Hiking Shenandoah National Park
by Bert & Jane Gildart (Falcon Guides)
© 2016 Bert & Jane Gildart/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This trail has it all - views, waterfall, histroy and amazing spring wildflowers. Hazel top is covered with Trillium.
This hike has some interesting history along its route, with a visit to President Hoover's mountain retreat. Overall, however, this was not the most popular of the 3 hikes that we took while in Shenandoah National Park. The hike down to Rapidian Camp is fairly easy. The 2nd third of the hike is fairly strenuous, and although this hike crests Hazeltop peak, things really don't open up enough to let you enjoy the view that you have earned. The final segment on the Appalachian Trail (we did the hike in the direction suggested in the guide) is fairly easy. There is a nice waterfall along the way to Rapidian Camp (at least I think it was on the way ;-) ). Rapidian camp has a number of buildings and signage to give you some insight into the former presidential retreat. It looks as if you can go inside some of the buildings, but this must be by appointment because they were locked when we were there. The trail can be a little difficult to find when leaving Rapidian Camp following the description given. As you are leaving the camp, there is a thin trail to the left of a river and a fire road to the right of the river - take the fire road rather than the thin trail and you will then see the landmarks and trail markings described. The hike probably took us 4 - 4 1/2 hours overall. Our dog did the hike with us, but seemed to find it tiring, and she is a shepherd with hiking experience and in decent physical shape. I would probably not take this hike again, although if you have an interest in the presidential retreat, it is probably worth doing.
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