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Hazeltop Ridge Overlook to Hensley Hollow Overlook

  

MILE 54.4, HAZELTOP RIDGE OVERLOOK. Elevation 3,265 feet. The two sketches identify most of what you can see from here. On a clear day you can look to the left of Hanse Mountain and straight up Beldore Hollow to distant peaks in the South District of the park. The distant rounded summit at the extreme left, with clearings, is Flattop.
 

View from Hazeltop Ridge Overlook. (No. 1.)



View from Hazeltop Ridge Overlook. (No. 2.)

 

POWELL MOUNTAIN TRAIL. Hike to Big Creek Falls along Big Creek, 2 miles. Take Powell Mountain Trail to the left (south) from Hazeltop Ridge Overlook. At about 1.5 miles listen for the sound of water running downwards to your left, then leave the trail and continue downhill to Big Creek. Cross the creek and hike across the terrain to the falls (again listen for the sound of water to locate the falls). There are some smaller falls and cascades also but this one is the main falls). There is no trail to the falls; this is a cross-country hike through the woods. NOTE: the East Branch of Naked Creek runs on the north side of Powell Mountain and Big Creek to the south. The trail descends to Jollett Road in Elkton.

 


The Largest Waterfall On Big Creek
Photo by Larry W. Brown
 

 MILE 55.1, BOOTENS GAP. Elevation 3,235 feet. Fire road, east side. AT access, hikes, history, geology.

Turn onto the fire road if you want to stop here. There's a parking area on the left, about 25 yards from the Drive. The AT crosses the fire road a few feet beyond the parking area. Distances on the AT: north (to the left) it's 2.9 miles to the Drive crossing in Milam Gap, mile 52.8; south (to the right) it's 2.4 miles to the Slaughter fire road, near mile 56.8 on the Drive.

Although Rapidan Camp is easier to reach from Milam Gap, mile 52.8, a hike from here would not be difficult. The round-trip distance is 6.7 miles. Go left on the AT for a little less than half a mile; turn right onto the Laurel Prong Trail and go one mile to a low point on the ridge, in Laurel Gap. Turn left and go 1.9 miles to Rapidan Camp. (See notes on Rapidan Camp.) Also at Laurel Gap, there is a junction with Cat Knob Trail which is only 0.5 mile but is steep; follow it to Jones Mountain Trail. Follow this trail for 2.8 miles, mostly along a ridge, and look for an opening that provides access to Bear Church Rock.


View From Bear Church Rock (an exposed outcrop on Jones Mountain)
Photo taken by Darren Barnes

The fire road descends a little more than a mile to the park boundary, where it enters a Virginia Wildlife Area. There's a large wild area there, along the Conway River and its tributaries, which deserves exploring if you have the proper equipment and experience.


Jones Mountain Cabin
Photo taken by Ryan Wick
History: The Fairfax Line, which marked the southwest boundary of the huge land grant owned by Lord Fairfax, was surveyed from the source of the Conway River, about a quarter of a mile from here, and crossed the ridge near Bootens Gap. From here, the surveyors laid out a line across the Page Valley and the Massanutten, the Shenandoah Valley beyond the Massanutten, and then a few ranges of the Alleghenies, to the estimated location of the source of the Potomac River. They reached the Potomac at a point several miles downstream, surveyed their way upstream to the source, calculated the direction of the true boundary, then surveyed their way back to Bootens Gap, marking the Fairfax Line with stone markers as they went.

On reaching Bootens Gap, the surveyors found that they had missed their starting point by only a hundred yards. This is a remarkable performance. The line was 76.5 miles long; the country was a lot rougher then than now, and surveying instruments were less sophisticated. The surveying party started from Bootens Gap on September 10, 1746, and returned on February 24, 1747. Its leaders were Thomas Lewis (whose journal is the principal source of information on this subject), and Peter Jefferson (father of Thomas Jefferson, who was then three years old.)

Geology: Walk a tenth of a mile north on the Drive, to the rock cut opposite milepost 55. The basalt rock face shows thick lenses of pale green epidote, and thin veins of epidote and quartz, making a photogenic display of muted colors.
 

