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This is a great though strenuous spring leg stretcher to celebrate the start of National Park Week. This lollipop-shaped hike showcases both waterfalls and views, two of Shenandoah National Park's natural beauties. We will start our hike at the Upper Hawksbill parking lot and ascend a short distance to lunch upon the Hawksbill summit, the highest point in the park. Properly fueled and warmed up, we will travel south via the Appalachian Trail to the Big Meadows area, where we will descend steeply down a rugged trail towards Lewis Spring Falls. After some proper Dynamically Lollygagging,™ we will make a switch-backed ascent to meet the Appalachian Trail and retrace our steps. Along the way, we will stop off at the Blackrock overlook for one last vista before returning to the Upper Hawksbill parking lot. The total length of our hike will be around 13 miles with approximately 2500 feet of elevation gain, so this trek is recommended only for experienced hikers in good aerobic condition. For your consideration, some spots may be muddy and slick due to spring runoff. Park admission is free in honor of National Park Week! Bring plenty of water, lunch/snacks, bug spray, sunscreen and about $16 for transportation and Adventuring trip fee. We will stop at the Sheetz in Warrenton on our way to the trailhead, where you may purchase made-to-order sandwiches for lunch. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at the East Falls Church Metro Kiss & Ride lot. An optional post-hike dinner meal stop may be made on the return trip to East Falls Church, at the wishes of the hike participants.
(This sturdy perennial on the Adventuring calendar is one major part of the legacy left us by Damon Miller, who passed away in 2018 after decades of active participation and leadership. Accordingly, we will henceforward call this the Damon Miller Memorial Hike. Here is the trip description, based on Damon's own words.) Cherry blossoms? Schmerry blossoms! The cherry trees get all the hype (and the crowds), but the azaleas at the National Arboretum provide the best underrated springtime display in D.C. as they blanket the hillside of Mount Hamilton at the National Arboretum. Threatened with destruction a few years ago by alleged budget constraints, public outrage and private philanthropy saved the azaleas, and they continue their springtime display. We will take an easy 5-mile hike around the Arboretum, a 446-acre hidden gem in the middle of Northeast D.C. We will visit not only the azaleas but also other seasonal displays (including dogwood, daffodils, magnolias, forsythias, Japanese quince and andromeda, early crabapples, flowering cherries, camellias, redbuds, and arisaemas). For good measure we'll also take in the Asian Gardens, meadows, forested areas and the famous original National Capitol Columns. All this will be followed by a picnic lunch. We'll gather at precisely 9 a.m. at the Rhode Island Avenue Metro; we'll carpool from there, and should be back by 1:30 or 2 p.m. Those desiring to meet us at the Arboretum should arrive by 9:30 to assure a parking space, as the lot fills quickly, and gather in front of the Visitor Center, near the R Street NE entrance. Bring water, lunch, sunscreen and $2 for trip fee. Drivers needed.
[NOTE: To go on this hike you must purchase online a $4 Daily Access Permit from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). See the final paragraph for instructions on how to do this. Don't purchase the permit until I confirm the day before the hike that it's o.k. to proceed. That's because the permit is date-specific and weather or the stage of the flowers may cause the date of the hike to change.] This moderate one-way hike of about 8 miles with about 1000 feet of ascent is in Virginia's Thompson Wildlife Management Area on the Appalachian Trail north of Shenandoah National Park. This area has been known for nearly a century as one of the densest concentrations of trilliums (an estimated 27 million!) in the eastern part of the country. Trip fee and transportation (for non-drivers) will be about $10. Pack a lunch and something to drink. This hike requires a car shuttle; those persons who will need a ride and anyone who can drive should inform me when responding. Meet by 8:30 AM near the entrance to the Pentagon Hayes St. Parking Lot which is on the north side of Army Navy Dr. between S. Hayes St. and S. Joyce St. The parking lot is about a 6-minute walk from the Pentagon City Metro station. Instructions for purchasing the Daily Access Permit: Go to this webpage to create your DGIF customer account: https://license.gooutdoorsvirginia.com/Licensing/CustomerLookup.aspx. After creating your account click on "Make a Purchase." Scroll down the page past the categories "Popular Items," "Hunting," and "Fishing," to "Special Licenses." Locate "Access Permit - Daily" and click on "Add to Cart." The permit costs $4.00. On the next page click on the "Checkout Now" button near the top of the page. Be sure to fill in the Start Date for the permit (currently 4/27/19), complete the required survey, and then make your payment with a credit card.
Maryland Heights is one of Adventuring’s most popular hikes, and it’s no wonder. The hike starts in the picturesque 19th-century town of Harpers Ferry, WV and provides spectacular views all along the way. One high point (pun intended) is the dramatic overlook directly above Harpers Ferry. However, be forewarned that this scenic and historic hike is also physically challenging. But for those able to make the climb, the rewards will be stupendous. After a lovely walk through the Lower Town of Harpers Ferry and then along the Potomac on the C&O Canal, we’ll begin the steep upward trek to the summit, where the remnants of the Civil War Stone Fort await. We’ll then descend to the magnificent Harpers Ferry Overlook. Once we return to Harpers Ferry, we can join in the festivities of the town’s Flip Flop Festival [flipflopfestival.org], which doesn’t refer to footwear but to a way to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail . Total length of our strenuous outing should be about 7.5 miles, with 1700 feet of often-steep elevation gain. Bring plenty of beverages, lunch, sturdy boots (no flip flops) and about $15 for transportation, admission and trip fees. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station. Those who want to drive directly should be at the shuttle bus waiting area of the Harpers Ferry Visitor’s Center by 10:45.