With the arrival of Fall colors, the past couple of weekends have been taken up with trips to see them! The color changes in Virginia usually start in the mountains and over a few weeks, progress to the Piedmont and then finally to the areas around the coast. Accordingly, on October 18th we headed out for a hike on Stony Man and Little Stony Man in Shenandoah National Park (SNP). Stony Man is the second-highest peak in the park, and from there we could get a good view to the west. It turned out to be a little early for peak colors, but it’s better to be too early than too late.
The next day we went to the Billy Goat Trail, along the Potomac Gorge starting from Great Falls Tavern in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. This was still a little ahead of the Fall foliage schedule predicted by the Virginia Department of Forestry, but two long trips to SNP on the same weekend seemed like a lot to bite off. (Mundane weekend chores can get in the way, and besides, the Billy Goat Trail is always lots of fun!)
The next Saturday it was off to Sugarloaf Mountain, a monadnock northwest of Rockville in Maryland. (“Monadnock” is one of those words, like “emulsion,” that just never seem to be on the tip of my tongue when I need it.) From the Westview parking area, following the Blue Trail all the way around the mountain, with a brief departure onto the Red Trail to the top, yields a pleasant 5-mile hike. It’s somewhat strenuous here and there and time consuming due to rocky trail surfaces, but you get two great overlooks for the price of one hike!
Sunday seemed like a good time to get back down off the mountains and check on the waterfront, so we took a trip to Leesylvania State Park. Starting from the park visitor center, roughly in the center of the park along the shoreline, it’s easy to do two 2.5-mile hikes with a break in the middle. The trains that pass every 30 minutes or so make for a great photo op!
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a few more trips to distant locations to check out the Fall colors, but in the meantime, there’s nothing like a visit to a local lake in Kingstowne.