This was probably the most challenging hike I’ve done since I started hiking, with the exception of Sky Meadows (which I made before I started tracking things, and before I was really prepared.)
Getting to the hike itself was a little bit of an adventure, as it doesn’t start from Skyline Drive, but at the end of Keyser Run Road in the back of random neighborhoods near Washington, VA. Part of the hike itself consists of what used to be the continuation of that road before the area was turned into a park.
So, the hike. It starts out more or less gently for about the first quarter mile, but then becomes increasingly difficult up until around the 2 mile mark. The hike parallels Keyser Run up a narrow gorge, so even though the trail is mostly well marked, it’s almost impossible to miss the trail because there’s nowhere else to go.
There were points where I had to do hand-over-hand climbing, and at least one spot that I had to boost the dog to help him up a ledge that was too high for him. He’s a medium, 50 pound dog, so most things don’t bother him, but this particular part was a little challenging.
The challenge was worth it, though. Although I suspect it’s nicer in the springtime when more water is flowing, almost every few feet there was a little cascade, waterfall, rill or some other vista of falling water. There was a constant gurgling, trickling sound. I almost got tired of taking pictures.
It was rough going for a bit, I had to take constant breaks so that I could catch my breath. Even though the temperature was in the 70s F, it felt as warm as some of the hotter summer hikes due to the exertion. I was definitely glad when I hit the junction called Fourway.
From Fourway, it was pretty much smooth sailing and downhill all the way to the end, down fire roads. I did encounter an equestrian doing laps on the road, for which she apologized. I told her I was perfectly fine with her riding up and down the road, although my dog had never seen a horse before. I think he thought it was some sort of large dog, and he wanted to make friends.
I am doubly glad she was there because she mentioned that there was a group of four bears along the trail ahead of me, but her horse had scared them off. I am a little nervous about bear encounters, as though where I grew up was next to and surrounded by National parks, there haven’t been any bears repopulating them.
I passed by a cemetery along the way as well, it was very well maintained. It made me a little sad to think about all the people who used to live within the bounds of the park that had their land seized and were basically kicked out, but on the other hand it was for a very good cause, and most of the time you can’t really tell that anyone ever lived in Shenandoah.
The leaves are just starting to barely turn up here. Hopefully soon, I will be seeing spectacular colors on my hikes.
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