinch, sparrow, robin or blackbird.


Hungry Mother State Park has 3 campgrounds, yurts, cabins and a historic lodge for overnight guests. Restrooms, hot showers, laundry facilities and a camp store are available seasonally.

Camp Burson has 50 year round campsites with electricity (20-, 30-, 50-amp) and water connections. Sewer connections are also available at 30 of these sites.

The other 2 campgrounds have 11 tent-only sites and 19 campsites with electric (20-, 30-amp) and water connections.

Each of the 3 Yurts, only available to rent seasonally, has a bunk bed that sleeps 3 plus a dining table, chairs, sofa, large wooden deck, 2 picnic tables, a grill and a fire ring. No smoking or cooking is allowed inside and they also do not have electricity, water, heat, air conditioning or linens.

The park has 25 cabins, 6 of which are located near the Hemlock Haven Conference Center. All cabins have 2-4 bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and dining and living room areas. Some cabins have fully equipped kitchens. Cabins do not have a dishwasher, washer/dryer, telephone, tv or linens.

When staying in a cabin remember to bring food, dishwashing liquid and towels, coffee and filters, salt and pepper, bath towels and toiletries and activities such as board games, cards, magazines and books. As well as your own sheets, blankets and pillowcases.

The historic family lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. It has 6 bedrooms and sleeps up to 15. The lodge also has 3 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and living room with tv and dvd player. A large deck, picnic shelter and grill are located outside.


Pets are allowed inside the park but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet or in an enclosed area. Please clean up after your pet and do not leave them unattended at any time.

Attractions Near Hungry Mother State Park

For more outside adventures and nearby trails to explore check out:

  • Mount Rogers National Recreation Area – 3714 VA-16, Marion
  • Grayson Highlands State Park – 829 Grayson Highland Ln, Mouth of Wilson

Park Location

Hungry Mother State Park
2854 Park Blvd
Marion, VA 24354
Phone: 276.781.7400




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Hungry Mother State Park: