Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shenandoah National Park Day 1 - Lower Hawksbill, Bearfence Scramble, & Blackrock Summit Hikes

Shenandoah National Park Thornton Gap Entrance
Shenandoah National Park Day One - Monday 4/6/15
It's the kiddos spring break so we decided to head down to Shenandoah National Park for some hiking and exploring. The park is famous for it's Skyland drive which is a 105 mile road that goes right through the park. With great overlooks and hikes along the way, we were excited to visit the park. Our plan was to start from the bottom of the drive and stay in 3 different hotels/lodge and just explore each area along the way. Our plan didn't quite pan out as the weather forecast didn't look so great for the week of our visit so we made some modifications but it worked out totally fine in the end.

The first change we made was to enter the Park through the Thornton Gap Entrance which was closer to the middle of Skyland Drive. With the weather forecast showing Monday as the nicest day and the others with rain, our plan was to do the hikes with the views on our first day and those hikes were closer to the middle of Skyland drive. National Park fee is $15.00 for 7 days which is very reasonable. 

We left our place around 7am and got to Sperryville, VA around 11:15ish. We chose Sperryville because it was the town closest to the Thornton Gap entrance of the park and where we could grab a quick lunch. We found the Creekside Bakery and Deli where we got some sandwiches that turned out to be a yummy find. Definitely recommend the place as they had delicious sandwiches and we even bought some donuts as treats for the kiddos there.

The weather forecast did not disappoint. The sun was out and there were a few patchy clouds but not bad. We got great views. We stopped at some overlooks (Ate our sandwiches at one) on our way to Lower Hawskbill which would be our first hike. Here are some views from a couple of the overlooks. It's really nice to just stop our car and get cool views like this.
Shenandoah National Park Overlook view
Shenandoah National Park Overlook view
Hike #1 - Lower Hawksbill, Mile Marker 45.6
Our first hike was Lower Hawksbill. Hawksbill is the highest peak in the park. The hike is about 1.7 miles roundtrip. Before you reach the summit, there is a shelter labeled Byrd's nest No. 2, probably great for a rainy day.
Shenandoah National Park Hawksbill Mountain
The kiddos were great and we all were rewarded with great views. 
Shenandoah National Park Hawksbill Mountain
Hike #2 - Bearfence Scramble, Mile Marker 56.4
Hike number 2 was my 5 year old's favorite. This hike is different from any hike we've done with the kiddos because there was a lot of rock scrambling. Personally I enjoy scrambling as it is exciting and fun (I think my 5 year old gets it from me :)) Basically you are climbing up rocks and lifting yourself up at some parts. I do not recommend this hike for kids unless your kids like to climb rocks and are not afraid of heights. There were some parts where I was thinking maybe this isn't a good idea for the kiddos, but they seemed to really enjoy it. My 5 year old wanted to do it again right after, so I knew he really had fun. At one part of it he even said "I was born to do this". Lol, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Our 4 year old was fine as well, but Hubby helped him out a lot through the hike. He was totally fine as well and not phased by the difficulty. As a warning, I noticed that it may be difficult even for adults as there was a family ahead of us where there were teenagers who had no problem, however the parents were the ones having difficulties. 
Shenandoah National Park Bearfence Scramble
The hike is about 1.1 miles roundtrip as we also visited the view point.
Shenandoah National Park Bearfence Viewpoint
Hike #3 Blackrock Summit, Mile Marker 84.8
Our last hike of the day was the Blackrock Summit hike. We did the 1.6 mile loop that went through a boulder field. 
Shenandoah National Park Blackrock Summit
We got great views at the top and the kiddos loved climbing the rocks in the boulder field.
Shenandoah National Park Blackrock Summit
Shenandoah National Park Blackrock Summit View
It was a great first day for us at Shenandoah National Park. After this hike we headed to the Day's Inn, in Waynsboro where we stayed the night. We did a lot of driving on our first day but it was worth it with the views on the way. 

Look out for Day 2 - Dark Hollow Falls, Blackrock, and Miller's Head hikes coming to the blog soon!


  1. Wow - these pictures are so vivid and beautiful! Your boys are hardcore hikers! That is so wonderful for you all. You guys have got to have the best photo albums EVER! Thanks for sharing you awesome family adventures! Have a great week!!

  2. Wow, it is like the clouds and the sky just decided to be picture perfect for you. Amazing.

  3. Thanks Abby! Our first day was the best one weather-wise!

  4. Thanks Diane!! The kiddos are great and I love that they enjoy it! :)

  5. Wow, that's cool you got three hikes in on one day! Great pics!

  6. I actually saw this post the day you posted it, but I was at a computer that I couldn't use to comment on, so sorry for the delay!
    But I wanted to say, this is one place that I have on my list to visit, I love National Parks! I almost made it there a couple of years ago, but I caught a bad flu so I decided to skip the drive out to it, and save it for another time when I could enjoy it more.
    But I love these hikes, so fun!!!

  7. No problem Kristy! Hope you get to visit the park some time! I'm sure you would enjoy Shenandoah!