Let's go for a hike at Buzzard Rock!
The route: From the Buzzard Rock parking area on State Route 619/Mountain Rd, we’ll follow the white blazed Buzzard Rock Trail as it winds through several small hollows on the lower part of the mountain before becoming steeper and rockier, reaching the northern edge of the ridge in 1.5 miles. The ridge features wonderful views of Middletown, Passage Creek, and the fish hatchery to the north, so we’ll take a short break to catch our breath and enjoy the view.
After the break we’ll continue south and up the ridgeline another half mile to the top of Buzzard Rock North, enjoying views from the cliffs on both side of the trail. At the top we’ll turn around and retrace our steps to the parking area.
This is a not a long hike; about 3.5 miles, and should take around 2 hours. But be aware, there is a 650-foot elevation change each way, out and back, so it's not a piece of cake. The going is fairly easy during the initial ascent, but becomes rocky and steep as you approach the ridgeline. The last half-mile south along the ridgeline is very rocky and narrow, with sheer cliffs on both sides. If you have difficulties with depth perception, this hike is probably best avoided.
Google trail map here: http://tinyurl.com/k9xxh3l
How to get there:
• To get to the Metro Station meetup point: The Vienna Metro Station is on the Orange and Silver lines. To get to the Vienna North parking lot from the I-495 Capital Beltway (either direction), take I-66W and drive west, away from Washington DC, for about 1.6 miles. Take exit 62 for VA-243 N/Nutley St and merge onto it, then take the first left at Virginia Center Blvd. Follow Virginia Center Blvd about 0.3 miles as it curves around and you’ll see the entrance to the Metro parking lot on your left. The GPS location is[masked], [masked].
• To get to the trailhead: From the Vienna Metro North parking lot, exit to the right, take the ramp onto I-66W and drive west for almost 56 miles. Take exit 6 to US-340/US-522, drive south about a mile, then turn right onto VA-55 W/ W Strasburg Road and drive about 5 miles. At a historical marker for the “State Fish Hatchery” you turn left onto State Route 678/Fort Valley Road, follow it for a bit over a mile, and turn left again onto State Route 619/Mountain Road, at a sign for the "Virginia Fish Cultural Station." After driving just over a mile you’ll see the trailhead sign on your right. The approximate address is 3134 Mountain Road, Front Royal, VA 22630, GPS =[masked], [masked]. There is only room for about a dozen cars at the trailhead, so carpooling is encouraged. The drive is about 60 miles and takes about an hour each way.
• Google driving map: http://tinyurl.com/p3arh9b (http://tinyurl.com/p3arh9b%20)
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, and your furry friend if desired. (Leashes, please.) The layered look is fashionable for changing temperatures, and a camera might be a handy accessory.
Weather: The forecast is sunny and a high of 76F. Updates here: http://tinyurl.com/psnsvn8
Advisory: As a reminder, this is an adult group, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being during events. No one under 18 years of age is allowed at this event, either as members or as guests, to include babies in carriers and/or strollers.
Administrative stuff: There are no restroom facilities or drinking fountains at the trailhead or anywhere on the hike. There are a couple of commercial establishments nearby, listed below and shown on the Google driving map.
• Starbucks, 125 Riverton Commons Plaza, Front Royal, VA, (540)[masked]
• McDonald's, 9846 U.S. 522, Front Royal, VA, (540)[masked]
• Dunkin' Donuts, 9886 Winchester Rd, Front Royal, VA, (540)[masked]
• 2016 Fall Foliage Map: http://tinyurl.com/zczwqp8