Hike 8- Mary's Rock via Appalachian Trail (Southern Approach) Virginia.
2.5 miles / 741 foot gain in elevation / out & back / 2 hours on the trail
The weather on our second day in Shenandoah National Park was much nicer than our first day. The wind had died down and the sun was shining. We still needed our hats and coats, especially at the top of the mountain, but it was perfect hiking weather. I gave my family the option of doing the 3.4 mile hike to Mary's Rock by the northern approach or the 2.5 mile hike by going the southern approach. They all voted for the 2.5 mile trail. Little did they know that by choosing the shorter hike I would make them do a second hike that day!
We parked at Spring Meadow Parking lot at mile 33.5. The trail head is across the street from the parking lot. The beginning part of this hike is through the mountain laurel and even though it wasn't in bloom I can only imagine how pretty it would be. We came across the ruins of a old hiker cabin that burnt down in 1946. Then we continued on to Mary's Rock.
Mary's Rock is composed of Pedlar granodiorite and has an elevation of 3,514 feet. The panoramic views are breathtaking. The legend of this site is a young woman named Mary Thornton once made this hike along to the rocky summit. When she returned she carried a bear cub under each arm.
I kept my eyes peeled for some bears, but sadly we didn't see any. Or maybe it is a good thing we didn't see any. We did however spend some time enjoying the views. My youngest son had no interest it getting close to the edge of the rocks and instead sat a safe distance from the cliffs and he held onto the dogs as we scrambled over the rocks and took pictures.
I am very grateful we didn't do this hike on the day before. It had been so windy the day before and I know if we made it to the top we wouldn't have been able to stand up and enjoy the views without fear of getting blown off the edge!
Hike 7- Backrock Summit via Trayfoot Mountain and Appalachian Trail
4/4/18 Backrock Summit via Trayfoot Mountain and Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park Virginia
1.1 miles / elevation gain 187 feet / loop / 2 hours on trail
As we entered the Thornton Gap Entrance Station on our first day at Shenandoah National Park we were told there was a high wind advisory and to be on the look out for falling trees on our hikes. When we had gotten up that morning we notice the high winds at our campground and I had already started making alternate hiking plans. I had planned on doing a hike that would take us to the highest peak in Shenandoah, but with the wind I was a afraid we would get blown off the mountain. Now with the threat of trees falling on us we went with Plan B. So instead of a long hike we drove Skyline Drive and enjoyed the scenic views and overlooks.
We entered the park at mile post 30 and drove south to the Byrd Visitor Center by Big Meadow at mile marker 51. At the visitor center we watched a nice video about Shenandoah National Park and I bought a Shenandoah collector's patch to add to my camera bag. We talked to one of the park rangers and got some additional maps for the park's hiking trails. I came with a Falcon Guide "Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park" and I had already planned most of our hikes using that guide and AllTrails, but I always enjoy talking to the rangers to get any additional tips for hiking trails.
We got back in our truck and continued driving south to mile marker 84.8. There we parked at the Blackrock Parking Lot. We decided to hike to Blackrock Summit since it was only a 1 mile loop and it looked like it would have good views despite the wind. This trail was short and sweet and the views were fantastic!!! We always enjoy a good rock scramble and climbing up the rocks to get a panoramic view was so much fun. When the winds kicked up we had to brace ourselves so we didn't get knocked over!
I would highly recommend this hike to anyone. It was easy to get to Blackrock Summit and if you wanted to make this a longer hike there is a trail that connects to it, The Furnace Mountain Trail. Also there is the Blackrock Spur trail (you can see it in the map in the picture above).
It was also really nice to enter from Thornton Gap and get to see a lot of Skyline Drive heading to this hike especially since it was our first time visiting this National Park. The mountain views really change along the drive and I'm glad we got to see so much of it.
After the hike we headed back north on Skyline Drive and to the campground. I made notes on my map of where we should stop for lunch on the next day. We also stopped at quite a few overlooks and ate our lunch at The Point Overlook, which is at 3235 foot elevation. I was hoping to see some bears, but we didn't. We did talked to a Thru Hiker on the Blackrock Summit Trail and he said there was a bear two miles back from that trail that ran across the road. We kept our eyes peeled but we didn't see it ourselves.
Hike 6- Thurston Griggs to Appalachian Trial to Black Rock, Maryland
3.3 miles / 928 foot elevation gain / out & back
We hiked on the Appalachian trail!!!!! The Thurston Griggs Trail is no joke. I almost didn't do this hike because it had rained and snowed the night before. When I planned this hike I wasn't thinking about snow since it was April! But mother nature decided she wasn't done with winter. I am so glad decided to go and didn't let a little bad weather stop us.
The hike is an intense uphill climb. We were walking through streams and over rocks. There was flowing water along the side of the path and I loved listening to the water rushing down the mountain. Once we connected with the Appalachian Trail (AT) the path leveled off quite a bit compared to the first part. Most of the ground was covered in snow, but the path was nice and clear. Once we reached Black Rock the views were amazing.
We had the place to ourselves. We never saw another hiker. I had read that Black Rock can get crowded and I'm glad to say we got to enjoy the views for as long as our courage would let us. It is scary being so far up!
I made a video of our camping trip at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Hagerstown Maryland. In the video is a clip of the hike.
Day 3 in Acadia National Park we headed back to the Park Loop Road for some more hiking. We left the campground around 9 am and stopped at Town Hill Market to pick up wraps and sandwiches for a picnic lunch for later in the day. Then we hopped on the Park Loop Road and parked at Sand Beach. From the parking lot we crossed over the Park Loop Road and got on the trail head for the Beehive & Bowl Trails. From there we followed the Gorham Mountain Trail. The views were outstanding. We really enjoyed this hike. The dogs really enjoyed taking a break at the top of the mountain and cooling off under a bush while we enjoyed the views.
We continued down Gorham Mountain Trail and picked up the path on Ocean Drive. This is a nice level path that we took back to our truck at Sand Beach. We did stop a few times on the way back. We couldn't resist another stop at Thunder Hole.
When we got back to the truck we devoured our lunches. That hike was intense and we needed to fuel ourselves back up!!! So much for the picnic lunch. Instead we parked the truck by Hunters Beach and enjoyed the air conditioning in the truck to cool us down. But I can't complain about the views.
We headed over to the quieter side of the park and we stopped at Echo Lake for a swim. My jaw dropped when I saw the huge mountain cliffs along side the lake. It was magnificent! I however didn't get a picture!!!! My husband snapped a quick picture of the boys while I took the dogs for a little walk. SIDE NOTE: dogs are not allowed on Sand Beach or Echo Lake. When I handed off the dogs to my husband to take back to the car I enjoyed relaxing on the beach and watching the boys swim. It was so pretty and I can't believe the only picture we have is from my husbands cell phone! I must go back and get better pictures next time!
After the lake we drove to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. I didn't have high expectations for this stop. I knew everyone was pretty exhausted at this point, but the boys LOVED it at Bass Harbor. They loved climbing on all the rocks. I think it was a nice break from hiking, but they still had the fun of climbing on huge rocks! I loved hearing the bell of the buoys out in the water and watching the sailboats go by. I really was a great spot to sit back and relax and take in the beauty of the island.
I am so glad we stopped here. They boys later in the trip on the way back home noticed a map at the rest stop and saw the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse picture on the cover and they were so excited that they knew that place! It is very iconic and I'm glad we went.
We headed back to the Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA after that and enjoyed a relaxing night at the campground with a campfire and beautiful sunset.