Front Royal, VA to Waynesboro, VA via Skyline Drive
We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. Earlier this week I uploaded a blog post about the first day of our vacation. This blog post provides details and photographs of our second day of vacation.
We checked out of the Quality Inn Skyline Drive on Monday, May 15, at 6:20 am, after a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We drove straightway to Skyline Drive; the north entrance was located within 2 miles of our hotel. For the next 9 1/2 hours we drove the entire length of Skyline Drive (105 miles), from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap. We stopped at LOTS of overlooks and hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls. Here are some of the photographs that I took at the overlooks.
From the Signal Knob Overlook you can see Signal Knob, the northernmost peak of Massanutten Mountain. You can also see the south fork of the Shenandoah River.
The view at Browntown Valley Overlook looks straight out across the Browntown Valley to the Massanutten, with Signal Knob at its right-hand end.
From the Range View Overlook you can see Skyline Drive beckoning you on to the next overlook.
Marys Rock Tunnel is 610 feet long; it was blasted through the ridge about 1932.
There was a sign at Jewell Hollow Overlook that discussed wall construction. The sign read: “In the 1930s, stone walls in Shenandoah National Park were built in two styles of masonry: dry-laid and ashlar. Dry-laid walls, like those here at Jewell Hollow Overlook, could be built by less-experienced stone workers, like the young men of the CCC, since they require only moving and aligning heavy stones–more muscle than skill…”
Skyland Resort is located at mile marker 41.7 and sits at Skyline Drive’s highest elevation, 3,680 feet.
What can I say about Dark Hollow Falls. I have hiked the trail to the falls three times. The first time was with Mom in June 1994. I was 38 years old at the time; Mom would be 56 years old in a couple months. The second time I hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls was with Bob in May 2001. I was 45 years old at the time. Sixteen years later I hike down that trail once again to the bottom of Dark Hollow Falls.
From the parking lot, which is located at mile marker 50.7 and at an elevation of 3,425 feet, the trail is a round trip of 1.4 miles. The descent is about 440 feet, which means you have to climb back up from the falls 440 feet! A trail description states that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
This year the thought of hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail caused me trepidation. I had a scare, while at Bushkill Falls earlier in the month. We were hiking around the Main Falls. We planned to do more hiking than that, intending to see more waterfalls than only Main Falls. I got lightheaded, shaky. My breathing was not good. My heart was beating very fast. My chest started to hurt. I sat down on a wooden rail for quite a while, until everything returned to normal. Then we began the climb back to the car. It took a while because I had to make lots of stops.
I had no trouble hiking down the Dark Hollow Falls trail.
Will I ever see Dark Hollow Falls again? I hope so, but I told Bob that this may be my last visit to the falls.
I took it very slow on the climb back up the trail, resting frequently. Thankfully I never experienced what I did at Bushkill Falls, while hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail. But, man was I exhausted from that hike. Toward the end I began to feel quite weak from low sugar, I think, as we had not had anything to eat since 6:00 am. I mentioned earlier that a trail description stated that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes. It took us about 2 hours to make the round trip…not bad considering all the stops I made.
Less than a mile south of the Dark Hollow Falls parking lot is Big Meadow. We ate a picnic lunch (Bumble Bee meat spread and crackers and pineapple) at Big Meadow. We also bought Blackberry ice cream (for me) and peanut butter pie (for Bob) for dessert. I believe the blackberry ice cream is available only on Skyline Drive. It is the only place I have had that ice cream flavor. When we planned our drive to Maggie Valley, via Skyline Drive, blackberry ice cream and a Shenandoah National Park t-shirt were on my list of must-haves. In addition to the ice cream, I purchased THREE t-shirts.
It was 2:10 pm, when we continued our trip south on Skyline Drive. It wasn’t long afterward that I began to feel motion sickness. Bob parked the car at an overlook. We reclined the front seats for “20 winks”. I think Bob needed a rest, as he fell asleep for a short long time. As for me, I wasn’t feeling any better. I ended up throwing up the ice cream and pineapple that I had for lunch. I felt better, after throwing up.
We exited Skyline Drive at 4:10 pm. We didn’t make any other photo op stops at any outlooks past Big Meadow.
About a mile from our hotel we stopped at a car wash in Waynesboro. The car needed a bath, as it was covered with pollen dust and a bird had crapped on the hood.
We checked into Best Western Waynesboro around 5:00 pm. Our room number was Room 414. It was a very nice room, a two queen bed suite. The sitting area, with its couch, two comfy chairs, one end table and a coffee table, was quite nice. The living and sleeping areas were separated by a half wall.
At 6:00 pm we drove to a nearby Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Bob ordered steak; I ordered chicken fingers, which Bob helped me eat. My stomach seemed to have settled; dinner didn’t upset it further.
After dinner we watched an episode of “Elementary” on Hulu.
We went to bed around 9:30 pm.