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Hungry Mother State Park

GENERAL INFO: Hungry Mother State Park in southwestern Virginia is noted for its woodlands and lake. Easily accessible from Interstate 81, this park has folklore and history, swimming, camping, cabin rentals, boat rentals, hiking and the park system�s first conference center, Hemlock Haven.

Much of the land for Hungry Mother State Park was donated by local landowners to develop a new state park in Smyth County on Hungry Mother Creek. The park is one of the six original CCC parks that opened in June 1936.

The Legend of Hungry Mother

Legend has it that when the Native Americans destroyed several settlements on the New River south of the park, Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders� base north of the park. They eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness eating berries. Molly finally collapsed, and her child wandered down a creek until the child found help. The only words the child could utter were "Hungry Mother." The search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly collapsed to find the child's mother dead. Today that mountain is Molly�s Knob, and the stream is Hungry Mother Creek.

Hemlock Haven Conference Center: (276) 781-7425 - Reserved by Hemlock Haven.

This in-holding of Hungry Mother State Park, long serving as an Episcopal Church camp, was purchased by the state in 1986. After considerable refurbishing, the facility opened in 1989.

Facilities include meeting rooms, cabins, a sports complex and picnic area. Packages and fees vary. Call the conference center at (276) 781-7425 for more information and reservations. Cabins are reserved through the State Parks Reservation Center, 1-800-933-PARK. Catering is available through the Hungry Mother Restaurant.

LOCATION: Hungry Mother State Park is in Smyth County. To get there, take Exit 47 from Interstate 81. Travel approximately one mile on Route 11 toward Marion. Turn right on Route 16 north and travel four miles to the park Register at the Discovery Center.

Directions to Hemlock Haven (within the park): Use the above, general directions to find Hungry Mother State Park. Once within Hungry Mother State Park, follow signs for Hemlock Haven Conference Center. Stay on the main road and follow the loop. The first six cabins are named: Chestnut, Hickory, White Oak, Scarlet Oak, Red Oak and Sycamore. Stay on this road to The Pines, which are near the fork in the road. The Pines are numbered 21-25. Register at the Discovery Center.

Directions to Camp Burson (formerly known as Hungry Mother Family Campground): Before reaching the main entrance to Hungry Mother State Park, you'll see Camp Burson on the right off Park Boulevard. Campers who've rented sites with electric/water/sewage hook-ups register at Camp Burson. Do not register at the Discovery Center, which is inside the park proper.

Drive Time : Northern Va., six hours; Richmond, five hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, six hours; Roanoke, two hours.

PICNIC SHELTERS: This park offers three shelters for rent through the Reservations Center at 1-800-933-PARK. Click here for park fees. They can be rented from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (all day). Shelter 3 is large and can be rented in two separate sections. The park's amphitheater can also be rented (see below under "special offerings"). Parking and swimming fees are not included in shelter or amphitheater rental. All shelters are available April 1-October 31; at other times they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Shelter amenities include charcoal grill, picnic tables, electical outlets, fireplace, lights and access to restrooms.

Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.

Shelter 1 - This handicapped accessible shelter is a favorite because it's closest to the beach, playground, boat rentals, restaurant and handicapped accessible restrooms. It overlooks the lake and accommodates 75. Amenities include electrical outlets, a fireplace at each end, a large Texas size grill and 12 picnic tables. Around the shelter are tables not for rent; they're taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Shelter 2 - This secluded shelter accommodates 75. There are tables located around the shelter that are not reserved and are take on a first-come, first-served basis. This shelter, near parking lot 5, is tucked in the woods just past the restaurant and near the boat rental area and the amphitheater. It is often used along with weddings held at the amphitheater. It features electrical outlets, fireplaces at each end, a large Texas-sized grill and 12 picnic tables.

Shelter 3 - Shelter 3, the largest, accommodates 40 on each of its two sides (a & b - but it can be rented in whole). There are tables located around the shelter that are not rented and are take on a first-come, first-served basis. There are electrical outlets on each side of the shelter; brick fireplaces separate two halves of shelter. This shelter is not handicapped accessible. It has a large Texas-sized grill and six picnic tables at each end of the shelter. It is near parking lot 6 and the restrooms. The restrooms are not handicapped accessible.

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