Hungry Mother State Park

Quick Facts

Hungry Mother State Park


(276) 781-7400

Map Directions

Things To Do


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.

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.

Map of Hungry Mother (VA)

Latitude, Longitude: 36.867811, -81.525765



  • Boating

    Boat launching is available for non-gasoline powered boats. A boat launching ramp and handicapped accessible fishing pier have been developed. In addition, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats are available for rent during the summer. Boat rentals for canoes, kayaks, paddleboats and electric powered Jonboats are available Memorial Day through Labor Day and on weekends through October, weather permitting.

  • Bicycling

    More than 12 miles of trails are open year-round

  • Camping

    Site types in Hungry Mother proper: Type A: 11 sites - Various equipment, electric and water hookups; tents, popups and RVs up to 35 feet; back-in sites; accept outlets for 20 and 30 amp current (50-amp current available at Camp Burson only). Type B: 20 sites - Various equipment, electric and water hookups; tents, popups and RVs up to 35 feet; back-in sites; accept outlets for 20 and 30 amp current (50-amp current available at Camp Burson only). Type C: 11 TENT sites - Tents only. Bathhouse. Tent must fit on 20 by 20-foot pad. No hookups.

    Firewood is available for a fee. People visiting overnight guests must leave the park by 10 p.m. and pay parking fees. One vehicle per campsite in addition to camping unit allowed. Others must park in parking area and pay parking fee. Each campsite has a round fire ring on the ground which can be used for cooking and campfires.

  • Fishing

    The 108-acre Hungry Mother Lake within the park supports a host of sport fish including largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, crappie, channel catfish, carp, sunfish, rock bass, muskellunge and walleye. The channel catfish, walleyes and musky are stocked every year. A valid Virginia fishing license is required.

  • Hiking

    More than 12 miles of trails are open year round.

  • Picnicking

    This park offers three shelters for rent through the Reservations Center at 1-800-933-PARK. 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.

  • Water Sports

    Open during the summer, the swimming beach is complete with a bathhouse and concession area. 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.


Spring and fall are generally comfortable with precipitation possible. Summers can be hot and humid with average temperatures in the high 80s and with sudden thunderstorms possible. July and August are the hottest months. Winters can be cold with average temperatures in the winter of 41 degrees with variable precipitation.



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.

Phone Numbers


(276) 781-7400