Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hightop Mountain on a gorgeous day

Friday, October 5, 2012:

Do you prefer your views with berries or without?

View with berries, looking NW from Hightop
View SW toward Massanutten from main rock outcrop, Hightop

This was the choice at the summit of Hightop Mountain, not far south of Swift Run Gap in Shenandoah National Park, at the US 33 crossing (the highway that runs west past Massanutten Ski Area and on to Harrisonburg, VA).

The weather was magnificent - there is no more perfect weather than fall weather in the mid-Atlantic region, and today was the epitome of perfect fall weather.  It was clear, nearly calm, and mild, with the temperatures in the low 70's F up on the mountain tops.

Sunrise view from rocks just S of Powell Gap
It was such a great day that I simply had to hike during every daylight minute.  I started before sunrise climbing up an unnamed peak between Powell Gap and Simmons Gap (there's an apple tree right at the summit shading a couple of rocks that you can sit on, but no view).  And I hiked until after sunset, making it north to the South River Picnic Grounds.

And in the middle of the day I got to climb the biggest mountain of the day, Hightop, up and down from both sides.  The walking was easy despite the 800 feet of elevation change.  There is no difficult trail, it seems, in this part of Virginia, or at least in Shenandoah Park, where much of the trail was professionally built (by the CCC) at the time that Skyline Drive was put through between 1931 and 1939.

Days as perfect as this are few and far between, so I felt blessed to be able to soak up every moment of it as I hiked 11 miles of the Appalachian Trail both ways.


Here's the map of today's hike with straight lines on the track that simply connect the several parking spots I used to access the trail.  The title is a link to more photos.

AT Day 249 - Hightop Mountain at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Virginia

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