Hiking in Shenandoah National Park
Having some business in Charlottesville this weekend, I decided to head up to the Skyline Drive, camp out Friday night, and do a little hiking Saturday morning. The forecast wasn’t too promising for Friday and Saturday and as predicted, the temperature was mild (in the mid 60’s), windy, and rainy all night Friday and most of Saturday. Even though the Fall foliage was still quite full and colorful, the weather apparently kept a lot of folks away as the campground at Loft Mountain was far from full. After setting up camp, I dropped by the Big Meadows Visitor Center, picked up a trail map, and headed back to the campground for a relaxing evening. There’s something very comforting about camping on a cool, rainy night–listening to the wind and rain into the wee hours of the night.
Being somewhat pressed for time, I put together a circuit starting at the Brown Gap Parking area and then taking the Madison Run Fire Road, Big Run Loop Trail, and finally returning via the Appalachian Trail back to the parking area. A moderate 7.4 mile loop that drops to about 1,700 feet after 2.5 miles and then spends 2.6 miles steadily climbing back to a highpoint of 2,871 feet at the Big Run Overlook. Crossing over the Skyline Drive, a relatively flat 2.2 miles along the Appalachian Trail returns me to the trailhead. Unfortunately, the last few miles were spent in a pretty heavy downpour but overall it was a nice way to spend the morning. Had there been a bit more time and a little better weather, it would have been nice to add another couple of additional trails such as Doyles River and Jones Run which drop down to a couple of nearby waterfalls. Oh well, there’s always next time.