M and I just got back from a four-night trip to Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia. I’ve been talking about it with people this week, and I’ve run out of positive adjectives. It was remarkably amazing in every way.
Most of our trip we spent hiking: 7 or 8 miles each day. Since we generally hiked from trailheads on Skyline Drive (the main 105-mile road running through the center of the park and the roughly along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains) to waterfalls, just about every single one of the hikes was down for several miles, then back up. Which was a strange thing to get used to. The trails were probably the best-marked ones I’ve ever hiked on. Every mile or so, there would be a granite post in the ground with a metal band around the top. The band would say what trail you were on and how far to other side-trails and destinations and whatnot.
The lodge we stayed in (Skyland) was great (and the view from the room was outstanding). And the “Early Bird” special package (for going before their busy season) was really fantastic. The weather could not have behaved any better while we were there. Move-related problems meant we didn’t have our digital camera with us, but the photos we took with film and my cellphone are definitely excellent.
I recommend this trip for anyone. The lodge meant you didn’t have to really be roughing it, but there’s more than 500 miles of hiking to a whole lot of great mountaintops and waterfalls. There’s 75 stunning overlooks along the road alone, so if you’re not even in a hiking mood, a drive through the park is also more than worth the time it takes.