I agree that the RT is a better way to reach the AT (and Mt. Rogers). Although several trails lead to Mt. Rogers, the RT is easily accessed at Massie Gap in the Grayson Highlands State Park & provides a more level & open path to the AT. The wild ponies abound – some will approach you if you kneel down and wait patiently. After hiking up to the first crest of the RT, you come to a crossroads – it is at this point that the hiker can choose to hike the AT southbound to Mt. Rogers or use the RT. The RT continues on & connects with other trails as well. It should be mentioned that you leave Grayson Highlands State Park and enter into wilderness area – trails are not as well marked in this section (except the AT – white blazes as always).
I forgot to mention the original reason for posting this reply – Whitetop Mountain. It is Virginia’s second highest peak and located only about a mile from Mt. Rogers. Whitetop’s crest is a bald and provides stunning views on clear days – 50 miles or more into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is a side trip that might be worth the effort (especially if the forest covered Mt. Rogers view was disappointing).