View from The Point Overlook

 

MILE 55.6, THE POINT OVERLOOK. Elevation 3,235 feet. The sketch shows the left part of the view. To the left of Hanse Mountain (at the left edge of the sketch) you can see, on a very clear day, distant peaks in the South District of the park. Devils Tanyard, at the right on the sketch, is a little to right of center of the overall view. Farther right, with houses on it, is the upper end of Long Ridge. The high point at the extreme right is Hazeltop.

The clump of trees below the overlook hides the middle of the view. To see it all, walk a hundred yards to a viewpoint. From an opening in the wall, stone steps descend to a narrow trail, which may be somewhat overgrown in late summer. The trail swings left and goes around the grove of trees to a viewpoint ledge. The view here is more exciting than that from the overlook because of the sheer drop from the ledge, and because the Drive and cars are out of sight.

Geology: The rocks exposed in the road cut across from the overlook are Catoctin basalt with layers of volcanic tuff. The tuff, which is compressed volcanic ash, is best seen opposite the south end of the overlook where it is separating into thin shale-like flakes and falling down the bank. Many of the flakes are soft enough to crumble between your fingers, while the basalt is considerably harder.

MILE 56.4, BEARFENCE MOUNTAIN PARKING, west side. Hikes, AT access. In summer, conducted hikes to Bearfence summit begin here at the parking area. For day and time see the Activities Schedule, in Overlook, the free park visitor handout available at the entrance stations and visitor centers.

Bearfence Mountain, elevation 3,620 feet, reportedly got its name from the palisade-like rocks, resembling a fence that surrounds its summit. From the summit you have a 360-degree view; this is one of the few places in the whole park from which you can see all around you. The hike to the summit is fairly easy in that it's short, with less than 300 feet of climbing. It's difficult in that part of it is pure rock scramble for which you'll use both hands and perhaps from time to time the seat of your pants. But the climb is not dangerous if you observe a few simple precautions.

PRECAUTIONS: Don't take dogs, or small children to Bearfence Summit. Wear hiking boots with non-skid soles. Don't try this climb when the rocks are wet, or covered with ice or snow. Be prepared for sudden strong gusts of wind that might make you lose your balance. Look carefully before reaching for handholds on the rocks; as in any very rocky place on the mountain, rattlesnakes sometimes occur.

The trail begins across the Drive from the parking area, and goes uphill from the edge of the grassy bank. Two hikes are recommended: to the summit and back, Hike HC-41; and a circuit that continues beyond the summit and returns by the AT, Hike HC-42.

 

HIKE HC-41: Bearfence Summit. Round trip 0.8 mile; total climb about 275 feet; time required 1:05. See Map MC-10. Take the trail that goes uphill, across the Drive from the parking area. About 60 yards from the Drive, note a low, flat boulder on each side of the trail. Both are sandstone of the Swift Run formation. Bearfence Mountain is surrounded by Swift Run sandstone, though its summit is capped with Catoctin basalt.

About 200 yards from the Drive, the trail crosses the AT. Distances on the AT: North (to the left) it's 1.3 miles to Bootens Gap, Mile 55.1. South (to the right) it's 1.0 mile to the Slaughter fire road near the Drive at Mile 56.8.

Continue straight ahead on the blue-blazed Bearfence Trail. It goes partly along the ridge crest and, in places, drops down on the left side to go around several false summits. Don't settle for any of these, thinking you've reached the top. When you get to the actual summit you'll have a clean, unobstructed 360- degree view. The two sketches below identify its principal features.

Geology: About halfway between the AT and the summit, you will cross the contact between the Swift Run and Catoctin formations. On the blue-blazed trail, they are separated by a very thin layer of quartz pebbles. The rocks, especially the basalt near the summit, are weathered and lichen-covered, which makes them hard to identify. But at several places you can see where the advancing lava picked up pebbles, sand, and mud. Elsewhere you can see veins of quartz and epidote in the basalt.

