Tag Archives: summer

Turk Mountain August 2016

After a long weekend of music at Lockn’ Festival I was not yet ready to head home.  Arrington is only three hours from my house so I had all afternoon to enjoy one last day of vacation before heading back to the grind.  Being near the southern entrance to the Shenandoah, I found Turk Mountain for a quick hike before heading home.

I forget how long the hike was but it was a good one.  Hiking on Monday it was rather quite along the trail.  Most people were stuck in their cubical at the office but I was able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.  The hike was a perfect balance of length and intensity I must say.  The really nice thing was getting to the top of the mountain and just hanging out.  The summit is a rather large sprawling complex of rocks that faces to the west.  I spent a long time just looking out across the valley while enjoying a cigar which was really relaxing.

I found a cozy spot at the top of the mountain overlooking Dooms to relax and smoke a cigar.
I found a cozy spot at the top of the mountain overlooking Dooms to relax and smoke a cigar.

This hike was the perfect way to end a fantastic weekend of music and fun.  Phish nailed it and it was so kick ass to see My Morning Jacket for the first time and then the Lettuce late night set.  Not sure when I will get this far south again but certainly looking forward to hiking this place again.  Having a “destination” like the summit of Turk Mountain was really cool.

Compton Peak August 2016

This summer has been hot and humid, back to the days I remember as a kid growing up here in Virginia. Weather like this has not motivated me to get out and hike. This particular weekend the weather was going to corporate for once. It ended up being in the low 80’s on top of the mountain with low humidity thrown in for good measure. The weather was perfect for a mid-summer hike.IMG_4363

With the nice weekend I expected the Shenandoah National Park to have more people getting out and enjoying the nice weather. For once I was able to find parking at the first place I wanted to hike. From the parking lot you have to cross over the road to the trail head. The hike is a simple out and back attached to part of the Appalachian Trail. The climb is a bit of a challenge but worth it when you get to the top. It has a pretty decent overlook of the valley below with a few farms thrown in for good measure.

The parking lot was empty but from the number of hikers on the trail I could tell the park was busy. I must have passed half a dozen people going in both directions. With the upcoming 100th anniversary of the NPS awareness is bringing people out to our national parks.  Even at the summit I was never alone, there was always someone with me. I must have spent twenty minutes hanging out with a constant stream of people coming and going. The day was pretty clear and you could see for miles as the mountains faded into mist along the ridge line.

Panoramic from the summit of the mountain.
Panoramic from the summit of the mountain.

It’s a quick little hike but a nice one. With Compton Peak being at the top of the park it also makes it really close to my house. If I don’t have a lot of time for a hike I can do this one real quick. Can’t wait for fall and cooler temperatures to arrive. I look forward to getting outside more as the weather becomes nicer. Nothing against summer but it is by far my least favorite season. I will take upper 60’s to lower 70’s and zero humidity any day.

Dickey Ridge Loop September 2015

dickey_ridge-sep_2015-02You may have noticed, I hike a lot when Nancy is away.  Just a week after my last hike, I am at it again.  Nancy left on Sunday morning for a business trip to St. Louis so after dropping her off at the airport, Jeremy and I headed to the Shenandoah for a hike.  Last week I hiked the southern district so this time around I found a hike in the north. When I lived in Woodbridge and Stafford I would hike the northern district often because it was closer to my house. Now that I live in Ashburn, the same drive gets me to the southern district so that is generally where I hike. I can get a good drive in the country, a long hike, and be home by 6 for dinner.

This time around I didn’t have the luxury of time. We got a late start so I found a new trail in the northern district.  All told Front Royal is only an hour from my house and the Dickey Ridge Loop is just 5 miles inside the park.  The hike itself is a small one being just 3 mile and I would say it is a moderate hike.  Lots of people on this one as well because of its location to the entrance and relative quickness.

part of the stone wall at Snead Farm
part of the stone wall at Snead Farm

From the trail head you head down a fire road towards Snead Farm.  This was private property before being bought by the park service to become part of the Shenandoah National Park.  I think the fire road is another reason the trail is popular.  The fire road provides easy access to something you can “see.”  Instead of taking the fire road to the farm, we took the path less traveled.  We headed straight up the mountain instead of taking the fire road.

