Friday, May 1, 2015

Sugarloaf Hiking

The weather is starting to warm up and my schedule is slightly less crazy, which means time for some hiking! Mark and I went up to Shenandoah National Park last week to check out a new (to us) trail: Sugarloaf. The map said it was a 4.5 mile loop, so we decided to give it a try.

The hike starts on the Keyser Run Fire Road. It had rained quite a bit over the past few days, so there were a few muddy and/or flooded spots.

Like this. They weren't too hard to get around, though. After a while you make a right onto the Pole Bridge Link Trail, then make a right onto Sugarloaf Trail...

...which leads to a couple small stream crossings. The first part of the loop is in the woods with really no scenic views. One section of the trail was impressively hemmed in by tall hedges; it was almost like walking through a hallway.

The trail starts to get a bit more scenic about halfway through the hike, though I'm guessing you might not have this view in a few weeks once the leaves fill in.

Just as the trail starts to get more scenic, you cross Skyline Drive. I think this is the first hike I've done that takes place on both sides of the road!

It didn't take long after that to reach the first scenic view. This one was great!

We enjoyed the view for a little while, then continued on. By this point, we were following the Appalachian Trail, which would eventually lead us back to the car.

I remember when I first moved down here and started hiking; I thought it was the coolest thing ever that a relatively short drive from my house would put me on the Appalachian Trail. The mighty, mighty Appalachian Trail. That in some sections is just wide enough for my feet. Someday (probably not until I retire, realistically) I want to thru-hike the entire thing from Georgia to Maine.    :)

We eventually came to a series of fairly steep downhill switchbacks. At one of the first sets of them, you could just make out Skyline Drive waaaaaay below the trail. By the time we finished the switchbacks, we had descended so much that we were actually below the road!

We popped out directly underneath the Little Hogback Overlook.

This will all be green pretty soon!

We followed the Appalachian Trail back to Skyline Drive and popped out right near the parking area. Overall, it was a really nice hike! I think it wound up being a little longer than 4.5 miles, and with the stream crossings and scenic views there was plenty to see.

We stopped at one of the scenic overlooks on our way back out. This is looking out to the east...I love how the green is creeping up the hillside!   :)

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