Return by the same route or, if you wish, continue on the circuit hike described below. This is longer, but requires less rock scrambling than going back the way you came.


View from Bearfence Mountain (No. 1)



View from Bearfence Mountain (No. 2)
 

HIKE HC-42: Bearfence Summit. Circuit 1.2 miles; total climb about 380 feet; time required 1:45, about 35 minutes longer than the round trip. See Map MC-10.

As above, to Bearfence summit. Continue in the same direction, descending, following the blue blazes. The rock scramble is a bit difficult, but it's short. A hundred yards from the summit, a short side trail on the right goes 55 yards to the AT. Do not take this turn, but keep straight ahead, climbing a low knob, and 110 yards from the junction reach a side trail on the right with a marker post that goes 20 feet to a ledge with a view.

Return to the trail and turn right; cross the summit of the small knob, and descend to the AT. Turn left onto the white-blazed AT for a 90-yard walk to another ledge, on the left. The view from here is overgrown in the summer, but without leaves on the trees you can see the low, rounded, nearby summit toward the left is Cliff Mountain. Beyond it, much higher and sharper, is Bluff Mountain. From the ledge you look straight down to the mouth of Devils Ditch, which joins the Conway River at the foot of the hollow. The high point beyond the hollow is Buzzard Rocks.

Geology: The ledge you're standing on is sandstone of the Swift Run formation. All the rocks you'll see on your way back are of the same material, except for a few basalt boulders that have rolled down from the summit,

Return to the AT and go right (north on the AT), back toward the way you came. Pass the south end of the Bearfence Loop Trail that join from the right. Continue to where the other end of the Bearfence Loop Trail loop crosses the AT. Turn left on the blue-blazed trail to return to the parking area.

 
Map MC-10 - Bearfence Mountain Area

Click here for a printable map

MILE 56.4 to 56.8. Wildflower note: mountain laurels are scattered along the bank on the east side of the Drive, bloom in June.

MILE 56.8, PARKING. AT access; Bearfence AT Hut; explorer hikes. On the west side of the Drive the Meadows School Trail descends for 1.4 miles to the park boundary. The Meadows School and two homes were beside the road, just inside the boundary.


Bearfence AT Hut
Photo taken by Matt House
On the east side, the Slaughter fire road crosses the AT about a hundred yards from the Drive, near a small parking area. Distances on the AT: north (to the left) it's 2.4 miles to Bootens Gap, mile 55.1; south (to the right) it's 1.0 mile to Lewis Mountain Campground. Beyond the AT the fire road forks. The right branch goes to the Bearfence AT Hut. The left branch becomes a trail; it descends to the park boundary at the Conway River, 3.3 miles from the Drive. If you turn left there you'll enter a Virginia Wildlife Area, and then continue upstream beside the river, near the boundary between the Wildlife Area and the park. This is wild and beautiful country, and exploration by experienced hikers is recommended.

MILE 57.25. Wildflower note: Trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, grows on the rocks here, on the west side of the Drive. It's fairly common along the Drive, but this is one of the easiest places to see it from a moving car. It starts blooming in the second half of May, and the flowers look like strings of bright red firecrackers.

MILE 57.5, LEWIS MOUNTAIN FACILITIES. Elevation at entrance, 3,390 feet. Picnic ground, cabins, campstore, telephone, campground, showers, AT access. Open about mid-April through October. (The Lewis Mountain development was opened in 1940 "for negroes." Segregation ended in 1950.) Visit the exhibit at the Byrd Visitor Center to learn more.

After you turn in on the entrance road, the second side road on your left is the beginning of a one-way loop around the picnic ground. Beyond the entrance to the picnic ground you come to the campstore (with telephone) on the right, and a row of furnished cottages on the left. Each cottage has a bathroom, lights, heat, towels, linen, and a covered cooking area with a fireplace, grill, and picnic table. To reserve a cottage contact the park concessionaire, Delaware North, Telephone 1-877-847-1919.

