Friday, June 10, 2005

Out in the Mountains !!!


ImageWeekend in the Mountains ! Image
'The Blue Ridge is second to the west in rugged grandeur, but first in beauty of woods, in thrilling fairyland glens, and in warmth of Mother Nature's welcome" - Commissioner William Gregg, 1924

Shenandoah National Park lies astride a beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which form the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains between Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Shenandoah River flows through the valley to the west, with Massanutten Mountain, 40 miles long, standing between the river's north and south forks. The rolling Piedmont country lies to the east of the park. Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds along the crest of the mountains through the length of the park, provides vistas of the spectacular landscape to east and west. The park holds more than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Trails may follow a ridge crest, or they may lead to high places with panoramic views or to waterfalls in deep canyons. Many animals, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys, flourish among the rich growth of an oak-hickory forest. In season, bushes and wildflowers bloom along the Drive and trails and fill the open spaces. Apple trees, stone foundations, and cemeteries are reminders of the families who once called this place home. Shenandoah National Park has many stories waiting to be told, and a world of beauty that can renew and bring peace to the spirit.

Courtesy - Shenandoah National Park (National Park Service)

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The entire high definition map of the Skyline Drive is available HERE.

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The National Park website on the Shenandoah National Park and especially the Skyline Drive is very good and very informative. Hiking maps can be downloaded from here.
The Skyline Drive can be approached from the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area through two exits on I-66 West, exit 6 and exit 13. Exit 6 takes you through the town of Front Royale. After taking the exits, follow the signs for the Skyline Drive or stay on US-340 South. Exit 13 is more direct and by-passes the town and directly goes to the Skyline Drive.
Plan to get early to the park in case you have a reservation at a campground. Some of the campgrounds have fuel for cars, so automobile fuel is not that big of an issue as is with some other parks.
All of the hikes in the Shenandoah Park offer something unique, either flowing vistas of the Shenandoah range or waterfalls. Pick up a hike (or more if you are feeling really adventurous) depending on what you want to do and how much time you have. Leave plenty of time to take snaps at the several overlook points established on the Skyline Drive. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) is also an excellent resource on the Skyline drive and they have several low priced publications which provide detailed maps and descriptions of items to do on the Skyline Drive.
Check out some pictures on the Skyline Drive and few other hikes. Use the drop down available to view the individual photo albums.

Skyline Drive, October 2004

Dickey Ridge - April 2005

WhiteOak Canyon Falls - Memorial Day, 2005 (Brrr, cold because of a torrential thunderstorm)
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