A few years ago I bought a book called Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park. Was it stupid to assume that the hikes in the book would be easy, which means to me that I could carry my three year old in a backpack without feeling like I’m having a heart attack?
Maybe, but I’ve been stupider in my life.
I picked the Mary’s Rock hike from the book because it was close to the main road, was near a big parking lot, and didn’t seem like it would be hard to find. After a picnic lunch, we started up the trail, and the steep steps that started it off almost killed me. Past the steps the trail was rocky and got slippery when it started to rain shortly after. We reminded ourselves that the first twenty minutes of any hike always feel like hell, and kept on.
It was worth it! We got to the summit after about an hour and were rewarded with amazing views and large rocks suitable for climbing. It had stopped raining by then so we played on the summit for about 30 minutes and enjoyed our snacks (grapes and gummy soda bottles.)
The trail to Mary’s Rock is located at the Panorama parking lot near the Thorton Gap entrance to Skyline Drive. Panorama has bathrooms and picnic tables.