The area around Stony Creek in the Lee Ranger District of George Washington National Forest is an go to for car camping or semi-car camping ever since we moved to D.C. Typically, we’d make the mile long hike up Little Stony Creek for our own isolated spot, but there are plenty along Forest Road 92 itself. We decided to grab one of those this time around on a last minute trip
with a new mix of friends now that we’ve all had the jab. Hopefully this is the first of many more excursions.
While here, we explored a couple of the smaller hikes. The first being Tibbet Knob, the lesser known outcrop on the same ridge as the popular Big Schloss.
Shenandoah National Park is one of the parks thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail will cross during their journey between Georgia and Maine. However, I don’t know if the thru hiker ever really get the full Shenandoah experience if they only stick to the white blazes on the ridge following Skyline Drive and never try Blue-Blazing down on of the many hollows. While this could serve as the start of a spicy discussion of why I will probably never be a thru-hiker (JMT doesn’t count), I will save that clickbait post for another time. Instead, this post will highlight they typical Shenandoah experience with rushing cascades, crystal clear swimming holes, and rocky vistas out with views of the wide Virginian valleys. Maybe you’ll even see a black bear. All of which you’ll find on the Riprap Hollow loop.
My personal hiking preference are for the grand views of the new and more rugged mountains of the west. However, a benefit of hikes here in the mid Atlantic are the history that accompanies the trails. It is among the reasons I enjoy visiting Harpers Ferry and hiking up Maryland Heights, where the Union solders defended against Stonewall Jackson’s invasion into the north during the Civil War.
At one point on our eight day off trail backpacking trip into the Wind River Range, we set up our tent on a bluff overlooking a turquoise colored lake. No matter how often I’ve encountered them, they seem so surreal every time still. Across from us was the terminus of Connie Glacier spilling down into the lake. The funny thing was, we joked that probably the closest person from our five star camp this evening was at least 5 hour, 5 miles, or at least another valley away from us. We were roughly 1 to 2 days of tough and technical travel across talus & scree from the nearest trail, making those prospects not surprising at all. This was our experience in the northern portions of the Wind River Range, it beat us up and I still look forward to returning.
This is part 1 of 2 of our trip out to Wyoming and Colorado. In this part, we cover our eight day off-trail backpacking trip in the Northern Wind River Range. Get ready folks, this is a long read or very much “magazine” style.
Part of moving is learning to adjust to new surroundings and establishing new routines, especially during COVID times. We’ve enjoyed the many benefits that come with city life, but it has been a learning experience of the most optimal way to get out into mountains. Turns out, a two hour drive one way is a lot bigger barrier than 20-40 minutes. So going forward, we plan on making a weekend of it with some camping and hotel stays. For now in efforts to get back on the trail, we visited the closest mountain to the D.C. area in Sugarloaf Mountain. And as part of adjusting to our new home, Bradley and Brenna joined us for this classic D.C. hike.
“Do I go somewhere new or do I go somewhere I love?” is a common question among travellers. I have friends that have hike the same 200 mile trail (the John Muir Trail) more than ten times and I also have friends looking to rack up the country count. I was able to do a little bit of both over the course of 3 weeks. Explore down under, down under and return to the mountains of New Zealand.
This is the final entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.
About 3 weeks after I boarded the plane on Christmas to meet up with Mark in Australia, it was time to go home. Again, I typically stick the contents of our transit in a paragraph at the end of a long report, especially since getting out & heading home always seem less exciting than getting getting in. But here is my attempt to highlight the transit part of travel more as I include it with a short hike to wrap up our trip. Looking back now as I write this, we should have never left the island.
This is the eighty entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our travels home from New Zealand. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.
The steep but short hike up to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is typically hiked as an in & out day hike with plenty of time to make the long drive back to town for a good meal. Being someone that is more about the views than just camping, I usually prefer just a day hike. However, it pays to take it easy and smell the roses sometimes. Rather breaking the hike up, camping on the top of the world, and under the stars was a worthy experience. From our tent, we could hear the surrounding glaciers crack and had a perfect view of the tallest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook.
This is the seventh entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our tramp of to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.
If you are looking for an easy hike that provides for plenty of cascading stream views, the hike to Stiles Falls provides for a high views to work ratio. So it is a great hike for beginners or kid friendly hike. But it is a busy one for those same reasons.
The hike was closed shortly after we hiked here back in March, so I delayed in writing it up until now.
During peak foliage season, popular hikes like McAfee Knob can become very crowded. It seemed like standing room only up there just this past weekend (reddit). For such reasons, I only hike to McAfee during the weekday and for either sunrise or sunset. For the weekend, there are plenty other options along the Appalachian Mountains with outlooks. Angel’s Rest is such a place located about 30 minutes west of the Virginia Tech campus, yet we had plenty of time at the two major viewpoints all to ourselves during this peak hiking season.
This report was reposted on October 17, 2020 to include a video, new photos, and updated formatting.
McAfee Knob is among the most popular hikes in southwest Virginia and said to be the most photographed place on the Appalachian Trail with its own wikipedia page. The popular nature of the hike is a reason I avoid this hike typically and head over to Tinker’s Cliff unless I am doing a sunrise hike. When Keith visited last year, I had planned to write about our sunrise hike and even took a GPS track on it. However, that hike was completely in the fog.
About 1 year to the day, Keith visited us again so we gave sunrise another shot. As you can see, it was quite a nice success. Given we hiked mostly in the dark, I headed up there again to take some updated pictures of the trail for this report a month later during the peak foliage season. With Amtrak restarting train service to Roanoke from D.C the week I’m publishing this post, hopefully this will be just in time for you to plan a southwest VA getaway.