Hungry Mother State Park
Marion, VA

Park size: It's 2,435 acres. The lake is about 108 acres.

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 15, 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.

The park includes swimming, camping, cabin rentals, boat rentals, hiking and the park system’s first conference center, Hemlock Haven.

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

This park has a Discovery Center with gift shop. Also an Amphitheater and a full-service, park-operated The Restaurant.

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. The park offers more programs on weekends in May, September and October. Guests may call the park at (276) 781-7400 for specific programs and dates.

Hungry Mother State Park
2854 Park Blvd.
Marion, Va. 24354-9323
Phone: (276) 781-7400

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.

Learn more about park offerings by calling 1-800-933-PARK or email

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