Hike 8- Mary's Rock via Appalachian Trail (Southern Approach) Virginia.
2.5 miles / 741 foot gain in elevation / out & back / 2 hours on the trail
The weather on our second day in Shenandoah National Park was much nicer than our first day. The wind had died down and the sun was shining. We still needed our hats and coats, especially at the top of the mountain, but it was perfect hiking weather. I gave my family the option of doing the 3.4 mile hike to Mary's Rock by the northern approach or the 2.5 mile hike by going the southern approach. They all voted for the 2.5 mile trail. Little did they know that by choosing the shorter hike I would make them do a second hike that day!
We parked at Spring Meadow Parking lot at mile 33.5. The trail head is across the street from the parking lot. The beginning part of this hike is through the mountain laurel and even though it wasn't in bloom I can only imagine how pretty it would be. We came across the ruins of a old hiker cabin that burnt down in 1946. Then we continued on to Mary's Rock.
Mary's Rock is composed of Pedlar granodiorite and has an elevation of 3,514 feet. The panoramic views are breathtaking. The legend of this site is a young woman named Mary Thornton once made this hike along to the rocky summit. When she returned she carried a bear cub under each arm.
I kept my eyes peeled for some bears, but sadly we didn't see any. Or maybe it is a good thing we didn't see any. We did however spend some time enjoying the views. My youngest son had no interest it getting close to the edge of the rocks and instead sat a safe distance from the cliffs and he held onto the dogs as we scrambled over the rocks and took pictures.
I am very grateful we didn't do this hike on the day before. It had been so windy the day before and I know if we made it to the top we wouldn't have been able to stand up and enjoy the views without fear of getting blown off the edge!