It was a blustery, and chill day, not exactly the kind of day you would expect in Spring, but Winter is still digging in claws in this area, even now.
I wanted a fairly easy hike, since I am still without my hiking staff after losing it. I also wanted to avoid river crossings, since that had been the cause of my calamity. So — The lengthily named Raymond R. “Andy” Guest, Jr. Shenandoah River State Park it was. It gave me a nice trip and hike without too steep of inclines and descents, and no big rivers to cross, just a gigantic one to hike next to.
This is a relatively newish park, some of the land has been acquired only in the last decade or so, and it has a brand new (and gorgeous) visitor’s center. I parked at the shambling looking horse stables, and made my way out.
Most of the first part of the trail is woodlands, with the trail meandering through river valleys, a vista that I’ve gotten pretty familiar with, but still enjoy. Part of my reason for hiking is also for fitness, so even if the views aren’t incredibly spectacular, I like being in the forest, and I like feeling my heart rate pick up and my body getting used to the rhythm of the hike.
This park has a dense network of trails, described on Hiking Upward as “a labyrinth” and they’re definitely not wrong. I only made one misstep, not totally paying attention at one intersection and wandering off on the wrong trail for about half a mile. I realized that my GPS was no longer making its characteristic beeps that I was on the trail, and realized I needed to turn around. Amusingly enough, if I had stayed on that trail it would have curved back around to where I needed to go in the first place!
The trail finally comes out to a vista point where you get some great views of the Shenandoah River. It was extremely windy by that point, so I huddled on a bench and drank my tea and a Clif Bar, trying to stay warm.
After that, the trail gently wound down to the lowlands by the river itself. This was a very pleasant portion of the hike, as the trail went alongside the river. There were ducks and geese in the shallows, flying up as I walked past. Plenty of benches lined the gravel trail, making me suspect that this is a great place in the winter. There were also a couple of cabins along the way, which would be a nice place to spend a spring or possibly even summer evening camping.
There was one difficult water crossing at the one end of the river section, as a canal was overflowing its banks, but I was able to go around one end and get away from it. After that, the trail wound back up the hill to the trailhead.
Afterwards, on the way out of town, I was particularly hungry for lunch, so I decided to stop by The Apple House Restaurant in Linden. It’s a little bit touristy, but a lot local — the kind of place that places like The Cracker Barrel are trying to be. Their specialty are apple doughnuts, which are incredibly delicious. I am both sad and glad I didn’t buy an entire dozen, as I doubt they would have made the car trip home. They also have sandwiches (named for many of the local college mascots) and some very delicious pulled pork BBQ. It’s definitely a great place to stop if you’re going into or out of any of the national/state parks in the area, and I’m sure they get quite busy during tourist season.
|Shenandoah River State Park|