This was a very short hike with a very pretty view. I am a little disappointed in myself, I should have extended the hike out further, walked all the way to the Shawl Gap junction, but for some reason I’ve been feeling pretty tired lately, so I only spent as many hours hiking this day as I did driving. That almost seems like a waste, but I still consider it time well spent.
It’s possible it was also because I was a little stressed out from getting there in the first place. For some reason there was a partial road closure on the way, and because I wasn’t all that familiar with the area, it made me uncomfortable. I ended up having to take a 10 mile detour, and eventually found the trailhead, which has ample parking for at least 5 or 6 vehicles.
The morning was grey and overcast, I had been a little worried it might rain, and I had almost canceled the hike altogether.
The trail starts out winding up and down and around several little stream gorges, through plenty of tree cover. My footsteps felt muffled, but on the other hand the falling of acorns from the trees made me almost feel like I was being followed as we hiked up. The trail surface quickly changed from sandy soil to rocks. Lots and lots of rocks, almost fields of small boulders that made footing rough at times. The trail quickly got steeper, as it started making switchbacks up the hill. I was very glad that it was well blazed, as sometimes it seemed pretty faint.
There are a couple of campsites along the way, and at least one unblazed trail that wasn’t mentioned on my trail description. I really should pick up some paper USGS maps of the area so I can see where some of these other trails go, and start making my own trail loops instead of relying on other guides. Perhaps when I’ve gotten more experience under my belt.
Eventually, I rounded a corner and got a great view north, towards Winchester. in the foreground was a funny shape that I’d seen on the map, that almost looked like a sailboat made out of ponds. I realized, from signs in the area, that it is a Virginia State Fish Hatchery, right next to a fork of the Shenandoah River. It made for an interesting vista in the foreground.
The trees are just starting to change color, but they’re not quite there yet. The rain has held this off somewhat, but I expect in about 2 weeks things will be lovely. I plan on making a hiking trip around the Virginia State Arboretum then, so there will be a lot of photos then.
On we went, up the spine of the rocks. There was a lot of slippery, rough footing, but nothing like the previous week with much hand-over-hand climbing. My dog had little to no problems getting around, as usual he was in doggy heaven at all the smells.
Eventually we got to the other side of the rocks, where there were views of the hills to the south. As if on cue, there were buzzards circling above on the thermals. It was a very tranquil spot for lunch. The wind started to pick up, and the clouds scudded away, giving the hike down a warmer, sunny feeling.
|More Pictures of Buzzard Rocks North|