Hungry Mother State Park

Hungry Mother State Park

 Southwest Virginia is dotted with hidden gems but perhaps its worst kept secret is Hungry Mother State Park just outside of Marion. A favorite by many locals and travelers alike, the park boasts some of the best recreational activities in the area and its charm is challenged only by its breathtaking beauty. 

 Opened in 1936, the park along with its gorgeous namesake lake has held a special place in the heart of the region. It attracts a large variety of people with its opportunities to hike, fish, boat, kayak, swim on a sandy beach, take in a sunset, or simply enjoy a picnic by the peace of the water. One doesn’t have to look hard to see why Hungry Mother is a local hotspot but the harder you look, the more reasons you’ll find to love it. 


 To match all the sights and experiences the park has to offer, it also boasts a captivating history that is a unique insight into the culture of the region. The park was one of six to open in 1936 as a special project by the CCC. Scattered inside the park are several informational signs illustrating how such a beautiful manmade lake was constructed. If you are a history buff or a sucker for engineering, you’ll find a collection of interesting facts along some of the parks many hiking trails. Tucked away off the Lake Trail Loop is even the storage bunker used for dynamite.

 Another fascinating aspect of the park is the name “Hungry Mother” itself. There are as many variations of how that name came to be as there are people to ask, but the basic legend goes as follows: A mother by the name of Molly and her child were wandering through the woods, eating berries and what other little food the hills had to offer. Before long, Molly collapsed from exhaustion and her child wandered further down the creek away from her. When she was found, the only words she muttered were “hungry mother” and thus the name was born.  

 You can also find the pinnacle trail at the park, “Molly’s Knob” named after the mother in the legend. 


 Another famous aspect of Hungry Mother is simply the amount of wildlife you can see at any given time. Everything from bear to deer to chipmunks can be found within the confines of the park. It is best to use caution when near wild animals, but with enough time and patience you are sure to see something that will leave you with a smile for the rest of the day .


 This time of year extending into the fall is an amazing time to visit Hungry Mother. The park isn’t as busy, the days are cooler, you can feel the onset of autumn in the air and if at all possible, the sunsets are even better. Whether you’re hitting the lake to wrangle in some trophy fish or looking to take in new sights overlooking gorgeous vistas, you need not look further than Hungry Mother State Park.  

 If you’re looking for a fun outing with the kids or a romantic evening with your better half, here are some fun ideas to fill a day:


  • Hike or bike one of the many different trails Hungry Mother has to offer. 
  • Rent a boat and spend some time appreciating the lake from the water itself. 
  • Pack a lunch and bring a picnic. The park offers many picnic shelters. 
  • Wrangle in enough fish for a fish fry in any of the many angling opportunities. 
  • Take a drive through the park and simply enjoy the scenery. 
  • Drive the famed “Back of the Dragon” that runs through the park. 
  • Have a meal at the famous Hungry Mother restaurant located within the park 
  • Take advantage of the many learning opportunities the park has to offer 
  • Spend a night camping under the stars 


Located just outside of Marion on I-81, the park is easy to get to but don’t let that fool you! A day spent at Hungry Mother is a day spent with the absolute best mother nature has to offer.