Here is a photo of Sky Meadows with a blanket of snow; who knows if we will get snow for our hike?
We will hike at Sky Meadows State Park, and then, for those of us who want, we will head to lunch at about 2:00 PM to the Main Street Mill Restaurant in Front Royal.
Children and guests are welcome. Pets are welcome but they must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times; please note that not all pets can safely navigate on ice and crevices, so, for your pet's well-being, ensure that it can do so.
The Main Street Mill Restaurant and Tavern is located at:
500 East Main Street in Front Royal, Virginia 22630
PLEASE BRING CASH FOR THE RESTAURANT.
The restaurant has a Facebook page:
The Main Street Mill Restaurant
This will be a winter hike. Please read the entire activity write-up, and read the documents located by way of the links within the narrative.
One of the year-round residents at Sky Meadows
We will meet at 10 AM in front of Mount Bleak House and begin our hike at that time. It is requested that attendees post a profile photo so that we know who you are and we can look for you at the event. This event is appropriate for all ages and members may bring guests.
There is a $4 charge per vehicle for the park entrance fee. After the hike, we will head to Front Royal for lunch. More details will be made available on our lunch plans, but bring cash for it if you decide to join us for lunch.
This will be an up-and-back loop hike. The plan is to go on the Piedmont Overlook Trail, the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the North Ridge Trail, which would comprise a 5.7 miles hike; if the ground is extremely challenging and the conditions warrant it, we will reduce that mileage. Remember that winter hiking demands twice the energy as fair weather hiking; that is, one mile in the snow equals at least two miles on dry terrain. Obviously, we will not know the trail conditions until it is close to the hike date, so we will decide then what our entire hike will consist of.
As noted earlier, children are welcome, but must be kept under supervision at all times. Pets are also welcome on the hike, but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Please be advised that you may be walking on ice and on an incline, and if your pet is not used to this type of wilderness, it will create a deadly hazard to you and your pet.
Naturalists love this park for its bird watching. Sky Meadows has the highest breeding population of red-headed woodpeckers in the entire state of Virginia, and they are common during the winter months. Indeed, in the winter, it is common to see the Canada goose, red-tailed hawk, rock dove, yellow-bellied sapsucker, American goldfinch, Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bluejay, Raven, Northern Flicker, and many types of woodpeckers.
The red-headed woodpecker is active in the winter at this park
As well as having radio contact capability with the park rangers, we will have at least one first responder with us trained in first aid and CPR.
In autumn, a group of us went on a hike at Sky Meadows, and we found the rolling countryside, placid lakes, and surrounding mountains to make this an enchanted and captivating land. It was a truly beautiful park. We also hiked here in the winter, and it was fantastic. For good reason, historical reenactors crave this area, since it looks exactly as it did 150 years ago.
Here is a photo showing some of our hikers during our autumn hike at Sky Meadows State Park
Here are our hikers on our fall hike
We did this hike last February, and it turned out great, thus we will return, and walk upon these rich trails in the winter. This can be our one year anniversary hike!
Prior hikers have described this area as "unspoiled, saved, protected, ageless, tranquil, and inviting," and that is an excellent description of this park. It is as if the entire area has been frozen in time in the mid 1800s.
The park opens at 8 AM and closes at dusk. On this particular date, sunset arrives at 5:40 PM (the sunrise is at 7:09 AM).
Please be advised that the trails may be treacherous. The frozen snow may make hiking challenging and difficult.
While the trails are well-marked, they could have much snow on them so we should plan accordingly
Winter time at Sky Meadows is a time for discovery; it is a much more peaceful and introspective time than the crowded summer months.
Ice storms on the fields and mountains can create wonderful scenery here
View from Sky Meadows State Park during the fall season
Here's what it looks like in the winter
Here are hikers venturing out in the winter at Sky Meadows on an earlier adventure there during the cold weather season
This picture of an eagle landing was taken at Sky Meadows on a prior February
I took this photo of a hawk in the fall at Sky Meadows
The Mount Bleak House, where we will meet
Just an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C., Sky Meadows State Park in Clarke and Fauquier counties, offers a peaceful getaway on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With rolling pastures and woodlands, the park boasts beautiful vistas of the foothills and access to the Appalachian Trail. Its rich history is shaped by the development of agriculture and the impact of the Civil War.
Mosby's Ranges moved stealthily along the tails at Sky Meadows, and many believe they were America's first Guerrila Warriors. Their lightning quick raids and ability to elude Union Army pursuers, then disappearing in the wilderness, gave them an aura of mystique. Our very first Special Forces.
Civil War Reenactors with the Mount Bleak House behind them
A couple in mid-19th century outfits riding on the grounds of Sky Meadows
Yes, the War Between the States was a terrible time, but there were moments of solace as well. Much like the eye of a hurricane, where there is a placid spot in its epicenter while destruction swirls around it. At places such as Sky Meadows, people found some inner peace while the world seemed to be falling apart.
Fortified lookout used during the Civil War along one of the Sky Meadows hiking trails
In the morning, I will heat up a pot of real apple cider over a fire. Yes, I know all about the Virginia outdoor fire ban, but this will not apply to our group. After our hike, we will head to Front Royal for lunch.
Of course, the weather has to be conducive to our hike. More information will be made available to all attendees as we get closer to the date of the activity.
Here is a brochure with park information and a map of the trails:
Sky Meadows State Park Information and Trail Map
For further information on sensible articles of clothing that one should wear during cold weather outdoor events, follow this link to an article on this topic:
Letter to Hikers - Winter Hiking Gear - What to Bring and Wear
A view from Sky Meadows, where natural beauty merges with peaceful solitude
As is true on all our outdoor activities, no smoking and no alcohol. By respecting the health of one another, we thus show our respect for nature, which encompasses us all. As noted earlier, a profile picture is required for this activity, for your own safety. No one will be left behind, as we will have a sweep and be in radio contact at all times. The activity is dependent on safe weather, as hiker safety is the top priority. If the event is canceled due to inclement weather, all will get an email the evening before, no later than 9 PM. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at any time.