Shenandoah: Hazel Mountain View, Marys Rock Tunnel


With most of the park behind me, and most of my day complete, I continued the drive north through Shenandoah National Park.  I was too tired to attempt another hike, so I devoted the northern 40-some miles of the park to stopping at overlooks.

Old Rag View Overlook

The Old Rag View Overlook provides a good look at Old Rag Mountain, with its distinctive rocky, exposed summit.

At the top of Old Rag Mountain you’ll find Old Rag Granite, the oldest rock in Shenandoah National Park.  The jagged, “ragged’ appearance of the rock at the summit gave Old Rag its name.

Crescent Rock View

A sign at Crescent Rock View says it’s been popular with tourists, ever since the 1930’s, and was occasionally used for Sunday morning church services.

  The mountain in the background is Hawksbill Mountain.  At 4,050 feet, it’s the highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park.

In the hollow below Crescent Rock View, you can see the tiny town of Ida, Virginia.  When Shenandoah became a National Park in 1935, residents who lived inside the park were relocated to seven towns.  Ida is one of those communities.

Pinnacles Overlook

Pinnacles Overlook provides another good view of Old Rag.

Hazel Mountain Overlook

Hazel Mountain Overlook is a fun stop, because you can do a little rock scrambling.  There’s an outcropping of rock next to the parking area…

… allowing you to climb down and pick a perch, from which you can admire the valley below.

Marys Rock Tunnel

This is the only tunnel on Skyline Drive.

Construction crews bored the 670-foot long Marys Rock Tunnel in 1932, the year after construction began on Skyline Drive.  The hill through which the tunnel passes is solid granite. 

Hogback Overlook

Hogback Overlook is on a sweeping curve, allowing for a wide-angle view to the north.

Range View Overlook

Range View provides a unique perspective on the park.  Because of a curve in the road, this spot looks towards the southwest, which means you’re looking down the length of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Many of the park’s mountains are viewable all at once, including Old Rag, Stony Man (the northernmost Blue Ridge peak to reach above 4,000 feet), and The Pinnacle.

By this time, it was early evening, and the sun was peeking through the tunnel of trees, shining beams of sunlight onto the road.

Massanutten (Again!)

It’s only appropriate that my final stop at a viewpoint would provide another view of Massanutten: the 50-mile-long mountain that rises up in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley, cutting the valley in two.  I had seen the south end of Massanutten earlier in the day, on the other end of the park.  Now, from this viewpoint, I was directly across from Massanutten’s northern end.

This was my final picture of the day, taken at 7:40 p.m.  From here, I drove up to Interstate 66, then followed it into the suburbs of D.C., for the final motel stay of my trip.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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