While the D.C. area experienced one of the mildest winters on record, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park weathered severe winter snow and ice storms that left much of the park’s facilities and trails in a disarray. An ice storm blanketed trees and telephone polls with several inches of solidly frozen ice, causing severe damage. Park maintenance crews have been working quickly to undo damage, and thanks to their efforts, Shenandoah Park Superintendent Douglas K. Morris announced Friday that the north and central districts of the Park have re-opened. The remainder of the Park, from Swift Run Gap to Rockfish Gap, should re-open by April 25.
“I am proud of the progress Shenandoah National Park crews and volunteers have made,” said Morris. “Despite often unfavorable weather conditions and frequent equipment breakdowns, they have maintained a rigid schedule and are meeting our goal of getting sections of the Skyline Drive open as quickly as possible, trails cleared, and developed areas cleaned up in time for each facility’s scheduled seasonal opening date.”
It is estimated that this winter’s storms caused over $700,000 worth of damage in the park. Park officials report that tree limbs and power and telephone poles were snapped or uprooted from the tremendous weight of ice. Thousands of tree branches were left dangling over Skyline Drive and facilities such as campgrounds.
Park cleanup crews are being assisted by volunteers from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Volunteers in Parks, Northern Virginia Hiking Club, Nordic Ski Patrol, and the Graves Mountain Lodge. These volunteers are working to clear over 500 miles of hiking trails located throughout the park. It may be some time before all trails are cleared. In the meantime, Shenandoah officials warn hikers to be prepared for rough hiking conditions and potentially hazardous dangling limbs.
For a recording with the latest information, contact the Park at (540) 999-3500.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.
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