Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shenandoah Nat'l Park Hike - Rose River Falls Loop Trail

Today was only the second time I've been to Shenandoah National Park (SNP).  The first time was when my parents came to visit last spring and we drove through just enjoying the scenic drive on our way to Luray Caverns and Monticello.  When we drove through, I saw lots of trail head signs and nice looking hiking trails, and I have wanted to go back ever since.

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.

The metal band around the tops of the trail markers tell you mileages to key features and intersections in each direction.

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.


Hilary said...

It looks like an absolutely perfect day. I just love that photo of your little guy with his root beer!

ethelmaepotter! said...

These are fantastic pictures, but I guess it helps that your scenery was so magical!

Dianne said...

YB is seriously adorable
the photo of him on the fire trail is so sweet, touching

I would never have made it 5 miles in heat like that
ahhhhh to be young ;)

thanks for visiting my petals post

SamanthaSimons said...

Beautiful pictures...what an amazing area. I'm sure it was a great day! That root beer seems like the perfect cap!