HUNGRY MOTHER STATE PARK
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.
John D. and Mildred Lincoln donated 1,881 acres to the state for the establishment of a state park in Smyth County on Hungry Mother Creek in 1933. Later that year the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began construction of Hungry Mother and five other state parks. Roads, trails, picnic areas, cabins, a restaurant, bathhouse, dam and sanitation system were all built by the 600 CCC men at the park between 1933 and 1941. On June 13, 1936, the six-park Virginia State Park System was officially dedicated with public opening ceremonies at Hungry Mother State Park in Smyth County. More than 5,000 turned out to see the park as Governor George Peery and State Park Director Robert Burson officiated.
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.
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Open during the summer, the swimming beach is complete with a bathhouse and concession area. From Memorial Day through Labor Day only, the beach and snack bar are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. In the summer, swimming is free for overnight guests in campsites, cabins and the lodge, however it cannot be guaranteed should circumstances beyond the park's control require that swimming be closed. We do not give refunds for swimming to overnight guests under any circumstances.
Boat launching is available for non-gasoline powered boats. A boat launching ramp and handicapped accessible fishing pier have been developed. In addition, canoes and paddleboats are available for rent during the summer. Boat rentals for canoes, paddleboats and electric powered Jonboats operate Memorial Day through Labor Day 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. and weekends through October (weather permitting).
Hungry Mother is well-known for fishing. A valid Virginia fishing license is required.
Hungry Mother State Park is located near Marion
This park offers three shelters for rent through the Reservations Center at 1-800-933-PARK (in Richmond, 225-3867). 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.
Regular weekly interpretive programs at Hungry Mother are available mid-June through Labor Day and include canoe tours, nature hikes, night hikes, Critter Crawl (aquatic sampling), guest evening programs, campfires, storytelling, music, and wee and junior naturalist programs. Fishing tournaments just for kids are offered monthly. Additional programs are offered on weekends in May, September and October. Guests may call the park at (276) 781-7400 for specific programs and dates.
Amphitheater - The amphitheater, popular for weddings, can be rented from noon to 10 p.m. (full day), from noon to 6 p.m. (day) or from 6 p.m to 10 p.m. (evening). Those renting for the full day or day period can access the amphitheater before the start time if desired. Call 1-800-933-PARK (in Richmond, 225-3867) to rent. The natural surroundings of the park's amphitheater provide a beautiful, outdoor setting for many activities, including weddings. As it's on an island, it's accessed by footbridge from the main park area. The structure has one electrical outlet and is near parking lot five. Up to 60 can be accommodated on the uncovered wooden benches. Standing room can accommodate another 40. You're welcome to bring more chairs if you like, but be sure to remove them when leaving. No park equipment, such as a microphone, is provided.
* Full Day - $41.80 (tax included) * Half-day - $25.08 (tax included)
Cancellation Policy: No refund within a week before the date reserved. Before then, there's a $5 cancellation fee
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.