Saturday, January 17, 2015

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Skyline Drive - NPS Link. Wonderful drive! During nicer weather people will go for a nice motorcycle ride and many will bike it! There are scenic overlooks along the way. A few sections have bathrooms but be sure you plan ahead!

Baby Copperheads! Watch out!

Old RagNPS Link
This is a great 10 mile car-door-to-car-door hike. Get there early to avoid crowds. We have done this hike several times. As we are faster hikers this takes us about 5 hours with a long break at the top. Bring LOTS of water. Also helpful to pack bug spray, sun screen, gloves for the rock scramble part and lunch/snacks. I don't wear my rings because I get nervous about losing a finger to a rock.

Park at the Ridge Trail Trail head. This is where you leave your park fee. Then it is about a mile to the actual trail. The first bit of the hike is steep switch backs under the treeline. Then it changes to rock scrambles and amazing views. To get back down there is the Weakly Hollow Fire Road trail and or you go back the way you came. Keep in mind that on busy days there can be quite a wait in some sections. Be patient and courteous! Oh, and pack out your trash! I always bring a grocery bag to collect folks trash along the way, but please don't litter!

If you are going to attempt this hike please do some research before on what to pack, what to wear, and how long you expect it to take. You don't want to get stuck on the mountain without a flashlight!

View from the Summit of Old Rag 9/2014
White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run Loop -
8-10 mile loop. There are some very pretty places to stop along streams and some great waterfalls. This is one of the more popular hikes so be prepared for crowds if you go during the summer and on weekends.

We parked at the trail head (Hawksbill Gap Parking) and it went down into the valley using the Cedar Run trail. Once you get almost to the edge of the park you hike back into the park using Cedar Run Link Trail to the White Oak Canyon trail. This will take you past the upper and lower falls. Be prepared to do LOTS of stairs. The trail is well maintained but it is rocky and a good portion of the trail is stone steps. From there you take the White Oak Fire Road that will take you back to the trail head.

This a great hike and one that I'd like to do again soon!
Giant Spider
Upper Falls

Fluffy Caterpillar
**Cannot bring in outside wood due to the Emerald Ash Borer threat**

Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22)- This is one of our favorite campgrounds for car camping. The three times we have visited (July, August, and October) it has been relatively quiet and we have been able to pick a nice site without reservations. It has an of an outdoor/woodsy feel to it and is much smaller than Big Meadows. There are no showers. There are few hikes (Traces Trail) that are in the campground and a section of the Appalachian trail cuts next to this park as well.

Big Meadows Campground (mile 51) - We stayed at this campground once and have decided that this would be a great place for "intro" campers or for those with families. The bathrooms are close to the sites and well lit. The sites are also close together which would be fun for families or groups that want to hang out. The roads are not very busy and the kids can ride bikes around the streets.

Some of our other VA adventures here!

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