When I’m hit with an urge to get outdoors, you might find me cruising down Route 29 towards Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah is the most extensive wilderness space easily accessible to DC, and encircles almost 200,000 untouched acres of Northern Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
The places that I visit most often in the park are Old Rag Mountain, a challenging day hike with rock scrambling sections and breathtaking summit views, and Skyline Drive, a 105-mile undulating, ridge-hugging highway that’s best to drive in the spring or fall when tree colors are changing. I’m sure I’ll be returning to both spots soon, but on an early spring day I convinced a couple of friends to try a destination we’d never been to before.
We got a late start on the day (as we usually do), and overshot our intended noon departure time by almost an hour, sailing down Constitution Ave heading west out of the city. As anyone familiar with I-66 might expect though, we quickly found ourselves in traffic. How that road has backups on it seven days a week I’ll never understand, but it did eventually ease up and we decided that with the sun staying out well past 7:00, we’d still have time to complete the four hour hike as planned.