Rocky Mount Loop – Shenandoah National Park

A week of 100 degree temperatures got me longing for the mountains. Even if it wasn’t going to be significantly cooler, at least I would have a view. So I pulled out my copy of “Day & Overnight Hikes in the Shenandoah National Park” by Johnny Molloy and started flipping pages. I chose the Rocky Mount Loop – a 9.8 mile loop beginning at the Two Mile Run Overlook at milepost 76 on the Skyline Drive.

Molloy writes “If you like wilderness hiking in solitude, take this ambitious loop” and gives a hiking time of 6 hours, round-trip. I have to agree that the route was, at least for me, ambitious. Not so much for its length, but the 2500 feet of elevation traversed.

I arrived at the Two Mile Run Overlook around 9AM, loaded up my backpack, and took off. I wanted to break in a new, lightweight, backpack so I loaded some miscellaneous gear (some that I’d need and some that I wouldn’t). I wound up carrying about 15 lbs (including 1.5 liters of water, which, unfortunately was not quite enough and, to make matters worse, didn’t pack the purifier). At about 4.6 miles, there was a stream with enough flow that I would have been able to refill.

Passing only two other hikers, the route definitely delivered on its promised solitude. And the view from Rocky Mount (at 2741 feet) was worth the effort. There’s a small clearing near a stream at about the halfway point that would make a nice campsite for an overnight hike. At about 6 miles you reach the low-point of 1200 feet and begin a steady climb back up to 2800 feet to the Two Mile Overlook. As for wildlife, a black bear apparently hangs out around the 1.5 mile point. I got a quick glance of him on the way out but got a much better look on the return trip as he scrambled away. Much too quick for a photograph, however.

Overall, it was a nice, challenging, hike. It would have been a bit better if I’d brought the water purifier, however. Oh well, that’s what I get for being a bit too anxious to hit the trail.

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