Shenandoah: Rose River Loop Trail and Bear!

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Shenandoah. I’d been through here briefly a few months ago but did not get to stray from the road then. It is a nice park from the road, but as with most parks, the real park lies away from the roads. My wife are down in Virginia to pick up a new livestock guardian dog and we had most of the day to play today. We went for a drive in Shenandoah, stopping first at the Byrd visitor center for advice on where we could hike 3-4 moderate miles while seeing waterfalls. The ranger we spoke to sent us to her favorite hike in the area: the Rose River Loop Trail. It is a 4 mile circuit that loses and gains about 900 feet in elevation.

The Rose River trail starts near the Fishers Gap overlook at mile 49.5 of Skyline Drive. Crossing the street and bearing left you soon are walking down a relatively easy trail down into a valley. Eventually, a horse trail breaks off from this trail and the trail narrows a bit and starts shedding elevation just a bit quicker.

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Eventually, we found ourselves down at the Rose River where the trail turned left to follow the trail downstream. Great views of the water, especially when looking back at the falling cascades. We soon came to the Rose River falls and stopped to take pictures.

Here I discovered my tripod camera release had rusted solid from our trip the the Pacific coast a few weeks ago. As there was not much light and as I prefer to take waterfall shots with slightly longer exposure times I gave up on my good camera and switched to my small waterproof one. Normally, it takes pretty good pics, but I was not too thrilled today. Maybe should have taken more time along the way, but the focus today was on hiking with my awesome wife, something we don’t get to do all that often.

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After enjoying the falls for a while, we continued on down the trail, which eventually leaves the Rose River and follows the Hog Camp Branch for quite some time. The difference here is that the trail travels upstream, and “up” is a key word here, so there were constant cascades as we moved up the trail and recovered much of our lost elevation. The scenery in this stretch is absolutely stunning and these pics do it no justice.

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After about a mile of that, the trail reaches the fire road and the base of Dark Hollow Falls. We stopped to admire the falls, and decided we while great in their own right, we really enjoyed the cascades we just walked by even more. That stop over, the final leg of the trail was a steady, moderate, climb up to Skyline Drive along the fire road.

Our hike complete, we would our way through the park to the southern terminus of Skyline Drive. It is here that Shenandoah ends and the road turn into the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yet, before we reached this end of our Shenandoah adventure, we had one more big surprise in store for us. I had the urge to stop at one of the overlooks for some reason and when we did, Melanie noticed the people in front of us were not pointing their cameras toward the overlook, but rather across the road, There, not more that 60 feet away was a black bear sauntering along the hillside. A great treat!

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Having left the park, we needed to head through the small town of Crozet, where we stopped at a cool Mexican restaurant. A special treat for Melanie was that they really catered to vegetarians in a creative, thoughtful manner. She really enjoyed her lunch. If you are in Crozet, be sure to stop by La Cocina del Sol for some tasty food.

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