dogs on leash
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east. Shenandoah's Blue Ridge Mountains are covered by hardwood forests that are home to tens of thousands of animals. The Skyline Drive and Appalachian Trail run the entire length of this narrow park that has more than 500 miles (800 km) of hiking trails along scenic overlooks and waterfalls of the Shenandoah River. The highest peak is Hawksbill Mountain at 4,051 feet (1,235 m).
Unbeatable views and some very fun scrambling. BUT - the crowds can be huge at different parts of the year. Like bumper to bumper traffic bad - lines at the top of the mountain to get past certain scrambles which could take forever based on some of the people I have seen attempt this trail. If going during peak colors - going during the week.
This trail was hard, it is a lariat so it is mostly uphill. But so worth it. We barely saw anyone else until we were almost back to the trailhead. The woods are recovering from the recent fire, but there is soot everywhere. Some areas were over grown in spite of the fire. Bring some wipes because if you grab onto a tree branch, most likely you will bring back a black hand. The view from the top was amazing, I plan to do this hike again.
Started at the Dickey Visitor Center picnic area. Go along the picnic area road and across Skyline Drive onto the service road. Go straight until the service road goes up the hill to the right. You go to the left onto the Snead Farm Loop Trail, which will take you to Snead Barn and then joins to the Dickey Ridge Trail to take you around Dickey’s Ridge (and gives you a magnificent view of the valley). The total loop is about 3.5 miles. It does have some climbing in it. I did it in 45-degree weather (Jan 4, 2017) with rain jacket, sweat shirt, and t-shirt on most of the time except for the climbs, where the jacket and sweat shirt came off. Great trail for a moderate hike. You can add on the Fox Hollow Trail loop to add 2.5 miles to the hike. It joins the Dickey Ridge Trail. BTW, the park trails are open all year long unless the park is closed due to bad weather. And, you can take you dog on this hike with you.
I'd rate it a little more than moderate. The trail is steep and if you go the gravel way it's slippery- especially going back down. But the view at the top is lovely and the rocks are sturdy so you can rest on them and really enjoy your view and accomplishment. Will definitely be tackling again!