Beyond the campstore begin the one-way clockwise loop around the campground. The AT passes around the picnic ground and the campground, and can be reached from several places. For example, as you enter the campground, keeping to the far left, there's a short access trail on your left, opposite the first campsite. Celandine, Chelidonium majus, blooms along the access trail in May and June. It's yellow, with four petals.

MILE 57.5 to 60.2. Wildflower note. Two flowers that might attract your attention are scattered along the Drive in this area. Both bloom in May. Star-of-Bethlehem, Ornithogalum urnbellatum, is a small white lily with grass-like leaves. Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana, has rather large, dark blue-violet three-petaled flowers, and slender blade-like leaves about a foot long.

MILE 58.6 to 58.8. This is, unofficially, the "Green Tunnel." Branches meet above the road to form a green tunnel in summer, and sometimes a shimmering ice tunnel in winter.

MILE 59.1, THE OAKS OVERLOOK. Elevation 3,125 feet. You can look above the treetops and across the Page Valley to the Massanutten. The town a little to left of center, between the overlook and the south end of the Massanutten, is Elkton.


Pocosin Cabin
Photo taken by Larry W. Brown

MILE 59.5, POCOSIN FIRE ROAD, east side. Elevation 3,125 feet. AT access, hikes, Pocosin Cabin. There's a small parking area at the left of the fire road, 60 yards from the Drive. The AT crosses the road about 0.1 mile from the Drive. Distances on the AT: north (to the left) it's 1.8 miles to Lewis Mountain Campground; south (to the right) it's 3.4 miles to the South River Falls Trail near South River Picnic Ground.

Two hikes that start here are recommended: a round trip to the ruins of Upper Pocosin Mission, Hike HC-43 and a rather long circuit hike that includes the mission ruins and South River Falls, Hike HC-44.

Conjecture: Pocosin is of Indian origin, possibly from the Algonquin pakwesen meaning damp or wet land.

Less than 0.1 mile beyond the AT crossing, a broad trail leaves the fire road on the right and goes 200 feet to the locked Pocosin Cabin. If you'd like to rent the cabin for your own use, contact PATC.

 
HIKE HC-43: Upper Pocosin Mission. Round trip 1.9 miles; total climb about 425 feet; time required 1:55. An easy hike, via fire road, to the site of a former church and mountain settlement. See Map MC-11. You're at the right-hand edge, above center. Your route is N-M-L-M-N.


The Mission Church Steps
Photo taken by Amy P. Moyers
Follow the fire road, past the chain and the AT crossing, and past the side trail to the cabin. About a mile from the parking area the road levels out and swings left. Look for a concrete marker post on the right, near the start of the yellow-blazed Pocosin Trail. As you turn onto the trail, the first ruin of a house is about 100 feet diagonally left. It was part of the Episcopal Mission here. Explore if you wish, remembering that snakes like to take cover in such areas. Please do not disturb any mission ruins. Artifacts are protected by law.

Twenty yards from the house ruins are the steps of a church. The church is gone, and its foundation is covered with vegetation. Portions of the rock walls of a small side room are still standing.

Twenty-five yards beyond the church steps are the ruins of a wooden structure, now long gone, under a large chestnut oak. The vines on the upper limbs of the oak are loaded with grapes in autumn - but way up out of reach. On the other side of the Pocosin trail, which once was a road, is an abandoned cemetery with fieldstone markers, and the site of at least two houses.

 

HIKE HC-44: Pocosin Mission and South River Falls. Circuit 8.5 miles; total climb about 1,830 feet; time required 7:30. A long and tiring hike which includes ruins, and the falls. See Map MC-11. Your route is N-M-L-K-J-D-C-B-F-M-N.


