During our Washington DC trip, we spent three days in the middle of the week exploring the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia.
10/25 – First Looks
We drove west, toward the Shenandoah Mountains, admiring the fall colors along the way.
We entered the park at Thornton Gap. We stopped at a few overlooks on Skyline Drive before checking into our room at the Skyland Resort.
10/26 – Hawksbill Summit, Deer Hollow Falls, a gorgeous sunset
The misty morning gave way to a few sun breaks.
We decided to hike the Hawksbill-Salamander-Appalachian Trail Loop and hope for the best.
Hawksbill Summit was fogged in, but while we ate our lunch, the clouds cleared, and we had a lovely westward view to the Shenandoah River Valley.
We descended via the Salamander Trail, to an intersection with the Appalachian Trail, which we walked along for about a mile.
The Hawksbill hike was about 2.7 miles, 600 feet. After our hike, we stopped at the Big Hollow Visitor Center and learned a bit about the history of the park. Then we hiked about 3 miles to Dark Hollow Falls from the Rose River Trailhead, once again, admiring the foliage colors, and then the tiers of the waterfall.
Later in the afternoon, we stopped at Tanners Ridge Overlook, just south of Big Meadow.
We noticed the clouds and sunbeams were looking promising for a great sunset. We hurried to The Point Overlook, known for excellent vistas. For the next hour, the rolling waves of mountain silhouettes, clouds and sunbeams put on a stunning display, nearly impossible to capture (but we tried!)
10/27- Old Rag hike from Berry Hollow
Old Rag (3274′) is a craggy mountain to the east of the main ridge of Shenandoah National Park, and a popular hiking destination. This was our longest hike for the week (6 miles, 1750 feet). The trailhead was about an hour’s drive from our lodging. We had purchased limited access permits online ahead of time, and passed three ranger check points along the trail. Many hikers choose the challenging Ridge scramble trail up the eastern rocky slopes. We opted for the slightly shorter, nonscrambly route from the Berry Hollow Trailhead.
We hiked upward through beautiful fall foliage.
The summit is covered with rocky boulders and slabs that more intrepid hikers scrambled up. We settled for circling the perimeter, and viewing the landscape to the west, north and east.
We returned the way we came, the steep downward trail challenging to my recently injured knee, but we made it, thank you hiking poles!
We drove back up to Skyline Road and stopped at the Old Rag Overlook, to look back at where we had been:
This was a successful trip. We wanted to see the fall foliage. The peak foliage was a little past at the top of the mountains, especially in Big Meadow, but was still sweeping in waves down the slopes, and is much more colorful than what we see in our home evergreen forests in Oregon.
The next morning we stopped for a last look from the Buck Hollow Overlook before driving back to Washington DC…