It's time again for one of my all-time favorite (late) fall foliage forays out to spectacular Kennedy Peak. Let's meet at the Vienna NORTH lot at 9 SHARP for carpools with an on-time departure of NLT 9:15 and return to Vienna by APPROX. 5pm, with an optional apres-hike refreshment stop at Hawksbill Brewing in Luray.
This a moderate hike with some more strenuous uphill stretches, so please be sure you are sufficiently fit to maintain a reasonable group pace. You can find route details and a topo map at the following link. Hope to see you there, amigos!
Kennedy Peak has some of the best vistas in the region. The out and back hike ends with a spectacular 360° view from the fire tower viewing platform at the summit of Kennedy Peak. The hike itself is reasonably easy. It starts with a gentle incline along the ridge, then climbs more steeply around the western flank of the peak. At the ridge there is parking on either side of VA675. DO NOT block the private drive on the south side.
Mile 0.0 - From VA675 and ridgeline parking area head north on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail as it follows an old forestry road. The trail is wide and climbs gradually along the ridge for 1.3 miles.
Mile 1.3 - Descend through a saddle where the trail then climbs around the eastern side of Kennedy Peak before making a hairpin turn back towards the western side of the mountain.
Mile 2.2 - Arrive at a split in the trail. Follow the trail to the left for 25 yards to a campsite and semi-obstructed view of Fort Valley. Return to the Massanutten Trail and continue uphill for another 0.2 miles to the ridge and intersection with the white blazed Kennedy Peak Trail. Mile 2.4 - Turn right and follow the Kennedy Peak trail as it climbs for the remaining 0.2 miles to the Kennedy Peak fire tower.
Mile 2.6 - From the fire tower lookout platform there are expansive 360° views of the Luray Valley and South Fork of the Shenandoah River to the east, and the Massanutten Range including Duncan Knob and Kerns Mountain to the southwest.
5.2 Mile Out/Back Hike: From the fire tower retrace your route back to the parking area on VA675 to complete the 5.2 mile out and back hike.
9.2 Mile Loop Hike: Continue north on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail then descend and follow the Stephens Trail south to the lower parking area. At the far end of the parking area the orange blazed Massanutten Trail climbs the towards the ridge to the parking area on VA675.
We will visit some of the lesser known spots as well as the usual highlights.
This is an easy, though fast, walk around the mall. Route varies, but walk may include Smithsonian Castle, Washington monument, Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, MLK memorial, tidal basin, Signers memorial, and my favorite, the Roosevelt memorial.
Many people feel that the mall is at its most beautiful at night with the monuments lit.
We walk fast, this is not a stroll.
This is a walk- not a sightseeing tour. We stop very briefly, if at all, at the monuments, then move on.
Where to Meet: In front of Smithsonian castle, Mall side, under the portico. (Roof covered entrance)
We leave 6:15 sharp. Please be a few minutes early.
Difficulty: Easy, although we do walk fast. If you can’t stay with the group I assume you can find your way back on your own.
Distance: 5-6 miles
Duration: 1-3/4 hours
Scenery: National monuments, tourists, geese, pigeons.
Trail surface: Some gravel, paving.
Facilities: There are rest room facilities at various spots, we will stop as needed.
Park Fees: none
Elevation Gain: Nominal
Metro: Smithsonian stop. Blue, Silver, Orange lines.
There tends to be metered parking on Jefferson drive that opens up right at 6.
Bringing a flashing light can be helpful.