Grave Marker
Photo taken by Larry W. Brown
As above to Pocosin Mission, and continue on the abandoned road, which is now the yellow-blazed Pocosin Trail. Descend and cross two small streams, then climb easily uphill for a while. About 1.2 miles from the mission, the trail flattens out in an overgrown grassy area that used to be an orchard. Go about 200 yards to the South River fire road, with an old stone wall on your left for a part of this distance. Turn right on the fire road, which runs along the park boundary marked by red blazes. After 250 yards the boundary turns 90 degrees to the right, and you enter a Virginia Wildlife Area. You re-enter the park where a chain blocks the road. Less than half a mile beyond the chain, a less-used road comes in at a sharp angle from the left. Turn left onto this road, and less than half a mile from the junction, there is a marker post where a trail comes in from the right. (Ahead, it's three-quarters of a mile to the bottom of South River Falls.) Turn right and go about 250 yards to a viewpoint, on your left, with a fine view of South River Falls.

The falls has a total drop of 83 feet. Halfway down, the stream divides, so that the falls has the form of an inverted "Y. From the observation point return to the trail and turn left, passing along the edge of a steep gorge, to the head of the falls. Keep going; there's no view from the top of the falls. Continue uphill, with a couple of switchbacks, to the white-blazed AT crossing 1.2 miles from the falls observation point. (Ahead, uphill, it's a tenth of a mile to the South River Picnic Ground, which has water and toilets.)

Turn right on the AT. Cross the South River fire road after half a mile, and continue another 2.9 miles to the Pocosin fire road. Turn left and go less than 0.1 mile to your starting point.

 

MILE 61.3, BALDFACE MOUNTAIN OVERLOOK. Elevation 3,345 feet. The view here is especially attractive because of the rocky ledge beyond the wall. The sketch names some of the things you can see.
 

View from Baldface Mountain Overlook

 


Baldface Mtn Overlook
Photo by Larry W. Brown
Trivia: Heatwole couldn't find "Baldface Mountain" on any map. The nearby summit to your left is nameless on the maps. In the 1930s there was a CCC camp half a mile south of here; its mail was addressed to "Baldface, Va.," but was delivered through the Elkton Post Office.

MILE 61.8, SERVICE ROAD, west side; abandoned road, east side. AT access. See Map MC-11; you're a little left of upper center. There's parking space in the grass on the east side, just north of the abandoned road.

The service road on the west side was once used by the park's maintenance division for earth storage. It goes about a thousand feet, then ends. The area is fairly level, and relatively open.

Along the east side of the Drive here, on both sides of the abandoned road, there was a CCC camp during the 1930s. The abandoned road goes an eighth of a mile to the AT, then continues for 75 yards to a sort of amphitheater in front of the quarry face. There is little evidence of the CCC occupation, except a few bricks, a few lumps of coal, a little scrap metal, and some piles of decaying chestnut boards near the quarry.

MILE 62.7, SOUTH RIVER OVERLOOK, elevation 2,950 feet. The overlook has a V-shaped view down the valley of South River and out to the Piedmont. The high point diagonally right is Saddleback. A few feet north of the overlook, a fire road leaves the Drive on each side.


Dry Run Falls
Photo taken by Larry W. Brown
On the west, the Dry Run fire road goes about 2.0 miles to the park boundary. The Dry Run falls are off the road, but worth a trip by experienced explorers. About 1.8 miles from the Drive, the fire road makes a sharp turn to the right. After you complete the turn the falls will be diagonally ahead and left, straight downhill, about an eighth of a mile away. If there's a good flow of water, you should be able to hear the falls from the road. For experienced hikers only.

On the east, the South River fire road (point "G" on Map MC-11) crosses the AT about a quarter of a mile from the Drive (at point "F".) The road is an alternate route to the South River falls; it is recommended that you start from the picnic ground, a tenth of a mile to the south.

MILE 62.8, SOUTH RIVER PICNIC GROUND. AT access; hikes to South River Falls and South River Trail Maintenance Building. The head of the South River Falls Trail is on your right as you drive into the third parking area. It crosses the AT about 150 yards from the road. Distances on the AT: north (to the left) it's 3.4 miles to the Pocosin fire road near Mile 59.5 on the Drive; south (to the right) it's 3.0 miles to the Drive crossing in Swift Run Gap, Mile 65.5.  