Going this way we ran into lots of people coming from the other direction.  I honestly like to do the difficult part of the hike first to get it out of the way.  Let me tell you however the hike up the mount was a strenuous one, had to take a couple breaks even.  One nice thing is about halfway up the trail there is a clear cut section providing a nice view of the valley below.  Once we got onto the Snead Farm Trail, things got a lot easier and eventually you get to the fire road at the farm.  The farm has a few old building and a stone wall which are cool.

A great little hike if you don’t have a lot of time and its right at in the northern district of the Shenandoah.  You can make this a simple in and out to the farm via the fire road or you can make it a loop with part of the trail a more strenuous hike which is nice.

About halfway up the back side of the trail is this overlook.
About halfway up the back side of the trail is this overlook.

Big Run Loop September 2015

Lets get started!
Lets get started!

Nancy was going out with some friends so I had a Sunday afternoon all to myself.  I found a new trail to hike in the southern district of the Shenandoah and set out on my hike.  This trail is well south in the park and even from my house it took several hours for me to get there.

The weather that day started off pretty bad.  There was a slight chance of rain and wouldn’t you know it, it rained as soon as I got to the trail head.  Thankfully I planned ahead and brought my rain jacket so the rain wasn’t that big a deal.  The temps when I started where actually rather cool, an early sign that fall is not that far away.

big_run_loop-sep_2015-09The hike starts off rather easy, it down hill for a mile or two.  I personally prefer to hike uphill first as going down is easier.  So the entire time I am walking down hill I keep reminding myself that I have to walk  back up the mountain I just came down, boo.  It’s a nice trail that meanders through the woods and eventually crosses over Big Run creek.  From here you make your way up the mountain and catch the Appalachian Trail back to the parking lot.  Thankfully once you hit the Appalachian Trail it is pretty flat all the way back to the parking lot.

The trail is 6 miles with a huge elevation change about a third of the way through it.  I was a little surprised at how few people I meet on Big Run Loop.  Once I hit the Appalachian Trail I did see a lot more people as this is the backbone of the entire park and well traveled.  On this section of the trail you actually walk past an overlook which was cool.  A nice spot to relax for a while after climbing up the mountain.  I would have stayed longer but I was definitely ready to get back to my car.

A nice hike in the southern are of the park.  I like hikes of this length and with the elevation change it certainly is a work out.  There are only a few views of the surrounding valley so don’t hike this one expecting any awe inspiring views of nature but certainly if you want a challenging hike with not a lot of people this is a good one.

First Landing State Park July 2014

bald cypress
some of the bald cypress in the swamp

Photo Gallery

Earlier in the day I was disappointed with the Eastern Short park so went here to get a better hike in.  I wasted a lot of time at the other park but it was alright.  It just took longer than I wanted to travel to and from.  I at least knew First Landing would have a lot more trails to choose from, something I could spend several hours hiking.

This forest was much denser with lots of trees.  You could tell it was near a beach as most of the trail soil was sand.  Still hard to imagine all the trees this close to the ocean.  There were also shallow swamps areas as well with bald cypress trees.

first_land_july_2014-11All the hiking and I had worked up quite an appetite.  I found a local beer joint called Tapped Ghastropub in Virginia Beach.  I really wanted to just sit and have a couple of craft beers and this place was exactly what I was looking for.  I arrived well after lunch so it was pretty empty except for two others, one of whom was a business traveler.

When I finally made it to the venue I can’t tell you how great it felt to sit down for a while.  I would spend the rest of the night standing but at least before the show I could relax and get my energy back before rocking to a great Phish show.