VA: Shenandoah National Park

Last weekend one of Eric's college friends was in town, and we and several others took him out to hike in Shenandoah National Park. It was the first day of National Park Week and I expected it to be a lot busier (it was a little chilly but otherwise beautiful), but we got lucky and there was hardly anyone else on the trails or the road. I had been to Shenandoah once before with my best girl friend right after we moved to DC; we went backcountry camping when it happened to be the hottest two days of the entire year. Yep. So I was looking forward to seeing more of the park and not thinking about dying from heat exhaustion or dehydration.

Shenandoah is about an hour and a half from where we live (~20 miles north of DC), so it is a totally doable day trip to go hiking or a quick weekend getaway for camping or staying in Front Royal, the city right next to the main entrance. We met up with all the friends at The Apple House outside Front Royal, a restaurant that is supposed to be famous for its apple donuts. I personally don't think they're that great (they don't really taste like apple), but they are warm and sugary, so I guess that counts for something. The country store that goes along with the restaurant is kind of neat, though. They have lots of local wines, honey, barbeque sauce, and stuff like that. We got a couple of bottles of wine for our moms for Mother's Day and picked up some local Virginia honey.

Once we got to Shenandoah, around 11-11:30ish, we drove on Skyline Drive until we got to the closest parking area to the trail we wanted to take. We wanted to do Overall Run Falls, a hike that takes you by a 93 foot waterfall. After finding parking (Mathews Arm campground is the closest parking area and it was closed), walking down a nice giant hill that we realized we'd have to walk back up, and finding some signage, we were on our way. The day was nice for hiking up and down some hills and the waterfall was nice, too.

The trail takes you by a teaser waterfall first, which is also nice.

But the real waterfall is very pretty and worth the time it takes to get down to it. There are no direct paths to the area where these pictures are from, so you just have to climb down. I have a hard time with that (my tennis shoes that I've been using for hiking are very slippery) and at some point Eric handed me a stick, which made climbing around significantly easier.

We also had the luck to see a snake on the walk back to the cars. I had never seen a snake in the wild before so it was pretty cool.

As soon as we got to the parking area for the campground (which was closed), we saw a bunch of deer. They were not scared of us at all. The picture below is not zoomed in, for proof of how close we were to them.

If you have the chance to get to Shenandoah, it's gorgeous. Skyline Drive is nice (it looks very similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the roads are less narrow). And the other time I was there, we saw a bear! What better reasons do you need to get to a national park? :)
VA: Shenandoah National Park VA: Shenandoah National Park Reviewed by Maria on 2:32:00 PM Rating: 5

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