Hike at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane and Lunch at Front Royal

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:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Main-Street-Mill/151919764858071?sk=info

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.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Good time!!! Thanks Bob!

    February 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great group of folks' had a very good time.

    February 10, 2013

  • Lorraine W.

    Lots of fun despite the cold! I think I took the prize for the most wardrobe adjustments.

    February 10, 2013

  • Lorraine W.

    The shorter hike was fun too! Hope to see you soon!

    February 10, 2013

  • Doris

    Thank you Bob for a great day and good apple cider

    February 9, 2013

  • Doris

    It was a great hike...beatiful day...blue sky, combination of winter colors...after 10 minutes of walk I forgat all about the cold wind...and the food mmm so good

    February 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Yes, it was blustery, but we did fine on the trails. Somehow, despite the wind gusts, we got the fire lit for the cider, and we had some real hot apple cider while we put on layers upon layers of clothing. And then we hiked. When we reached the Appalachian Trail, we were surprised to see that it was completely snow covered on the other side of the mountain. Along the way, we checked out ruins, found a sniper's roost where years past a Confederate took aim, we talked about things that you don't read in books, and finally headed back to our base camp. After, we went to the Main Street Grill and had a fantastic meal. There, we observed Jim's hair taking on a new life form and watched Tom learning a new dance step. And, of course, we had a good iPhone lesson. Thanks to Tom for sweeping and ensuring we were safe on the trail, as well as to for Jim for bringing the water to clean the cider pot. It was a fabulous day to be in our great outdoors with a first-rate group of people.

    February 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Fun hike, great view, love hiking on the little bit of snow too.

    February 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    If any one would like to carpool from annapolis/kent island let me know.Bob I'll bring some cups for the cider.

    February 8, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      ok,i will bring two gallons.

      February 8, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks! The last time our large posse took over the park, we used up all the water in the little well beside the ice house...... I figure that right before the hike, I can use your water to rinse the pots and just leave them there to avoid having apple molasses in them when we return!

      February 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Yes, one should always monitor the weather, and keep a weather radio accessible. Below is how the wind chill will affect the temperature in real-feel temperature terms. For example, if the temperature is 35 degrees according to the commercial weather report, here is how the wind speed will make the temperature be to you:
    10 mph: Subtract 8 degrees
    20 MPH: Subtract 11 degrees
    30 MPH: Subtract 13 degrees
    Many novice hikers in their enthusiasm forget to do this calculation, and suffer the consequences.

    February 3, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Bob, who needs a weather radio? We have YOU :)

      1 · February 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Some hikers are bringing STABILicers (i.e., detachable ice cleats that go over your boots), and that is a personal choice. Some are wearing Neoprene hats and gloves. Others sill will have so many layers on that they will look like a walking Goodwill. All is well if it is what is best for you. Remember: What you wear is an individual decision, but what is most important is that you be comfortable, warm, and dry.

    February 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - You do not need to bring any food for this hike. However, if you can, bring some cash for a donation for the apple cider and propane. And, if you cannot make the event, please cancel now. Prepare your gear tonight, and leave early tomorrow, so that you do not have to rush. Be careful on the roads, as there may be black ice on them. Godspeed to all.

    February 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - The entire state park is now covered with a fine blanket of snow, and it is beautiful. Of course, since the temperature will rise today, and there is a chance of rain later in the day, much of the snow may melt. So, for tomorrow, it is still to be clear, cold, and breezy. Dress appropriately, wear layers, and have good hiking boots.

    February 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - If you cannot make this event, please update your RSVP accordingly. Also, firm up your carpool plans now, rather than on Friday night. Lastly, please read the file provided above: http://files.meetup.com/1415650/Letter%20to%20Hikers%20-%20Winter%20Hiking%20Gear%20-%20What%20to%20Bring%20and%20Wear.pdf

    February 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - This is a winter hike. Please read the entire activity narrative and especially read the link to what to wear on winter hikes.

    February 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    February 6, 2013

  • Doug R.

    Hello - does anyone want to carpool from the Dunn Loring or Vienna Metro Stations? Room for two. Will probably stay for lunch. Doug

    February 6, 2013

  • Jennifer

    Is anyone coming from the Rockville area? Sorry for the late entry, but I just got off the wait list.

    February 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Jennifer. I live in Potomac, if you'd like to carpool give me a call. [masked]

      February 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Anyone interested in a carpool from the Burke/GMU area or Centreville Commute parking?

    February 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Natalie, send an email to Dianne Godar and tell her you want to join us...I'm going with her meeting at Centreville Commuter Parking Lot 9:00 am would love for you to join us...she is driving. Karin

      February 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Charmaine, same message back to you...if we have more folks than spaces then I do not mind driving a group down...and yes Lunch is a definite for me! Karin

      February 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Yes, please try to get carpools settled now, rather than the night before the event!

    February 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Bob, if we have back packing boots are they good enough for this level hike? Or do we need to have the ice cleats strap-ons?

    February 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Good question, Karin. Hiking boots are fine. We will stay on the trail, and the ice is not an issue on there. Taking our time helps, as rushing makes for mistakes.

      February 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Anyone leaving from Woodbridge/Lake Ridge?

    February 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Anybody coming from Fredericksburg? Would love to carpool. Let me know........ Thanks!

    February 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I like this forcast unless the wind chill is in the teens. I am keeping an eye on the forcast.

    February 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - The long range Doppler forecast for this area is sunny and 40 degrees. This will be updated in time as the activity date gets closer.

    1 · February 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - Obviously, there is no way of knowing this far ahead as to what the weather will be like in this area, but the calendar says it will be winter, so I will plan on bringing hot apple cider and have it set up before we begin the hike.

    1 · January 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hope to join you guys!

    January 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    anyone want to carpool - can meet along Rt 495 or Rt 66 - I'm coming from Maryland

    January 22, 2013

  • Jim P.

    Hope to join you all, no matter what the weather should be fun & warmer than skiing I just did.

    January 20, 2013

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