I have been back to the Parkway many, many times over the years...but have just now finally completed the last section I had not traveled. A true treasure. Hopefully I get the chance to experience it all in one wonderful drive sometime soon.
This beautiful parkway is a valuable piece of Americana. Although it runs from exit #99 on I-64 in Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina, we got on in Cherokee and ran North. We hiked a few of the 300ish trails along the parkway and goofed off a little, That took two days. You could drive it all in one long day if you only wanted to drive it. There are many slowpokes so do not expect to break any speed records along the 469 miles of curvy road. I have been on many parts of the parkway over the years but always wanted to do it end to end. Now I want to take a camper and spend a month up there.
Gail A. on Shenandoah National Park
I went from Black Rock Gap to Pine Gap (AT shelter there), approximately 15 miles. It was hilly in a couple places, but nothing major. The trail went through vegetation tunnels and we saw bear scat, but didn't run into any bears. There were numerous places to stop and enjoy the view which really helped the enjoyment factor. About halfway, there is a stream with a good water supply. Since it crosses Skyline Drive several times, you never feel like you're too far away from civilization - but all the places were closed. Since we went off season, we only saw two other people on the trail. Nice!
I agree with Regina. I did the Shenandoah section of the AT 11 years ago. I would love to do the whole trail from Maine to Georgia in one hike but other demands do not allow that much continuous time out. Tis section is scenic, but my favorite is the middle section of the AT through Shenandoah.
Forgive me for reiterating my review from Skyline Drive, but it is an inherent part of any visit to Shenandoah, unless your hiking the AT (Which crosses the drive several times).
How could anyone not love this drive at any time of year. Though I am fanatically devoted to New England in the fall, this would be my top alternative. One of the great things about Skyline Drive is the numerous places to stop and enjoy the vistas. These stops also make the traffic bearable. Even when the park isn't very crowded, the two-lane thoroughfare attracts slow drivers like a magnet. With limited opportunities to pass, the pull-offs mean you aren't stuck behind anyone for long. It's not that I recommend being a speeding Griswold, but it can be a really long several hours of driving if you don't stop to enjoy the scenery.
Aside from the drive, there are a lot of hikes from the road that vary from easy to difficult. They give you access to scenery and history that the drivers largely miss. Also, don't forget that a lot of people lost their homes to create this park. I believe that the off-road hikes show respect for their loss, and teach something about a nearly extinct way of life. I have hiked here several times, and every hike is a pleasure and a new experience.
Eli W. on Shenandoah National Park
We hiked from Swift Run Gap to Big Meadow via the AT. Shenandoah was packed due to Memorial Day weekend. The trail was very nice and the climbs were moderate since the mtns were relatively small. (3500ft avg.) There were reports of bear sightings eventhough we didnt witness any. I got to experience my 2nd hitch-hiking experience at the end of this trip.