This trip began at the northern end of Skyline Drive, Rt#340 just south of Front Royal. We were hoping to see some of the expected brilliant fall covers and also find some small red leaves for my wife's crafts. We expected to see the types of trees and colors change as we climbed in altitude from the entrance, around 1700' to over 3000' at the peak of this section.
Then we were going to continue on to Thornton Gap, Rt#211 interchange, and possibly on towards Skyland and Big Meadows. And then finally continue down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge down towards the crafts and produce village of Sperryville.
There was supposed to be a chance of rain and thunderstorms over the course of the afternoon.
View of the Massanutten Mountain to the west, and Signal Knob at its northern end.
Colors as we move south
Moody view of the Massanutten Mountain
The best overlook appeared to be Gooney Run Overlook, approaching mile marker 8. At this overlook, we observed a falcon riding the thermals. Following its departure from the visible area, we then had the opportunity to watch a red-tailed hawk flying leisurely above, coming to a stationary position in several instances.
(View from SW to NW)
As we rose in altitude, the rain quickly turned to fog--where we observed a number of yellow-slickered bicyclists riding towards Front Royal. The fog became so thick that the white and yellow lines almost disappeared, and cars from the other direction abruptly appeared out of the fog.
After approximately 6 miles of hard fog driving, we drove out of the fog around Mathews Arm campground. We decided to take a rest at Elkwallow Wayside. The next stop was Pass Mountain Overlook. Pass Mountain is associated with Pass Run, which runs down the western side of the Blue Ridge, down to the town of Kimball on US Rt#40, where the Country Waye RV resort is located--cited in an earlier blog entry.
Pass Mountain Overlook
Looking west to Rt#211 west, Luray, and Massanutten Gap
When we arrived at Thornton Gap, we noted that fog was starting back up, continuing as you proceeded south, past Mary's Rock. So we chose to head down Rt#211 to Sperryville.
Departing Skyline Drive at Rt#211, Thornton Gap/Panorama
Driving down Rt#211 towards Sperryville
Leaving Shenandoah National Park
Sperryville was in full activity--with crafts, apples [including my all time favorite the Stayman], honey, cider, hams, and other specialty items available for sale.
School is out at Rappahannock High School
Continuing east on Rt#211