 

 

Map MC-11 - Pocosin - South River Area

Click here for a printable map

South River Falls is at the head of a deep and precipitous rocky gorge. It's the third-highest falls in the park, with a drop of 83 feet in two stages: first, a single stream falls to a pool about halfway down the cliff, where it divides and falls the rest of the way in two separate streams. The falls are best seen from an observation point a little way downstream, on the left bank of the gorge. Three different hikes to the falls are suggested, listed here in order of increasing difficulty. See Map MC-11.

  1. Falls observation point and return, route: A-B-C-B-A, Hike HC-45
  2. Falls observation point, return by fire road and AT , route: A-B-C-D-J- F-B-A, Hike HC-46.
  3. Base of the falls and return by fire road, route: A-B-C-D-E-D-J-F-B-A, Hike HC-47.
 

HIKE HC-45: South River Falls. Round trip 2.6 miles, total climb about 850 feet; time required 2:25. A moderately easy hike; the return trip is a steady climb. See Map MC-11.


South River Falls
Photo taken by Larry W. Brown

Follow the trail past the drinking fountain and continue downhill, crossing the white-blazed AT in less than 0.1 mile. Continue downhill on a long straight stretch. Many years ago this area was cleared, with stonewalls dividing it. You can still glimpse the remains of these walls, now completely covered by undergrowth, here and there on to the left of the trail. (Wildflower note: the flowering spurge, Euphorbia corolata, used to be common along this trail; its small white flowers bloom in mid-summer. It is gradually being shaded out. Instead look for Oxalis europea, yellow wood sorrel, a more shade tolerant plant. The trail swings left, descends by switchbacks, and then straightens out again as the stream joins it on the right.

Cross a tributary stream, often invisible under the rocks, but clearly audible. About a third of a mile from here, when the trail crosses another stream, look ahead and you can see what appears to be sky at the base of the trees - a clear indication that the bottom of the hollow drops away suddenly, and the stream plunges over a waterfall. After another hundred yards you'll come to a path on the right. Do not take it, save your energy and play it safe. The path descends very steeply to the head of the falls, from which there is no view of the falls at all. What you can do is slip on the wet rocks and suffer a serious and possibly fatal fall. Instead, continue another 0.1 mile to an observation point about 30 feet to the right - a ledge on which the park has built a guard wall. From there you have a fine view of the falls and, across the gorge, of the northeast ridge of Saddleback Mountain. Return to the South River picnic ground by the way you came.

 

HIKE HC-46: South River Falls via, fire road, and AT. Circuit 3.3 miles; total climb about 910 feet; time required 3:05. Almost as easy as the round-trip hike, above. See Map MC-11.

As above, to the falls observation point. Return to the trail and turn right. Pass between cliffs that rise on your left and fall away (but not alarmingly) on your right. (Wildflower note: you'll pass through a long patch of small-flowered leafcup, Polymnia canadensis - a composite that grows from 6 to 10 feet tall, with large, weirdly-cut leaves, and yellow flowers that bloom in late summer.

About 250 yards beyond the observation point the trail dead-ends at a concrete marker post (point "D" on Map MC-11), at a trail that follows an old road trace. The base of the falls (Hike HC-47) is a half mile to your right. Turn left. About 0.4 mile from point "D" the trail joins the South River fire road, which comes in on the right (at point "J"). Continue uphill another 0.8 mile to the AT crossing. Turn left on the white-blazed AT; go half a mile to the blue-blazed South River Falls Trail and turn right, uphill, to the picnic ground.

 

HIKE HC-47: Base of South River Falls, returning by fire road and AT Semi-circuit 4.7 miles; total climb about 1,315 feet; time required 5:00. This is a medium-difficult hike. The last 275 yards of the trail, as you approach the base of the falls, are rocky and steep. See Map MC-11. 

As above, past the falls observation point to the trail junction at point "D" on the map and turn right. This trail was once a mountain road that went out to the Piedmont. It curves gradually around to the left, into a cove formed by a small tributary of South River, then makes a sharp switchback to the right. (At this point you're outside the park, but will return shortly.)

