The SNP website has some very useful hiking maps. After browsing some photos a friend of mine posted to Facebook of his recent hikes in SNP, I decided I wanted to go try the Rose River Loop Trail. It's listed as a "4 mile circuit," and looking at the topographic map of the area, I figured it was about 600 feet of elevation gain from the parking area just over 3,000 feet down to the Rose River at about 2,400 feet.
It was a gorgeous day for a hike. It started out at 78 degrees F when we parked the car at the Fishers Gap overlook, and it was 87F when we got back to the car at the end of our hike.
I really wanted the boys to come with me. As of Friday night, they said they weren't going, and my wonderful wife told me to go have fun and enjoy the hike. Saturday morning as I was about to walk out the door, 6-year old YB changed his mind and decided he wanted to go, too, so I loaded up his camelbak and snacks and we headed out.
Here are some pics and stats from our hike today:
We drove in the Thornton Gap entrance from Sperryville.
We parked at the Fishers Gap overlook.
(Note the ludicrous bicyclists in the background.)
View of the Shenandoah Valley from the Fishers Gap Overlook.
The trails are very well marked.
My wife calls this a Buttercup.
This was the most spectacular flower we saw today, and we only saw one during the whole hike. I'd never seen anything like it before. It's a Lousewort. (H/T to my flower expert, JoLee.)
Not pictured: several pretty birds and butterflies we saw throughout the hike, but were too fast for my camera skills to capture them.
YB on the trail.
If you hike the Rose River loop trail clockwise, most of the hike from the Fishers Gap overlook parking down to the Rose River Falls looks about like the picture above. After you get to the falls though and hike back up the hill along the "river" (stream), you will see several small waterfalls and rapids. It's a very pretty hike coming back up the hill from the falls along the stream.
YB at the bottom of Rose River Falls
We stopped here at the top of Rose River Falls...
...ate a snack and enjoyed the soft noise of the water going over the falls.
YB and me at the top of Rose River Falls
Self portrait looking down the falls from the top.
We passed a few fishermen catching these pretty brook trout then releasing them back into the water.
This is the fire access road that makes up the last part of the loop trail.
Normally, geocaches aren't allowed in National Parks. However, along the way back up the fire access road, we passed the Cave Family cemetery. It's a plot of private land in the middle of SNP, and the land-owners have given permission for a geocache to be placed there. Of note, there were several CSA soldiers buried in the cemetery. It's clearly still used by the family with fresh flowers at the graves and recent dates on some of the newer graves. Thank you to the Cave family for allowing the geocache to be placed there.
Trip Stats from the GPS:
- 4.59 miles hiked
- ~600 feet elevation gain (I think - I don't believe what Garmin Connect says below)
- 2 hours 11 minutes moving
- 1 hour 8 minutes stopped
Also, from Garmin Connect, you can click on the "terrain" button below and see where we hiked down and back up the hill.
I didn't know this before we went, but there's actually a very nice, reasonably priced restaurant in the Skyland Lodge. We stopped to use their restroom facilities (which were very nice and clean) and found the restaurant was perfect for us for lunch. The service was prompt, friendly, and professional. The food was local, fresh, and delicious.
YB was especially happy they had bottles of
In spite of my feet being a little sore and the fact that I had to carry YB for a good portion of the last uphill mile back to the parking area, it was an awesome day for a hike in SNP. I hope we can go back again to do some of the other trails like Hawsbill Peak.