Old Flat State Forest 

Overview

Old Flat State Forest occupies 320 acres in Grayson County. It is used for research, demonstration of forestry practices, and education.

With the exception of the southern-most corners, the entire Old Flat State Forest lies above 4000 feet in elevation, and rises to just above 5000 feet at its highest point, easily making it Virginia’s highest state forest. Because of the elevation, forest types and growing conditions are somewhat unique. At the highest points on the forest, pure boreal-like stands of red spruce dominate.

Several minor streams that empty into Cabin Creek cross the forest. Mt. Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers Association maintains a Fraser fir seed orchard there. Grayson Highlands State Park and the Jefferson National Forest adjoin the property.

×To ensure your safety and enjoyment, please read Before You Visit when planning your trip to a state forest.

At a Glance

Access Status: Open to the Public; but no direct access
Hours: Open daily from dawn until dusk

Physical Address:
Latitude/Longitude:
36° 37’ 15”, 81° 31’ 52”
Hiley Branch Lane, Whitetop, VA 24292

Parking/Access: No public access by vehicle and no parking, because the access roads cross private property.
Only access is by hiking from the George Washington Jefferson National Forest or Grayson Highlands State Park.

Restroom Facilities: None

Visitors are asked to adopt a “leave-no-trace” ethic when visiting the forest, as there are no restrooms or trash cans on the forest itself. ​ ​

Other Facilities: None

Forest History

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) acquired Old Flat State Forest in 2011 through a land swap with the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Prior to that time, the property was part of Grayson Highlands State Park. (Land surrounding Holliday Lake was traded to DCR to become part of Holliday Lake State Park, in exchange for the Old Flat Property.)

The property derives its name from a relatively flat parcel, 60+ acres in size, that is referred to locally as “The Old Flat.” Part of VDOF’s reason for acquiring the forest was to establish a second-generation seed orchard for Fraser fir trees. Fraser firs, native to the highest elevations (around 5,000 feet) in the immediate area, have been in decline for the last several decades. The orchard, established in 2012 in partnership with the Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers Association, will also provide seeds to many area Christmas tree producers.

Forest Management

Forest types on Old Flat are consistent with those of more northern climates. The highest-elevation areas are dominated by red spruce. As elevation decreases, the pure spruce gives way to stands of mixed spruce, yellow birch, and sugar maple. Lower, the forest type is northern hardwoods, dominated by northern red oak, sugar maple, red maple, birch, and yellow buckeye. Management focuses on demonstration of scientific forest management, applied forest research, development of diverse wildlife habitat, watershed protection, forest management to develop diverse timber stands that support biological diversity, and opportunities for passive outdoor recreation.

Recreational Opportunities

Recreational uses of the Old Flat State Forest are limited to primarily passive recreation, such as hiking and wildlife watching, due to accessibility issues.

The only access is by hiking from the George Washington Jefferson National Forest or Grayson Highlands State Park.

Visitors are asked to adopt a “leave-no-trace” ethic when visiting the forest, as there are no restrooms or trash cans on the forest itself.

ATV/ORV use, camping, and swimming are prohibited on all State Forests.

A State Forest Use Permit* is required for individuals aged 16 and older to hunt, fish, trap, horseback ride, or mountain bike on state forest lands. The permit can be purchased online at or where hunting licenses are sold.

Trails and Roads

  • 0.5 miles of gated forest roads – no vehicles

Hiking

Hiking is permitted on all forest roads, but there is no direct access or parking is available.

The only access is by hiking from the George Washington Jefferson National Forest or Grayson Highlands State Park.

A GPS unit or compass is recommended for navigation.

Mountain Biking

None

Horseback Riding

None

Fishing and Boating

None

Hunting and Trapping

None

Other Recreational Opportunities

Other passive recreational opportunities, such as wildlife watching and nature photography, are available.

The only access is by hiking from the George Washington Jefferson National Forest or Grayson Highlands State Park.

Educational Opportunities
  • Self-learning opportunities are available.
  • Formal education programs are available upon request.
Contact Us

For more information or questions, e-mail us or use our contact form.

State Forest Main Office
Located at Cumberland State Forest
751 Oak Hill Road, Cumberland, VA 23040-2511
E-mail | (804) 492-4121

Local Contact
Zach Olinger, Forest Management and Education Specialist
106 Forestry Lane, Galax, VA 24333
E-mail | (276) 236-2322

Maps and Additional Resources
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