The road trace continues to curve right at the mouth of the cove, and suddenly widens as it reaches the bank of the stream. This was a turnaround when the road trace was used as a park fire road. The old mountain road crossed the stream here, turned left, and continued downstream on the right bank. From here on, the trail climbs on a narrow, somewhat graded, sometimes steep trail over the rocks in the bottom of the gorge. It's 275 yards, with a climb of 105 feet, to the gravelly "beach" at the base of the falls. The trail passes directly under the falls observation point, which is 115 feet above the stream.

Go back the way you came, as far as the junction at point "D" on the map. Continue straight ahead. After 0.4 mile, the South River fire road comes in from the right. Continue another 0.8 mile to the AT crossing and turn left. Go 0.5 mile to the falls trail, turn right, and return to your starting point.

 

HIKE HC-48: South River Maintenance Building. Round trip 1.7 miles; total climb about 225 feet; time required 1:30. An easy, pleasant walk on the AT and a service road. See Map MC-11. Your route is A-B-H-I and return.

Start down the South River Falls Trail which begins at the third parking area on the loop around the South River picnic ground, mile 62.8. Reach the white-blazed AT in less than 0.1 mile, and turn right. A third of a mile from the junction the AT joins the service road, which comes in on the right. Skyline Drive, at mile 63.1, is less than 200 yards to the right. Bear left and continue ahead on the combined service road/AT, which gets progressively more weed choked. After 300 yards the road swings left while the white-blazed AT goes ahead. Stay on the road, and follow it another quarter of a mile to its end at the PATC maintenance building. Beyond the trail maintenance building is the beginning of the blue-blazed Saddleback Mountain Trail, which goes about 1.1 miles around the summit of Saddleback Mountain and joins the AT about 0.9 mile to the left of point "H" on the map.

The immediate area of the maintenance building may deserve exploration. There was a homesite here. Several years ago you could find a few apple trees, and rose and lilac bushes. Now that the area is more overgrown, but it is obvious that this was once open land and signs of its former cultivation are still there if you look closely.

 

MILE 63.1, SERVICE ROAD, east side. This is the service road for South River maintenance building. Because there's no safe parking here, to reach either the AT or the South River Trail maintenance building, start at the South River Picnic Ground. (See the hike to the South River Trail maintenance building, Hike HC-48.)

MILE 64.4, HENSLEY HOLLOW OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,560 feet. The sketch names the principal features of the view. The cleared strip that goes over Lick Ridge is not a road, but a power line. The town of Elkton is shown on the sketch. The town of Shenandoah is on the far side of the Valley, and just to the left of Huckleberry Mountain. The relatively nearby ridge this side of Grindstone Mountain has no name on the maps.

View from Hensley Hollow Overlook

 


Early Spring At Hensley Hollow Overlook
Photo taken by Larry W. Brown

History: The town of Elkton, at the junction of routes 33 and 340, began on the bank of the Shenandoah River at the mouth of Elk Run. It was named for Elk Run in 1881. Before that it was called Conrad's Store.

Geology: The rock exposed in the road cut across the Drive is of the Swift Run formation. It's mostly phyllite -: a slaty rock with lustrous surface in a fresh break, due to thin scales of mica. This is hard to see on the weathered, lichen-covered rock. But it's easily seen where the rock is disintegrating, and you can pick up a freshly broken piece from the bottom of the rock face.

MILE 64.5, Wildflower note: The feathery flowers that grow on the bank on the east side of the Drive, blooming in late May and early June, are Allegheny goatsbeard, Aruncus dioicus, a member of the rose family.

MILE 64.9, PARKING PULLOUT, west side. This parking area is not an overlook but the site of the former Swift Run entrance station. There's a view of sorts from the north end. To the left you can see some of the ridges in the South District of the park. Hanse Mountain, a little to the left of center, is mostly hidden by the trees. The town of Elkton is a little to the right of center.

Wildflower note: There are dogwood trees on both sides of the Drive in this area. They bloom in early May. In some years they put on a spectacular show; in others the bloom is skimpy. It all depends on the weather.

   
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