Eager to take that first hike of spring but need to work out
winter kinks? Head to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. The hikes
descend from Skyline Drive, so you can warm up your legs on a downhill,
then linger at a waterfall or stream before the ascent back to your
One of our favorites is an eight-mile hike that begins on the
Hazel Mountain Trail, two hours from DC. Start at the Meadow Spring
parking lot, milepost 33.5.
The long, gentle downhill leads to White Rocks Trail and an
optional steep and rocky descent on a spur trail to a waterfall. Climb
back up and continue on White Rocks Trail to the junction of Hazel River
Trail; turn right and enjoy stream crossings, quiet glades, and evidence
of the people who lived here in the last century–piles of fieldstone, old
fencing and foundations. Daffodils and apple trees are signs of a long-ago
farmer. Meet back up with the Hazel Mountain Trail and turn right for the
gradual climb up to your car.
Want to stay the night? You can bunk at the park’s historic
Skyland Resort (milepost 41.7; opens for the season on March 29) or at Big
Meadows Lodge (milepost 51.2; opens May 16).
Shenandoah National Park, 540-999-3500.
This article appears in the April 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.