Shenandoah National Park is located in the northern part of Virginia, southwest of Washington DC. The park covers an area of 124.3 square miles (322 sq km).
The Blue Ridge Mountains are the heart of Shenandoah National Park. The ridge of mountains and the park is long and narrow running up the western side of northern Virginia. The wide valley of the Shenandoah River.
Just under half of the park area has been recognized as a wilderness protected area. There are at least 10 waterfalls spread throughout the park. Overall Run Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park reaching a height of 93 feet (28 m).
The forested mountain range is an excellent habit for a number of wildlife species. Some of the more popular wildlife sightings include black bear, white-tailed deer, coyote, beaver, raccoon, skunk, opossum, woodchuck, and river otter.
There are over 200 species of birds found throughout the park creating a haven for bird watchers. One of the more intriguing species is the wild turkey.
The national park is a highlight because it provides such an amazing escape into pristine nature from nearby metropolises like Washington DC. It is a place that makes for easy day trips or weekend getaways while turning off the hustle of life in the cities.
Blue Ridge Mountains
The larger Blue Ridge Mountains range extends from Georgia in the south up to Pennsylvania in the north. The larger range covers a distance of 550 miles (885.1)
The Blue Ridge Mountains are renowned for their blue tint that blankets across the tops of the forested range.
Although not the tallest mountain in the state, Hawksbill is the tallest summit in the park reaching a peak of 4,051 feet (1,235 m).
Skyline Drive is a scenic road that travels 105 miles (169 km) through the heart of the national park. It runs the entire distance from the northern part of the park down to the southern exit of the park.
The scenic drive follows along the ridge of the mountains providing many different viewpoints out of the national park and surrounding area. It is recognized as a National Scenic Byway.
Trails of Shenandoah National Park
Just over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through the heart of the park. There are over 500 miles (800 km) of trails that provide excellent opportunities to commune with solidarity in nature.
Overall Run Trail: This is a moderate trail covering 6.5 miles (10 km) out to view Overall Run Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the park. May and early June are the best time because the dry summer can leave the falls barren.
Dark Hollow Falls Trail: This is a short but moderate 1.4-mile (2.25 km) trail that ascends through the forest up to view Dark Hollow Falls. Dark Hollow Falls is a rugged rocky cascading waterfall that is quite picturesque.
White Oak Canyon Trail: This is a more challenging trail however as you make your ascent you have an opportunity to see six different waterfalls. For those that don’t want to make the whole journey, the good news is that the tallest is the first encountered at a height of 86 feet (28 m). The trail is over a distance of 9 miles (14.5 km)
Cedar Run Trail: Cedar Run Falls measures a height of 34 feet (10 m). The falls are accessed through a difficult trail up 3.4 miles (5 km). The terrain is rocky and uphill.
Hawksbill Gapp Loop: This is a 2.6-mile (4.18 km) loop trail that features an elevation gain of 751 feet (228.9 m). It provides panoramic views of the Blue Ridge mountain range.
- Blue Ridge Mountains
- Skyline Drive
- All Trails, Best Trails in Shenandoah National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/virginia/shenandoah-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Britannica, Shenandoah National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Shenandoah-National-Park, retrieved June 2020.
- National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
- National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
- National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
- National Park Service, Shenandoah, https://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm, retrieved June 2020.
- Virginia, Shenandoah National Park, https://www.virginia.org/shenandoahnationalpark, retrieved June 2020.
- Visit The USA, Shenandoah National Park, https://www.visittheusa.com/destination/shenandoah-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Wikipedia, Hawksbill Mountain, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawksbill_Mountain, retrieved June 2020.