Hiking Mary's Rock
Guys, I have SUCKED this year at putting up the little hikes in-between the bigger trips & weekends and I apologize. I promise all of the hikes I've been doing in my free time are mostly already on here, so I don't really feel pressure to put up duplicate adventures.
But anyways... awhile ago Michael and I met up with my sister and mom to do a hike in Shenandoah National Park. We decided on Mary's Rock because I haven't hiked it during the summertime yet (I like to avoid crowds) but on this particular day we decided to do it anyways. When we got to the parking area around 10:00am there was a tour bus... yes, a tour bus... and only one very small space left to park. We began our climb up and it was gorgeous. The weather was perfect, hovering around 70 degrees and it was sunny. We didn't encounter anyone until the tour bus full of people came down the mountain. We were forced to the side of the trail for a few minutes as they passed but we happily did this as it meant we wouldn't have to be at the summit with them. A few short minutes later we let a very loud group of four people pass us, otherwise it was just us! When we got to the summit there were a few groups of people but for the most part people were chatting quietly and enjoying the view. My sister and I took a few shots for Devil's Backbone before sitting with my mom and Michael and eating lunch. The views from Mary's Rock are great, although not my favorite in the park. To the north/northeast there are mountains for miles but to the west there's farmland. If you climb up to the second peak you can see a little bit farther but for the most part the views to the south and southeast are obstructed by trees. After lunch we headed back down the mountain!
There are two ways to get to the top of Mary's Rock but my favorite way is to park at Meadow Spring Parking Area because you're less likely to encounter lots of people and there's an extra lookout and the ruins of an old homestead. From the parking area, look left up Skyline Drive and you'll see a concrete marker across the road (about 50 yards up the road) and that will be your access point. Continue up the mountain and take a right at the intersection with the Appalachian Trail. Hike for a little under a mile until you reach the intersection of Mary's Rock Lookout Trail and take a LEFT onto this trail. You'll reach the summit shortly after this! To get back to the parking lot retrace your steps.