Updated on November 16, 2017
Day Trip to Shenandoah National Park
A typical Autumn weekend day in the US, with midterms and stuff done, I went on this journey to Shenandoah National Park with some of my friends.
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Before we actually got to the Park, it was already a treat of autumn colors along interstate from DC suburb, where I lived, to Front Royal, the North entrance to Shenandoah National Park, one that swept away my drowsiness as a usual result of early rising and agitated my anticipation for a wonderful day to come as the melody of the folk song Shenandoah rang in my mind.
But unfortunately, even if we picked the day in weekend that’s got better weather forecast, we were greeted with a Shenandoah that’s hid most of herself behind thick clouds, blocking views but at the same time providing just the right amount of mystery for a crisp autumn morning.
Since it would be a caravan of three cars and we were the first to arrive, we stopped briefly at Royal Plaza, the (presumably) only shopping complex in what would otherwise be an affluent little town where we bought meals for the day, well, by which I meant whoppers from Burger King which was my friends’ favorite.
We stoppped at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center finishing breakfast while greeting friends in different cars, picked a few trails for the day (Stony Man and Dark Hollow Falls), and went on the move.
This is the second time we stopped in the park. There’s no marked parkings here, but under the suggestion of one of our friends, we really enjoyed the high trees here.
Pass Mountain Overlook
The first official overlook that we stopped at, and one of the few overlooks in North Shenandoah that’s facing West.
Second overlook that we stopped at, where we had this feast of maple leaves in vivid color in front of us. The passing clouds made the mountains dynamic and provided infinite possibilities for my Photoshop savvy.
After that, we made our way to Skyland Visitor Center where we took a brief rest and enjoyed some refreshments, before we headed for the nearby Stony Man Trail, the day’s first proper hiking.
Fast forward to the summit because there’s really nothing much to talk about the trail, only that it’s a fairly easy trail (my friends rated it 0 out of 5) that’s not too long, and we came slightly later than the best of autumn so we saw more leaves on the ground than on the trees.
So the summit of Stony Man was a bunch of rocks that really stood out among ranges of mountains of trees, that can actually be seen from Skyland Resort. It wasn’t hard (nor remotely dangerous) to navigate the rocks, and one can post for wonderful pictures with rocks nearby, the trees in prime autumn color in the mountains, and if time’s right, distant towns thinly veiled in clouds.
Our next stop was Big Meadow, another visitor center located farther south, where we enjoyed some proper food (it was late in the afternoon).
Dark Hollow Falls
Our final stop of the day was Dark Hollow Falls, located not far from Big Meadow. It’s too a pretty easy trail, perhaps the only problem was that it rained the previous day and the grounds were (no-so-)annoyingly muddy, and there’s more elevation change, for which I would rate it 1 out of 5. And unfortunatley except for very few maple trees hanging in there, it’s pretty much a scene heralding the bleak winter that’s soon to follow.
This is pretty much it, a not-so-gorgeous waterfall near the end of the trail. Perhaps, the distant mountain with shining colors under sunset would be a sight not beaten in splendor, if not for the trees in the way.
After that, we headed North to Skyland Visitor Center to regroup ourselves, and then headed back home to call it a day.