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.

Interstate 66


Interstate 66
Near Markham exit where mists cover the majority of mountain.


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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.

Skyline Drive Entrance


Skyline Drive Entrance


Autumn Leaves


Autumn Leaves


Ocean of Clouds

Ocean of Clouds
Ocean of Clouds
This is only an unofficial viewing point before Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. Unfortunately, the clouds were thick, and we only have this ocean of clouds to watch while we wait for the other two cars.


Trees


Trees
Near Dickey Ridge Visitor Center.


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.
Ocean of Clouds


Ocean of Clouds


Tree and Dickey Ridge Visitor Center


Tree and Dickey Ridge Visitor Center


Distant Town


Distant Town


Roadside Plants

Roadside Plants
Roadside PlantsRoadside Plants
Roadside Plants


Trees along Skyline Drive


Trees along Skyline Drive

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.

Trees and Skyline Drive


Trees and Skyline Drive


Trees and Skyline Drive


Trees and Skyline Drive


Trees along Skyline Drive


Trees along Skyline Drive


Mist along Skyline Drive

Mist along Skyline Drive
Mist along Skyline Drive
Unfortunately, from that onewards, the majority of Skyline Drive all the way till Pass Mountain was covered in dense fog like this. So it was slight disappointment as we passed some overlooks in mist.

Pass Mountain Overlook

The first official overlook that we stopped at, and one of the few overlooks in North Shenandoah that’s facing West.

Distant Town


Distant Town


Mountains


Mountains


Pass Mountain Overlook


Pass Mountain Overlook


Mountains


Mountains


Skyline Drive near Pass Mountain Overlook


Skyline Drive near Pass Mountain Overlook

Pinnacles Overlook

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.

Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


High Trees on Mountains


High Trees on Mountains


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Pinnacles Overlook


Pinnacles Overlook


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.

Stony Man

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.

Stony Man overlooking Skyland Resort


Stony Man overlooking Skyland Resort


Stony Man Summit


Stony Man Summit


Stony Man overlooking Skyland Resort


Stony Man overlooking Skyland Resort


Sea of Clouds


Sea of Clouds


Nearby Towns behind Clouds


Nearby Towns behind Clouds


Sole Traveler on Rocks


Sole Traveler on Rocks


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Stony Man Summit


Stony Man Summit


Skyline Drive behind Mist


Skyline Drive behind Mist


Misty Mountain


Misty Mountain


Nearby Towns behind Clouds


Nearby Towns behind Clouds


Stony Man overlooking Skyland Resort


Stony Man overlooking Skyland Resort

Big Meadow

Our next stop was Big Meadow, another visitor center located farther south, where we enjoyed some proper food (it was late in the afternoon).

Big Meadow


Big Meadow


Fruit


Fruit


Big Meadow


Big Meadow


Big Meadow


Big Meadow


Sunset Glow over Big Meadow Drive


Sunset Glow over Big Meadow Drive

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.

Trail


Trail


Dried Creek


Dried Creek


Binary Tree


Binary Tree


Pond


Pond


Fish

Fish
Fish
Oh gosh, this family of fish found habitence even in this tiny pond.


Autumn Leaves


Autumn Leaves


Creek and Trees with Autumn Leaves


Creek and Trees with Autumn Leaves


Creek


Creek


Creek


Creek


Waterfall


Waterfall


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.
Trail


Trail


Tree with Autumn Leaves


Tree with Autumn Leaves


Creek against Sunset Glow


Creek against Sunset Glow


After that, we headed North to Skyland Visitor Center to regroup ourselves, and then headed back home to call it a day.
Fireplace at Skyland Visitor Center


Fireplace at Skyland Visitor Center


Sunset Glow


Sunset Glow


Sunset Glow


Sunset Glow


Sunset Glow


Sunset Glow


Sunset Glow over Mountain


Sunset Glow over Mountain


Lights of Distant Town


Lights of Distant Town


END

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