Sunday, April 1, 2012

Raven Rocks: Hiking a Piece of the Appalachian Trail

Took advantage of the ideal hiking weather this weekend to hike the Appalachian Trail to Raven Rocks. It was a relatively short drive, about an hour from Falls Church, to a hike of moderate length (4 hours) and moderate difficulty (1,530 feet of elevation gain) from a start in Virginia to the Raven Rocks overlook in West Virginia.

The near-record warm winter and lack of snowfall (only 2" in DC) followed by a warm, dry spring has left streams very low. Trails that usually would give you a chance for a little rock-hopping were nearly bone dry:
Low water levels in Appalachian Trail stream

Spotted this snake about 3 or 4 feet long just off the trail. While most snakes move quietly away from people, this one hurried behind a log, then stared us down. Looks like a black racer, a non-venomous constrictor but one of the few snakes that tends to be aggressive towards people rather than hiding or fleeing:
Snake along Appalachian Trail

And here's the reward for a day of hiking - an amazing view of the Shenandoah Valley from the Raven Rocks cliff:
Shenandoah Valley as seen from Raven Rocks in West Virginia
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