View Full Version : Sky Meadows State Park

01-23-2021, 23:54
I'm a proponent of getting off main trails when opportunities arise for great scenery or just a less crowded alternative. In my view, "purity" means that I have connected my footprints from one end of my hike to the other, not necessarily whether I've stuck to the main trail 100% of the time (of course HYOH ... )

In this spirit, I thought that I would make a recommendation to check out Sky Meadows State Park, just south of Ashby Gap in Northern Virginia. On prior trips on the AT in this area, I have just gone right through this park, but on a day hike yesterday, I decided to do explore this park along with the AT section I was doing. The last time I explored Sky Meadows was at least 15 years ago.

The quick option is an out and back on the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail, which is clearly marked at its junction with the A.T. Less than a half mile from the junction, you come to the Piedmont Overlook which has sweeping views toward the east. On a clear winter day, like yesterday, I could see the high-rises of northern Virginia in the far distance.

A better option is to take the North Ridge Trail from the AT, then the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail to the overlook, and then continue on this trail back to the A.T. However, you'll miss a short section of the A.T. if you do this.

There is also a small campground at sky meadows a short distance (but downhill) from the AT.

Anyway, here is a map of the area for those interested.


01-23-2021, 23:57

01-24-2021, 11:59
Yes. A couple of years ago I did a side trip in Sky Meadows -- really, really nice.

I imagine there are innumerable such places and I hope to see as many as I can whenever I hike sections. I really would like to see Gulf Hagas someday.

01-24-2021, 15:49
Thank you for posting this. It's great to have information about side trails/views and camping areas. I like adding these tidbits to my AT guide, so when I get to that section I have a note/reminder.

01-24-2021, 21:18
There's no doubt about it - there are a large number of worthwhile diversions from the popular trails.

I know of many trails in Shenandoah National Park that are worthwhile diversions from the AT, including the Rose River loop, Jones Run/Doyle River, and Jeremy's Run. All would involve diverting from the AT at a certain point and then rejoining later down the trail but, in my opinion, offer worthwhile scenery.

And the same goes for other popular trails. I just got a permit from Yosemite for a hike this summer. I mapped out a route that avoids the John Muir Trail until south of VVR, near the halfway point. There are a lot of trails in the Sierra Nevada but people just gravitate to the JMT/PCT corridor. From past trips, I have come to know that most other trails are very lightly used. And permits are much easier to get in Yosemite if you aren't doing the traditional JMT.