Hiking Buzzard Rock of George Washington National Forest

It’s a weekend towards the end of October, when foliage forecast was at its peak for mountains in the mid-atlantic region, something that I wouldn’t attempt to miss. This time, I ventured into Northern George Washington National Forest and hiked Buzzard Rock Trail, in the best of autumn colors.

Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge


Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge

Since it was the weekend of peak foliage, I was originally planning to spend the night camping at Wolf Gap. Unfortunately, weather forecast were hinting at some violent overnight storm, so that was cut short to a day trip.
But still I was gambling with the weather a little bit. Intermittent drizzle, albeit very light, accompanied me on my way to the trailhead and towards the early part of my hike. But at the end of the day, both the trail and I remained dry, among the best views of the year.

By the way, a burnt truck on I66 blocked the highway for an hour, so it was already past noon by the time I reached the trailhead. Buzzard Rock Trailhead had parking for about 15 cars and was half-filled by the time I arrived. Online comments did suggest it was usually full on weekends of peak summer season.
And here’s GPS tracking.

Trail

 Trail
Trail
Not many leaves left for the first few hundred meters of trail.


Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color

But soon after the trail wrapped around some houses and headed deep into forest, autumn colors began to reveal themselves. That’s also where the trail started to gain elevation.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail


Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Colors
Leaves in Autumn Colors


Tree in Autumn Colors

 Tree in Autumn Colors
Tree in Autumn Colors


Forest


Forest
Binary tree!


Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail


Campground


Campground
At the intersection of a few trails.


Forest

 Forest
Forest Forest
Forest

About 2.3km from trailhead, I reached the northernmost point of the trail, with views of farmland and forests farther North.

View


View
View
View

It’s also where I (attempted to) had some snacks, only that I found a swarm of flies also inhabit that place. It’s quite unfortunate that rest of the trial was very much bug-free in this season, hopefully it’s only due to high humidity that they tended to fly low.

The rest of the trail follows a mountain ridge. Up till this point the trail was pretty flat and even, but onwards rocks began to take a more dominant role on the trails.

Trail

 Trail
Trail


Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path Rocky Path
Rocky Path


Leaves in Autumn Color


Leaves in Autumn Color

About 500 meters farther it was Buzzard Rocks, where a series of boulders made up the mountain ridge, providing wonderful views of rolling hills towards the West. And since it’s peak of autumn, the mountains were wearing their best colors of the year.

Mountains in Autumn Colors


Mountains in Autumn Colors
Mountains in Autumn Colors


Mountains in Autumn Colors


Mountains in Autumn Colors
Mountains in Autumn Colors
Mountains in Autumn Colors


Rock Face

 Rock Face
Rock Face
Rock Face
This photo might look scary but truth is it isn’t.


Trees on Rock


Trees on Rock
Amazing signs of life.


Country Road among Autumn Forest

 Country Road among Autumn Forest
Country Road among Autumn Forest


Distant Mountain Range


Distant Mountain Range


View from Buzzard Rock


View from Buzzard Rock


Mountains in Autumn Colors


Mountains in Autumn Colors
Mountains in Autumn Colors


Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge

 Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge
Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge

From this point on Buzzard Rock Trail continued for another 3 kilometers along the same ridge, as I followed the trail map by Alltrails. However, except very few unofficial vistas that were unfortunatly also heavily obscured by trees, there were hardly any exciting sceneries along the way, compared with awe and humbleness that Buzzard Rock imparted on its visitors. That’s why most visitors turned back at Buzzard Rock, and to me that made more sense.

Campground


Campground
This one’s on the ridge.


Trail

 Trail
Trail


Tree with Twisted Branches

 Tree with Twisted Branches
Tree with Twisted Branches
The one on the left at least had a upright trunk, but for right one it’s like the entire tree was dancing.


Branching Out

 Branching Out
Branching Out


Front Royal-Warren County Airport


Front Royal-Warren County Airport
From one of the overlooks. Most of overlooks past Buzzard Rock were facing East.


Trail

 Trail
Trail


Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color
Shrub that grew close to ground.


Rocks

 Rocks
Rocks


Forest

 Forest
Forest


Tree

 Tree
Tree


Bushes in Red

 Bushes in Red
Bushes in Red
If it’s a larger field this could look mystical, like the silvergrass field from the Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.


Village View


Village View


Village View

 Village View
Village View Village View
Village View


Red


Red
Didn’t see how petioles could change colors before.


Decorated Earth


Decorated Earth


Tree in Autumn Colors


Tree in Autumn Colors


Tree with Twisted Branches

 Tree with Twisted Branches
Tree with Twisted Branches


Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail


Palette


Palette


Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail


Leaves in Autumn Colors

 Leaves in Autumn Colors
Leaves in Autumn Colors


Stain


Stain


Trail

 Trail
Trail


Village View

 Village View
Village View


Twisted Tree along Trail

 Twisted Tree along Trail
Twisted Tree along Trail


Twisted Tree

 Twisted Tree
Twisted Tree


Fallen and Twisted Trees


Fallen and Twisted Trees


Trees with Many Branches


Trees with Many Branches


Burned Trunk


Burned Trunk
Possibly from lightning.


Signs of Autumn


Signs of Autumn

So two and a half hours later I was back at Buzzard Rock, tired and a little bit bored. Good thing was that hillside was as enchanting.

Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge


Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge
Hills from Buzzard Rock Ridge


Country Road among Autumn Forest


Country Road among Autumn Forest


Mountains in Autumn Colors


Mountains in Autumn Colors


Distant Hills


Distant Hills


Creek in Forest


Creek in Forest


Relax


Relax

This time I found a piece of rock (below) to myself, that is, without the annoying company of bugs, sat back and unwound myself (above).

Rocky Overlook


Rocky Overlook


Blouders along Ridge


Blouders along Ridge


Pine Tree

 Pine Tree
Pine Tree

A few other brave souls were anticipating sunset in a most leisure way, on hammocks. Since it’s a rather cloudy day, I wished them good luck and headed back to the parking lot.

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path


Forest

 Forest
Forest Forest
Forest


Trail

 Trail
Trail


Leaves in Autumn Colors

 Leaves in Autumn Colors
Leaves in Autumn Color Leaves in Autumn Colors
Leaves in Autumn Colors


Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail


Leaves in Autumn Colors

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color


Creek


Creek
That was dry and seemed too unorganized for the season.


Transition


Transition
Petioles were turning red too.


Trail

 Trail
Trail

With a longer than preferred route and many photos taken along the way, I was back at the parking lot in more than five hours’ time (2.5 hours should be more than enough if one was just heading for Buzzard Rock).

Country Road


Country Road

Before I left, I pulled into a church parking lot that’s closer to civilization (with cellular coverage) to set my navigation, while taking a final look at the hills of George Washington National Forest.

Farm beore Mountains


Farm beore Mountains


END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Hiking Buzzard Rock of George Washington National Forest by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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