This hike has been burning a hole in the to-do bucket since last August, waiting for the leaves to fall and a fee-free day to come along. Let's go to the mountains!
The route: From the west end of the Jenkins Gap parking lot (about mile marker 12), we’ll take the path to the Appalachian Trail and follow the trail south for 3.1 miles to the summit of North Marshall Mountain and return.
This is an out-and-back hike, easy to moderate difficulty, with a total distance of 6.2 miles of smiles and an elevation gain from 2,355 at the Jenkins Gap trailhead to 3,368 feet at Mt. Marshall summit. Plan for about two and a half hours of hiking and a total driving time of about 2 hours and 40 minutes, plus some extra time for breaks during both hiking and driving. We should get back to Vienna Metro between 3 and 4 pm.
Google hike map here: http://tinyurl.com/lgnfyp3
How to get there: From the Vienna Metro North Lot, Oakton, VA, head east on Virginia Center Blvd and take the ramp onto I-66 W and drive west for 48.7 miles. Take exit 13 toward Virginia 79/VA-55/Linden/Front Royal, turn left onto VA-79 S/Apple Mountain Rd and go under the I-66 overpass, and turn right onto VA-55 W/John Marshall Hwy. Continue to follow VA-55 W for 5.2 miles into Front Royal, passing a KFC, Burger King, and McDonald’s as you drive through town. Turn left onto US-340 S/S Royal Ave and follow US-340 S drive 0.5 miles, then turn left onto Skyline Dr. After driving 12.4 miles, the entrance to the parking area will be on your right, immediately after the sign reading "Jenkins Gap Overlook." (The arrow on the sign points to the left, which is the overlook, but the parking lot is to the right.) Estimated total drive time without stops is 1 hour, 20 minutes.
Google driving directions map: http://tinyurl.com/o52gyem
How to find us:
• We’ll meet for carpooling in the Vienna Metro North Lot, Oakton, VA, at 9:00 am
• After the drive, we’ll rendezvous at the Jenkins Gap parking lot on Skyline Drive, GPS =[masked],[masked]
What to bring: Bring water, comfy shoes, your furry friend if desired (leashes, please), and maybe a snack for the trail. The forecast is sunny and a high of 51 degrees, so consider a layer for the morning chill. As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted.
Cost: None. (January 20 is a fee-free day!)
Administrative stuff: Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, at Mile 4.6 along Skyline Drive, has restrooms and drinking fountains. Burger King, McDonalds, and Spelunker’s Burgers and Frozen Custard have facilities, and are in Front Royal along the way.
• SNP maps: http://tinyurl.com/7ywb7aq
• SNP North district map: http://tinyurl.com/k9fx72v
• SNP rules about pets: http://tinyurl.com/qyqw6qv
• Prehike notes, topo map: http://tinyurl.com/p835tth