Monday, July 30, 2012

Sky Meadows State Park

One of the things I want to do this year, my tenth since surviving lymphoma, is to hike in some new places.  I did that nearly two months ago at Bear Church Rock.  Yesterday, I made it to another one: Sky Meadows State Park in Northwest Virginia.  It is a place that I have wanted to get to for a while, and when it was posted as a Meet-up, I signed on for this day hike.  150 years ago, great armies moved back and forth here to fight some of the bloodiest battles in American history nearby.  Their campfires would have lit up the night skies.  Today, everything here is peaceful and bucolic, the way it should be.

This hike covered about 8 miles, carefully plotted out by our hike leader, Marc.  He did a great job organizing things and getting us to the trail head just after 11AM.  We cobbled together a circuit hike with these trails: Gap Run; Snowden Interpretive; South Ridge; North Ridge; Appalachian; Old Appalachian; Appalachian again; Ambassador; Piedmont Overlook; and Gap Run.  This map shows where we went, starting and ending at the purple arrow, and moving clockwise for the most part.

Although this is not a super-strenuous hike, there was plenty of elevation gain and loss, and on the hot, humid day, my clothes would not have been more wet had I jumped in a stream (of which there were none).  We gained and lost nearly 1,800 feet.  Note - click on the wide photos to see the entire image.

One thing I've noticed after every hike in mountainous terrain this year is that my left knee pain returned.  This pain started in the winter as I trained for the Shamrock Half Marathon, and despite not running since March and doing a lot of PT work, it will not go away.  Part of me wonders if my marathon and half-marathon days are all in the past.  But you know, 10 years ago, I was getting some pretty nasty chemotherapy, so by comparison, a little knee pain here and there is not so bad.

Here are some pictures of this fun and very scenic hike, as we rambled through forests and open meadows, watching colorful butterflies flit about.

Sky Meadows has beautiful views across the many open areas, such as this panorama from South Ridge.

Here is our mighty Meet-up group of seven hikers this day.
Meadows and mountains...
A plantation and manor house used to be on this site.  It burned down in 1913.
Historic and scenic Harper's Ferry W.V. is just a two or three day hike north from here up the Appalachian Trail.
About 70% of our eight mile hike was in heavy mid-Atlantic forest.
This beautiful section of the Ambassador Trail was in a transition zone from the meadows to the forest.
Views across a meadow.
The Virginia Piedmont (from French for "feet of the mountains") from a Sky Meadows ridge.
Panorama looking towards the east.


  1. Looks like you had a beautiful day for the views. I hope it wasn't too hot.

  2. Art - thanks for posting! It definitely was a fantastic day for hiking. Don't forget about the condom wrapper we found on that gorgeous hillside at the end too :) .

  3. It was plenty hot enough, Hawkeye. But a beautiful hike all the same.

    Thanks for organizing the hike, Marc. Yeah, apparently hiking and nature study aren't the only things happening at this beautiful park.

  4. Looks like a great hike and the scenery is so beautiful. The weather looks perfect though we can't see the how hot it must have been!

  5. Hey Karen - thanks for the comment. I am glad that you enjoyed the photos. I much enjoyed hiking in a new and beautiful place. Art