The lure of the mountains
Shenandoah National Park, established in 1935, was developed to provide outdoors activities and access to the mountains for those living on the East Coast. Up to that point, much of the emphasis by the National Park Service had been the creation of national parks in the western United States.
The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia had been a popular getaway for people starting in the late 1800s. The mountains were also the summer home of President Herbert Hoover who built Rapidan Camp as a retreat.
From the beginning of the formation of the park, the goal was to build “a sky-line drive” as the greatest single feature to allow visitors to gain access and view the beauty of the park. Today, 105-mile Skyline Drive is the portal to all of the experiences Shenandoah National Park has to offer.
The park is also the location of one of the most famous trails in North America – the Appalachian Trail. More than 100 miles of the 2,200-mile trail – including a total of 544 miles in Virginia – cuts down the middle of the park as it follows the route of Skyline Drive.
Go to nps.gov/sheh for more information.
The ride up Reddish Knob
Not far from the park in the area of Bridgewater, Va., I took part in the Virginia Challenge bike ride coordinated by a friend of mine, Len Moyerman, who lives part of the year in Massanutten Resort.
The 56-mile ride featured a 6-mile climb (and I mean climb) up to the 4,400-foot summit of Reddish Knob. Some sections were 11 to 15 degrees, which in biking and hiking language translates to extremely hard. The climb actually started about 2 miles earlier, but purists only count the extreme sections.
It took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes to climb the mountain at top speeds of 3 to 5 mph. That was not the case on the downhill as I reached speeds of 35 to 38 mph; the ride down took less than 15 minutes.
Reddish Knob, located in the Alleghany Mountains near the border of West Virginia within George Washington National Forest, is one of the highest peaks in Virgina. My legs are testament to that as I write this two days later.