This week for hiking, we decided to take a trail that starts from a parking lot along Route 211, Buck Ridge Trail and Buck Hollow Trail loop + Meadow Spring Summit (includes AT, which connects to Mary’s Rock Summit from Skyline Drive). In total the hike took approximately 5-6 hours.
We previously saw several times that the parking lot is always full. I thought there must be a big river along 211 and they had come to swim. Actually, the river is creek. It seems that everybody had come to hike here.
You can also access this trail from a parking lot along Skyline Drive. You may start down hill first. You can also enjoy a 1-2 hour hike to Mary’s Rock Summit from the parking lot.
We met a volunteer group at the first at the first junction of Buck Ridge and Buck Hollow Trails. It was a monthly volunteer activity of Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC).
A guy who is a member of PATC recommend that we go to along Buck Ridge Trail first. There has a very long stair climb uphill. He was right, going downhill on these steep stairs would be very hard after a couple hours of walking. We were thinking to go along Buck Hollow Trail first, but we changed our route.
We turned at the first junction, and found the long stairs. Indeed, it was really hard. It reminded me of Yamadera (means a mountain temple in Japanese) in Japan.
The incline changed to moderately steep after climbing up the long stairs for about 20 min. There was a ridge, which we walked along until Skyline Drive. We saw Mary’s Rock Summit from the middle of the ridge; it was the next mountain over. We felt it was very far.
At the end of August, the leaves were starting to change color. We saw a few yellow and red leaves. Such leaves will increase next week. There are many young trees in Buck Ridge Trail area, and we saw a lot of burned trees. There probably was a mountain fire. We would have seen completely different scenery before the mountain fire. It seems like the fire might have been about 15 years ago, but I couldn’t find any detailed information.
I saw turned-over stones several times during hiking. I thought someone turned the stone over, but I found a bee’s nest under the stone today. Maybe a black bear turned over the stone and to eat honey.
Also, we found a turtle (box turtle) on the trail. I didn’t know turtles can live in the mountains. Actually there are five species of turtles in Shenandoah National Park, according to the park web site.
We arrived at Skyline Drive after 2.5 hours hiking. We still had a enough time and we continued to go to Mary’s Rock Summit. Kids also can hike to the summit from this point.
After 1 hour walking, we finally arrived at the summit. The side path to the summit is well maintained. The summit was very busy and there was no space have lunch. This summit is accessible from two parking lots. That’s why it is very busy.
We went back to a scenic point we found on the AT and we had a lunch and rest. We always bring PB&J sandwich. I’d never had PB&J sandwich in Japan and I’d never imagined this combination. Actually, it’s tasty and good for hiking, which requires sugar and protein.
After we finished our lunch and rest, we only had to go downhill, but downhill was also hard. We started to walk Buck Hollow Trail which follows along a creek.
Yes, a creek. It should be a creek. But it didn’t rain recently. So the creek water was very low. We’d visited several creeks and falls from July but we couldn’t see enough water in any place. Although the water was clean, we couldn’t enjoy a creek view.
Continuing walking 2.5 hours from Skyline Drive, we went back to the first junction. That volunteer group had completed maintenance at the several points on trail. It’s a big help for all visitors.
Alltrails.com: Tracking log