Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Summit of Hawksbill Mountain

Sunday July 12, 2015                                                                                                       Previous Post:
Big Meadows Campground                                                                                               In Search of Sunset at the End of Rainy Days
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia





After two days of rain, even though it’s Sunday, a week-end day, we had to get out on the trails.  We knew they would all be busy so we just chose one nearby.  We’ll hike to the highest spot in the park, the summit of Hawksbill Mountain at 4050 feet.  Don’t any of you guys in the west even snicker.  These are the oldest mountains in the country remember.

We did a loop which included the section of the AT I had hiked only a few days ago with the talus slopes.  David hadn’t been there and this time we’d be hiking it from the other direction which is an entirely new trail right?

What is David doing hiking to the highest point in the park you ask?  Well first the trail up is fairly gentle for the elevation climb and he wants to see what the medications they have him on will allow him to do.  If he hikes more slowly than usual, he seems to be fine.  So far!


It’s a gorgeous view but there were way too many people.  I’d like to do it again early in the morning.  Perhaps just an up and out with a headlamp to see the sunrise there.  IF we ever get another clear day that is.   But hey, I’m not complaining, the temperatures are wonderful and in July that means everything.


This hike can be done two ways, the short steep one or the long less steep one.  You know which one we take.  We’ll be going up the yellow and coming down the red.  Those yellow squiggles at the top will look familiar to regular readers of this blog.

I sure would love to see the endangered Shenandoah Salamander which lives only here in Shenandoah National park.  But since he’s so endangered and there are so many people out hiking today and so many of them are careless and not sensitive, I’m not going to look for him lest I give them ideas.




We start off down the trail which leads to a cement marker.  The yellow trail on the map is the AT.  It’s blazed white though through its entire length.  The AT part I hiked only a few days ago on my way to Skyland.  BUT I was going the other way so it will look different to me and I hope to you. 

Because I hike more often and we are now very selective about which routes we take when David comes, I do trails more than once so that I can go with David.   Were it not for his heart problems, we might have taken the short way straight up to the summit.  Although once we see it coming down, probably not.  We like long hikes and this one  at about 3 miles is about the shortest we ever do without doing more than one hike in a day.

Starting out from the parking area.


Now it’s South on the AT.


Of course you have to climb up to get to a summit but this is a fairly gradual climb.


We’re coming to the zig zag area and there is the stay on the trial sign.


David’s turn to cross the Talus slopes.



The insects are all over the Allegheny Stonecrop today.  Love it’s pink flowers and stems




Today’s view is actually clearer than last Thursday when I went.  You can see that post here.



Just on the other slide of all the slopes we meet father and son backpackers.  The son is going north all the way to Maine and the father is doing a section hike going south.  They just happened to meet right here.   Looks like this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  How wonderful for the father that his son also enjoys the things he loves.



Yet another déjà vu.  Those of you who read Thursday’s post will remember this rock.


This is the picture I was trying to take of myself. I never managed it in time.  It’s lots easier to take it of David.


More talus slopes, more Appalachian Stonecrop in full bloom and attracting butterflies.




Wonder when this big boulder is going to topple off its somewhat precarious perch?


We part ways with the AT here.  Although I took one spur off of the AT on my Thursday hike, I didn’t have time to do this one which is 7/10ths of a mile to Hawksbill Summit.






Uphill and rocky but not too long.




We think we may have arrived but it’s just a midpoint view



Still a lovely scene.




I am just amazed that the wild columbine is STILL blooming.  We’ve seen it for the past 6 weeks. It’s one of our favorites.






One last look.  it will be interesting to see how different the view is from the summit.


The incline decreases and ultimately becomes pretty flat by the time we reach the next sign post.









The trail opens out to a view of “Byrd’s Nest #2” a day use cabin named for the infamous Harry Byrd of Virginia and West Virginia political fame.



There is no camping here so renting this shelter would be I guess for something like a group picnic.  I sure wouldn’t carry the normal group picnic coolers and mega-foods up to this shelter.  I wonder how often it is used and for what.  Anyone know or have ideas?






And now for the views of the first area.  Not the top top top but near it.


Some folks have staked out their claims.



Turkey vultures are considered raptors by many and they were riding the winds today.  Not so beautiful in a close up, they look wonderful in the skies over the tree tops.   I should say I “think” this is a turkey vulture by it’s soaring silhouette.



50 yards to the very top.



On a Sunday I’m not surprised to see lots of other folks here already.  We take our time especially on any up hills although I did power walk this last section for the cardio exercise and am here before David arrives.





The view from the Summit of Hawksbill  Mountain, the highest point in Shenandoah National Park at 4050 feet.  Those of you reading in Colorado do not say ONE WORD.







Here he comes with a smile on his face.




