Shenandoah National Park

Location: northwest Virginia
Dates: July 18 and August 7-8, 2009

North from Stony Man

Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia. The park is long, narrow, and follows the ridge. Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail run at or near the top of the ridge for the length of the park. I visited the park twice in 2009 once on a short day trip on July 18, and the second time I stayed at the Loft Mountain Campground for a night.

Stony Man from an overlook to the north

Stony Man
Stony Man (elevation 4,011 ft) is the second highest mountain in the park and rises just to the south of Little Stony Man. It is one of the nicest mountains in the park, and I think the views from it are the best. The trail to the summit is about 0.9 mi (300 ft of gain) one way, and from the north it is about 1.1 mi (800 ft of gain) one way. The summit is just as you would expect: rock outcroppings with views to the south, west, and north.

The view from Little Stony Man

Little Stony Man
Little Stony Man is an outcropping just to the north of of Stony Man. It is not a separate summit, rather it is just on the sides of Stony Man at an elevation of about 3,550 feet. The shortest hike is from the trailhead just to the north along Skyline Drive, and it is only 0.5 mi one way with about 300 feet of elevation gain. The views from here to the west and north are good, but not as good as on Stony Man.

Hawksbill in the background

Hawksbill (elevation 4,050 feet) is the highest point in Shenandoah National Park. The views from Hawksbill are generally to the northwest, and I do not think they are as good as from Stony Man, but they are good nevertheless. There are three potential routes to the summit: hikes from the southwest, south, and east. I hiked from the south on a trail that is about one mile long and gains 400 feet of elevation.

View from an overlook

Bearfence Mountain
The hike to Bearfence Mountain is a one mile loop with sections that are class 2 scrambles, which makes it a more fun and interesting hike than most in the park. Bearfence is located south of Big Meadows in the center of the park, and from the rocks there are 360-degree views.

Dark Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls
In the Big Meadows area, Dark Hollow Falls is a 0.7 mi hike one way with about 600 feet of elevation change (down first). Dark Hollow Falls has a 70 foot drop and it is often combined with Rose River Falls (67 ft) as a loop hike.

View from an overlook

Lewis Falls
Also in the Big Meadows area, Lewis Falls is a two mile round trip hike with over 600 feet of elevation change (down first). The falls is 81 feet high, but you can only view the falls from their side near the top of the falls.

Big Meadows

Big Meadows
Big Meadows is a popular recreation area in the park centered around large grasslands on the top of the Blue Ridge. There is a campground, visitor center, lodge, and other facilities. There are several trails in the area, including to the two waterfalls above and throughout the meadows.

View from an overlook

Skyline Drive
There are many overlooks along the 105-mile length of Skyline Drive. The views from most of the overlooks are great, and it is difficult to choose one as the best. All of the parks facilities, including lodges, visitor centers, and campgrounds are along the drive. This is where most people also see black bears. I think I saw five bears one day, and all were along the road. The southern end of Skyline Drives continues south as the Blue Ridge Parkway for 469 miles.

Flowers along the Appalachian Trail

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