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South River Falls

posted Aug 28, 2018, 4:08 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 9, 2018, 3:53 PM ]
It was Sandy's birthday weekend so we headed to Shenandoah National Park for a weekend of hiking, waterfalls, and camping.  Shenandoah is one of the only national parks that allow dogs on the trails so it would be great to bring Alex out on our trip.  We left early Friday morning and arrived at the South River Picnic Area in the Central District around 930.  From here, we started hiking down South River Falls Trail.  With all the recent rain, the river was really flowing.  After a mile or so, we came to the overlook for the waterfall, but the view was mostly obscured by trees.


Continuing a short ways, we turned right on South River Falls Road and followed to the end at South River.  A short spur trail led upstream to the base of the falls.


The sun was shining right on it, but it was quite impressive in high water.  I climbed up to the base for a picture.


From here, we started driving north on Skyline Drive to meet our friends but had plenty of time to stop at some of the overlooks.  South River Overlook was just past the picnic area and there were a lot of goldenrod blooming here.


Just a little further was Baldface Mountain Overlook.


Our next stop was at the Point Overlook, though we didn't go all the way to the overlook.


A couple miles further, we stopped at Naked Creek Overlook.


Near Big Meadows, a couple cars had pulled over so we did too.  A mama bear and two cubs were in a tree right next to the road.


The cubs were fast asleep, while the mother seemed to be scratching her back against the tree bark.  A lot of thistle were blooming along the road here with butterflies galore.


A little past Big Meadows, we stopped at the Franklin Cliffs Overlook.


Crescent Rock Overlook was our next stop where we could see down into Ida Valley, which was set up for residents displaced by the creation of the park.


Next, we stopped at Thorofare Mountain Overlook.


And our final stop was Pinnacles Overlook.


Then we parked at Panorama by Thornton Gap to meet up with Justine and the rest of the group.  They all arrived shortly after we did.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail southbound, it was around 2 miles up to the summit of Mary's Rock.


There were great views from the exposed rocks at the top.  I climbed up the rocks for a good view.


Down below, Thornton Gap and Skyline Drive were visible.


After some pictures, we headed back.  Before reaching camp, we stopped at Elkwallow Wayside and got some dinner before heading to Matthews Arm campground.  We had a nice group site at the far end of the campground.  After setting up, we built a campfire and then went to bed early.