It was a particularly hot summer weekend in Charlottesville, with highs greater than 100 degrees F. We were on a getaway from Richmond and despite the heat, we somehow wanted to squeeze in a quick hike in Shenandoah National Park. During this time of year, the popular watering holes like White Oak Canyon, are packed, so we decided it was time to find a new trail.
In the heat and humidity, we had to be conservative with what we hoped to accomplish. Naturally, we chose the easiest hike in the park: Blackrock Summit, a quick 1 mile loop around the mountain and back. This was more of a walk than a hike. The elevation was minimal and the trail very well maintained. Despite the ease of the hike, the vistas were awesome. Climbing upon the rock bed at the top allowed a full 360 degree view of the park and surroundings. The formation of the rocks at the top were certainly unusual and even appeared out of place. With the help of some trail signs, we were able to learn that this was once the floor of the ancient Iapetus Ocean that predates the Appalachian Mountains. Over time, geological forces transformed the seabed into solid quartzite rocks. Overtime, this region too will become overgrown with vegetation and will look like the surrounding mountains.
We reached the top in the early morning and descended the mountain just as the sun reached it’s peak. We sought refuge in the canopy of the forest where it was at least 10 degrees cooler. We searched for mushrooms and marveled at the lush forest in the peak summer time. It had been too long since my last visit to Shenandoah National Park, this outing reminded that she always has something special to offer in every season.