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Scott - DCSki Editor
April 15, 2000
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,139 posts
This forum is for discussions related to hiking and camping.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
April 17, 2000
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,723 posts
I've done a moderate amount of recreational hiking and camping in Shenandoah Nat'l Park since my dad first took me up there in the early 1960s. My favorite hike is Old Rag Mtn. This is kind of like saying my favorite eastern ski area is Killington (it is), because lots of other folks like Old Rag too and it can be unpleasantly crowded on weekends. Old Rag is located off Rt 231 a few miles south of Sperryville and is a mountain on the east side of the Park, 60-90 minutes from the DC area. The hike up from the parking lot entails a fairly strenuous 2000' vertical (approx) climb of about 2-3 miles with a good bit of scrambling over and thru rocks near the top. Infants and kids under 5 are not recommended unless accompanied by two fit adults that can carry them most of the way and pass them thru a few tight spots in the rocks. You can turn around at the top and go back down the way you came or there is a circuit hike down the backside and along a creek that is a total of about 7 miles. The views atop Old Rag (about 3300' elev) are terrific on a clear day, with several 360 degree viewing spots. Off to the east is the Virginia piedmont plateau and directly west are close up views of some of the few 4000 foot peaks in Shen. Nat'l Park. Hike Old Rag on a weekday if you can, or other off time. Avoid 12 noon on beautiful early summer weekends or weekends during fall foliage season or you'll have to take your chances with crowds. My next favorite hike in the Park is White Oak Canyon, also very popular, and not too many miles from Old Rag. It is fun to do during August because of the outstanding swimming hole about 2 thirds of the way down the canyon with a large waterfall (the water is still cold in August). The hike back up to skyline drive from the swimming hole is very strenuous. If swimming is your main thing, you can reach the swimming hole more easily by approaching from the east at the bottom of the canyon. Of course, there are any number of less spectacular hikes that afford great beauty and less crowds in Shenandoah Nat'l Park. What are your favorites?

Has anybody hiked Mt Rogers down south of Roanoke, Virginia's highest peak? What were your impressions?

Scott - DCSki Editor
April 17, 2000
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,139 posts
I've been hiking at Shenandoah a dozen or two times over the past few years. In college, I used to arrange group trips. We'd have anywhere from 4-12 people, and it was a blast.

One of my favorite hikes within the park is also Whiteoak Canyon - I've probably been on that 9 or 10 times now, at all times of the year. Twice, I've gone backcountry camping off of that trail. Just across the street is the Stony Man Mountain hike, which isn't the most strenuous hike but leads to a great view. And when you get done, you can stop at Skyland for a warm meal.

Near the Big Meadows campground, the Dark Hollow Falls trail is a good hike. Farther south, Bearfence Mountain is a nice hike/scramble up to the top for a great view. The last time I hiked this, we had to "abort" shortly after arriving at the top as summer thunderstorms started to roll in. You usually don't want to be the highest point around when the lightning starts.

In terms of campgrounds at Shenandoah, is Mathews Arm still closed? I can't remember. Big Meadows is the only campground that accepts reservations, so we usually ended up camping there to guarantee a spot. Lewis Mountain is probably my favorite campground - much smaller and quieter, more in the woods.

It's been a year or two since I've been to Shenandoah but I hope to make a trip or two this summer. Unfortunately, my friends from college are now spread across the country, so getting together for a camping trip is a lot more challenging.

In September, I'm hoping to take a couple weeks off from work and drive out west. This is still tentative, but I'm planning on filing near-daily "reports from the road" documenting my adventures in places like Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.

There's some great hiking and mountain biking out there. Growing up in Colorado, I made quite a few trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, which wasn't too far from my hometown.

Here's a question for all of you: out of all of the National Parks you've visited, can you name a favorite? Which one?

Which ones have you visited? I think I've been to most in the continental U.S. except Big Bend in Texas. Although I was quite young on some of them (such as Yosemite.)

JimK - DCSki Columnist
June 9, 2000
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,723 posts
Afraid I don't have too many recent visits to memorable Nat'l Parks. I visited many of the great ones, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone as a boy. As an adult I've been to Shenandoah, Great Smokies and Sequoia/Kings Canyon in Ca. In '98 rented restored '81 Fiat Spider and drove from northern Va to Asheville, NC over long segments of the Blue Ridge Parkway. That was a great motoring trip. You can drive right to the summit of Mt. Mitchell, NC, 6000+', highest point east of the Mississippi River. There is an excellent little Mountain Arts&Crafts museum and store right along B/R Parkway near Asheville. Enjoyed a visit to Sequoia Nat'l Park in 1987 with wife and daughter. Having lived most of my life in Va, I found those giant redwoods to be pretty mind boggling. There was also an interesting hike I took up nearby "Moro Rock" which was reminiscent of Old Rag.
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