Hello Everyone! I’m back today to share a few photos from our day trip last week through the Shenandoah NP and Fort Valley. We went hiking and we were searching for some colorful leaves. The hike did not disappoint, but the leaves were a little harder to find. We did see some color at the higher altitudes in the park, but mostly with the yellow trees. The oaks (red) were just starting to change. There were also some trees that were already bare.
We started our trip from Front Royal and took US 340 south on the west side of the park. We entered the park at the Thornton Gap entrance near Luray and headed south on the Skyline Drive. As we got higher in elevation, we started seeing some pretty yellow color in the trees.
We were heading to Hawksbill Summit, the highest spot in the park, for our hike. As we rounded a corner, we could see a few clouds just grazing the top of the mountains and thought that’s probably where we were going to hike. We ended up driving in some light fog for a few miles, but it was clearing up by the time we reached the trailhead.
There were several ways to reach the summit. We chose the mostly straight up way (about 700 feet in elevation) because I don’t like going down steep hills. Next time, we will probably do an out and back on the back side, longer, but less steep to reach the top.
It was worth every step we took to get to the top! As you can see, it was a spectacular day. A cold front had gone through the day before and really cleared up the sky.
If we look a little cold, it’s because we were. When we left the car at 10:15, it was 45 degrees. I’m sure with the wind chill factor, it was in the 30’s at the top. The wind was really blowing, too. We are using this hike as part of the Hokie Hike that we signed up for through Virginia Tech Alumni Relations.
More views from the top!
This is a closer look at the color in the trees of the the smaller ridge to the west.
As we continued the hike back down and around to the west towards the car, we made sure to stop and enjoy our surroundings.
This guy almost walked up to me so I was able to get a pretty good picture. He didn’t seem to care that we were around.
As we neared the end of the hike, there was a rock slide. We are still on the trail here, but right around the corner, we had to do a horizontal rock scramble to get back onto the trail. I didn’t take pictures because I needed my hands to help get across. Makes me think a little harder about some of the hikes that need a rock scramble to get to the top of some of the trails.
It was a great hike and like I said, I’m know we’ll do it again. We came through a Mountain Laurel grove, so I’m sure that is beautiful when the trees are blooming in the spring. The total length of our hike was 3.7 miles. A good length that took about 2 hours with a 15 minute pause at the summit.
We continued out drive south to The Big Meadows Wayside where we had our picnic lunch. After that we exited the park at the Swift Run Gap entrance and made our way to Elkton before turning north towards home. Instead of coming home all the way on US340, we crossed the Massanutten Mountain and drove through home on the Fort Valley road. I took a few pictures as we drove through, but the trees were still very green through the valley.
We really enjoyed our day out and look forward to another soon. We are supposed to get very cold here this week, so we are going to go ahead and winterize our camper. I was hoping that we could get out for a few days close by, but we don’t want to risk the water lines freezing. A snowflake popped up on my weather app for Friday, but it’s been replaced by rain now. It will probably change a dozen times before the end of the week!
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and that you, too, can get out and do a little exploring! Thanks for stopping by as always!