We trade pictures with another couple so we can both prove both members of each couple were here together.


This would be a wonderful place to come much earlier in the morning and have it all to yourself to sit and just wonder at all the magnificence.   That sense of wonder and gratitude is what I love about being in the natural world especially if it is also silent.




On the way back down we run into my sorority girl friend the wild bergamot.  Mother Nature, natural selection, evolution what amazing diversity, beauty and design.   I is just amazing.  What a creation we live in.






The trail down is shorter and more steep than our round about way up.




We step off the trial at this interesting rock outcropping to let a group that are hoofing it up pass by.  You might be able to see them just out of sight in the upper right of this picture.  Don’t think they’ll be going that speed for very long.



This is the more gradual trial they have just come up near the parking lot.



Back at the car, we both agree, that we probably would not have been out here on a Sunday had it not been for the rain out of the past two days.  We really needed to get the blood pumping again.  Hope there are some more dry days in our future.  I love the lush green results of the rains but I think California and other parts west need this much more than we do.


  1. How did I get here first??! Lovely hike I am so jealous! Haven't hiked much in two weeks and the scale confirmed this morning I gained back the two pounds I lost. Ggrrr! Too hot here for anything resembling exertion these days but what can you do?

  2. Breathtaking views... so worth the hike!

  3. Beautiful hike, and the views of all that green are gorgeous. Yes, we could so use the rain, but not the lightning strikes that go with it. I must say that I love your new hairdo, been meaning to say that ever since the wedding. It looks really nice and perfect for a hiker like you, Sherry.

  4. Love salamanders! The views from the top are wonderful but I got the "whoopsies" looking at you near the edge!!!


  5. I love your pictures and hikes in the Smoky Mountains. I can't wait to see them. We left Acadia today, will spend a couple of days in Boston before heading south. So glad to see all that the area has to offer.

  6. Another great hike. I remember the summit as being incredibly windy the day we hiked the trail. Had the place to ourselves; it was in the spring ... but we had to scarf down our sandwiches instead of having a leisurely breakfast because the wind chill was so darn cold.

  7. Sometimes we just have to deal with those weekend crowds! Being retired sure has its perks, the best one being the ability to avoid weekend crowds whenever possible!

  8. Nice hike to great views - those rolling mountains are so pretty every time. Love the flowers - it's great that they are still in bloom at this point in summer. I'm glad Dad was able to join you on the hike - I love that smile as he arrives at the summit. I agree that was a lot of people for a Sunday morning and it would no doubt have been nicer with fewer there. Nonetheless, a pretty hike on a non-rainy day :)

  9. Plenty high elevation for this flat-lander (we're at 20 ft today), and the views are very tall! Love the flowers, so pretty and delicate amongst all that green. David's smile could light up the grayest day, just love seeing the two of you out on the trails. I can't imagine what you would rent that building for, it looks like a great spot to get out of the weather while hiking, but for a whole day I can't figure out a use. Looks like someone built a fire along the short wall?

  10. what a wonderful place and David truely looked happy to make it all the way.

  11. It's always an accomplishment to summit a mountain no matter what the elevation. When we lived in Florida 4,000' was impressive. In fact we used to camp a lot at the highest point in northern Alabama (Cheaha State Park) and felt like we were really in the mountains at 2,300'. It's all relative.

  12. I don't know which I liked better, the lovely nature pictures or David's smile. I admire his pushing on regardless of his health challenges. He's quite an inspirational guy, but you already knew that. :c)

  13. So right that trails look entirely different going the opposite way and sometimes a slower pace means seeing even more along the way. It's really not about how high the elevation, but that it's the top. And you both made it. Love David's smile!

  14. So happy to see David out on the trails, and love the photo of you two together at the top! I always enjoy hiking trails more than once -- I get to see things that I might have missed the first time around.

  15. Nice shot of the junco. I'm always surprised to see them at higher elevations in the summer. They were winter visitors to my feeders when I lived in NY. They sometimes migrate up and down rather than north and south.

  16. I think you definitely need to go back and sit in that beauty and enjoy some quiet contemplation... What a lovely place!

  17. I smile when I see your hikes and your weather... it is just like Maine:o)) Just so happy to see David enjoying the hike with you!!! Hope your rain and our rain takes a vacation for a bit.

  18. Lots of people on a Sunday. Sorry the rain is causing your hikes to be with the masses :) Bet David is enjoying getting to hike uphill for awhile.

  19. Nice hike. Great pictures. We're finally home from the West.

  20. Remember you're climbing as many feet as those folks in Colorado!! You are just starting at a much lower elevation. I think we tend to forget this sometime. You made an impressive east coast climb:) How nice that David made it to the summit as well! Too bad it was Sunday, but really any day on the trail is a good day:)


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