Hiking Shenandoah National Park
by Bert & Jane Gildart (Falcon Guides)
© 2016 Bert & Jane Gildart/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Oh my! This is a character building trail. By character I mean lactic acid from all the frikkin hills!
I had a good time on this trail and we had a blast eating all of the blueberries along the trail. The blackberries weren't ready yet, but they should be ripe in august
If you like a tough hike over 2 mountains and have solitude, this is the one you want to take. We saw 3 young kids (that turned around) at the very beginning. If you consider this was the July 4th weekend and no one was on the trail........ perfect. Counter-clockwise would be the best. Lunch at the midway point at the river is well worth the walk. An EASY walk down but the way up was no fire road or easy trail. You'll burn some calories over this 10 + mile 'walk'. One of the best in SNP.
Our chosen trail of conquest was a 9.9 circuit using the Brown Mountain, Rocky Mountain, Big Run Portal and Rocky Mountain Run trails. Impressive views of Brown Mountain and Rockytop are to be had from the Skyline Drive overlook. We stopped for a power snack break and to photograph one another on the Brown Mountain rock outcropping along with the view of the surrounding mountains. Looking back towards the Drive, our cars seemed almost insignificant parked at the overlook. Next stop was another outcropping of rock, less significant than the former, but no less exciting. We climbed up on a pinnacle to view the 160 degree view. Snow was swirling about us in waves, ebbing and flowing, thick and thin
The trail brought us to a plateau of sorts featuring both living and dead pines. The dead wood was more fascinating to us. Sometimes death has a way of putting a grip of respect on our shoulders. Several switchbacks later, we ended up at Big Run. An iron-plated bridge gave us a dry place to eat lunch, under it that is. After lunch, the snow drifting down on the talus slopes above us on Rockytop turned to freezing rain for a few minutes, then to rain.
Big Run Portal has it’s own surprises such as pools here and there for dipping…if it were a hot day and more water available…along with large rocky banks on the inward curves of the stream. Big Run follows an old forest road, the northern end of which is on private property. The road crosses the run 4 times.
Eventually we reached our uphill climb on Rocky Mountain Run trail Back on Skyline Drive we gladly removed our wet outer layer and cranked our car’s heaters to try and dry our soggy selves. We also had to remove a thin icy layer of slush from our windshields.
Very enjoyable hike. Terrific views and very few people around.
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