Spring Hiking, Shenandoah National Park, No Matter the Weather Written by Mark Seder
Your Shenandoah Valley Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, Lodges and Cabins can get you started on day of hiking, if that is your pleasure. A hearty breakfast from one of the Shenandoah Valley lodgings will prepare you for the day ahead.
Sometimes you can't count on the best weather when planning your hike but that can lead to one of the bests hikes you may take. On a recent Spring hike in Shenandoah National Park, on the Sugarloaf Trail (Mile Post 21), we had that happen to us. The Sugarloaf trail starts close to Hogback Mountain which gets you eventually to about 3500 Ft at it's highest peak. On this particular early morning the closer we got to our destination, to begin our hike, the foggier and mistier it became.
It is a quite a peaceful feeling when you start down the trial in a world of light fog and mist but extremely beautiful. This particular trail proceeds down hill to about 2200 ft and then back to the top of Hogback Mountain. Starting with an inviting sea of ferns we then traveled thru a dense forest of mountain laurel that was just about to go into full bloom. As we wound our way down the trail crossing several streams and enjoying our serene surroundings we were almost at the trail to start us back toward the top when we spotted pile of large rocks to our left about 50 ft. away, that was a perfect spot for a bear's den. It was and a 300 lb - 350 lb black bear was as startled to see us as we were to see him and took off from the cave up through the woods. It was a site we won't soon forget. After we caught our breath and nerves we continued on to have a awesome wildlife day. Next on our wildlife adventure, beside the grey squirrels, chipmunks and occasional rabbit, we saw an indigo bunting and then further up the trail a peregrine falcon took off from above us and circled around landing in a tree in front of us. What a magnificent bird. The talons were quite large and the the colors amazing. Almost to the end of the hike a large whitetail deer stood dead ahead on the trial trying to figure out if we were friend or foe.
All in all a hike that we thought may be just a trudge in the rain and fog turned out to be one of our most unforgettable and although the views of the Shenandoah Valley were obstructed by clouds and fog it still provided a magnificent setting.
Don't despair if you have been planning your hike and you left your inn's warm and comfortable room only to find a bit of rain and fog on the mountains, your hike may turn into a magical adventure like ours.
The Shenandoah Valley lodging that you stay at should have all the information you need to find hiking trails near them. Remember to take plenty of water, dress appropriately and most importantly take out whatever you bring into the woods. Please don't litter.
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