Shenandoah National Park
It was my first ever self-planed hiking roadtrip which turned out to be amazing ever since the very beginning.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the song Take me home, country road by John Denver. Every friend of mine knows how much I’d love to sing this song for no reason randomly. And it would be great to discover all the places mentioned in the lyrics, which is the one and only reason I planned out this Shenandoah trip. “Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River~”
I started planning a month ahead in order to book the best hotel and I was simply excited about it since a long time ago. And it turned out all my plannings were necessary and actually helped us a lot on the way because of my familiarity of the park.
Day 1 Hikes & Sunset & Stargazing
We set off from Duke at around 7 and wasted 2 hours on breakfast that we hadn’t left Durham by 8:30am. I was a bit reckless during the frist few hours driving since I never drove in North Carolina but I got used to it very quick. Since we were going to the South entrance of the Park which is along the Blue Ridge Parkway, mainly all the road we drove were state roads instead of faster interstates. Nevertheless, it was another kind of enjoyment while you could see the vast ranches with cows, horses and sheep on the way. What’s more, I got a legitimate reason to loop Take me home, country road !
We arrived around noon and started our first hike which is called Black Rock. It was a short warm-up trail but with unique piles of piles of rocks in the end of the trail. We climbed to the top of the rock overlooking the mountains.
Our second trail is Doyles River Falls which is a bit strenuous with great elevations ups and downs. There are upper and lower two falls and are definitely worth visiting.
The sunset was much earlier than we thought. After the second hike, we had half an hour to find a overlook for sunset. Indeed, it took us exactly half an hour to find a perfect outlook. This was the best sunset I had ever seen before. Because of the elevation, we were able to see the entire skyline without any obstructions. The wideness and the richness of the color layers of the sunset was beyond amazing.
The stargazing was also amazing as we also saw a lot of deers at night in the park. It was freezing cold but I was able to see three fleeting but shining shooting starts which is all I wanted.
Day 2 6-hour trail & Bonfire
This day we mainly got one event: climb a mountain along a 6-hour strenuous trail. I never did such a long trail before and I was excited to see how it began. The trail is called Old Rag and is the highest rating trail within the park. The first part of the trail is classic winding some trails which was ok but still takes us at least two hours. We were able to reach a high overlook to see the ranch and mountains in the same frame which was simply marvellous.
The second part was quite challenging but interesting. It was all about rock scrambles. We were literally rock climbing but in a different way.
Then we arrived at the top of the mountain. IT WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN TOP. I was able to approach a cliff which really scared me but gave me a once in a life time view of the nature.
The last part of the trail was actually the hardest part. After reaching the top, going back to the beginning is hard since the goal was already accomplished. It took us longer for the come-back trail compared with climbing up. However, it was a great experience that we all managed to push ourselves to the limit.
This trail inspired me to take on more difficult trails in the future which I am going to do during the Spring Break and my life.
The last thing we did was bonfire at night. It was miraculously better than I thought with no one having prior knowledge of lighting a fire with woods. We ended up cheating using some chemical liquids but the fire was amazing. With my favorite songs from the speaker, I enjoyed the moment so much.
Day 3 Luray Caverns & Skyline Drive
We went to a world-famous Caverns in the town of Luray that we lived in. The caverns was much larger than I thought and was definitely worth visiting even you are not interested in caverns in the first place. The most astonishing view for me is the reflection of reef in the water. It looks exactly like two real reefs at the top and the bottom respectively.
In the afternoon, we continued to drive on the rest of the Skyline Drive and stopped by a few overlooks to appreciate this great landscape gifted by the nature.
All in all this is one of the best roadtrip I have ever had and I do find I have a great passion in hiking. I always put all my enthusiasm into planning which I believe I am a good planner. I would love these kind of trips happening more and more. If you do read until here, please let me know if you are interested in any roadtrip with me if you are also a fan of either hiking or just simply nature. I promise I will be the best guide you find (exempted from legal liability though haha).
Shenandoah National Park