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The park is 1,619 acres with 5.6 miles of river frontage along the south fork of the Shenandoah River. The rolling, mountainous land features steep slopes and is mostly wooded. In addition to meandering river frontage, the park offers scenic vistas overlooking Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east.
Outdoor Recreation Award for: Hiking, Picnic Areas
The Allen's Mountain Trail is a 3.2 mile moderate difficulty trail for hiking and biking. The trail weaves through wooded, mountainous terrain, taking users to the highest point in the park on Allen's Mountain. The Campbell's Jump trail can be accessed from Allen's Mountain to offer a shorter hike for those that do not wish to traverse the summit. This trail is accessible from the Cottonwood Trail that begins at the Massanutten Shelter parking area.
Blaze Color: Silver
Bear Bottom Loop Trail is a 5.4 mile round trip, difficult, multi-use trail. This trail begins at the horse trailer parking area and roughly follows the topographic contour lines skirting beautiful creek bed hollows. Big Oak Trail can be accessed about half way through the loop. The upper portion offers scenic winter views of the Massanutten Mountains. Black bear and deer have been observed in this area. The switchbacks that follow the terrain make this trail feel like a real walk in the wilderness. While this is one of the most enjoyable trails in the park, hikers should allow 2 to 3 hours to complete the trail and be sure to take plenty of water.
Blaze Color: Teal
Big Oak is a 1.7 mile, multi-use trail, with a moderate difficulty rating. The trail is located on the west side of the park and offers access to the Tulip Poplar, Redtail Ridge and Shale Barrens trails. Access to the Big Oak Trail can be gained from either the Cullers or Bear Bottom Loop trails. The trail is wooded with many types of oak trees and in the spring, many species of wildflowers can be seen here.
Blaze Color: White
The Bluebell Trail is a 1 mile, easy trail for hiking and biking that passes through a relatively flat, wooded area, next to the south fork of the Shenandoah River. Along the trail there are numerous access points where users can take a break and cool off in the shallows. In the early spring, Virginia Bluebells cover the forest floor along the sides of the trail. Other wildflowers that bloom on this trail include Mayapple, Dutchman's Breeches, Bloodroot, Spring Beauty and Spiderwort. There are a large number of broad-leafed paw paw trees throughout the park and especially here. This trail is accessible from the day use area near shelter 1. It is also accessible from the Hemlock Hollow and River Trails.
Blaze Color: Light Blue
The Campbell's Jump Trail is a .4 mile, easy trail for hiking and biking. This trail bypasses the upper portion of Allen's Mountain, offering a shorter hike for those that do not wish to traverse the summit. The trail is named after a family that once lived on what is now the park property. This trail is wooded and fairly flat, crossing areas of rock with blueberry bushes and mountain laurel along the path.
Blaze Color: Magenta
The Campground Trail is a 0.6 mile, moderate trail for hiking and biking. The Campground trail connects to the Overlook trail, providing guests staying at the RV campground access to both the Cullers Overlook and the visitor center. The trail is wooded and deer are often sighted in this area.
Blaze Color: Purple
The Cottonwood Trail is a 2.3 mile round trip hike. The easy, multi-use trail is accessible from the Massanutten Shelter Parking area. In addition, the Primitive Campground has a separate access point to the trail for registered campers. The trail passes through a wooded area before you reach the boardwalk loop that circles through a wetland area with vernal pools. This quiet corner of the park offers great opportunities for spotting wildlife. In springtime, the vernal pools serve as a breeding ground for salamanders, damselflies, frogs and Fairy Shrimp. Large Cottonwood trees and wildflowers such as Wild Geranium and Jack-in-the Pulpit can be observed here. Several other trails, including Wildcat Ledge, Point and Allen's Mountain, can be accessed from this trail.
Blaze Color: Dark Blue
Culler's Trail is a 2.6 mile, easy, multi-use trail. Visitors can access the trail from the horse trailer parking area and walking a short distance up the Bear Bottom Loop Trail. This trail can also be accessed from the Cabin area, RV campground and near the Bentonville low water bridge at the southwest end of the park. This trail winds through a wooded area with a dirt surface before crossing Overnight road. The trail continues on with a gravel surface as it passes through fields overlooking the Shenandoah River, offering great views of the Massanutten mountains. As the trail passes an area known as a Shale Barren, many endemic wildflowers can be seen at this location. The River, Shale Barrens and Big Oak trails can be directly accessed from Culler's Trail.
Blaze Color: Orange
The Hemlock Hollow Trail is a .5 mile, moderate difficulty hiking and biking trail. It passes through wooded hillsides and over several bridges near the park's visitor center. There are rewarding views of the mountains, as well as tall stands of Eastern Hemlock trees. American toads are often observed along this trail and many trees here are marked by woodpecker cavities. The trail may be accessed from the Bluebell Trail, but users should be aware of sharp inclines when beginning from this location.
Blaze Color: Green
The Overlook Trail is a .5 mile, easy trail for hiking and biking, that runs between the Cullers Overlook and the visitor center. It is a wide, fairly flat, dirt trail that offers beautiful views of the Shenandoah River and Massanutten mountains. The Campground and Hemlock Hollow trails can be accessed from this trail as well.
Blaze Color: Burgundy
The Point Trail is a 2.2 mile, moderate difficulty trail for hiking and biking that is accessible from the Cottonwood Trail in two locations. This quiet and serene trail climbs through hardwood forest and experiences several changes in elevation as it weaves through ravines and hilly terrain.
Blaze Color: Gold
The Redtail Ridge Trail is a 1 mile, easy difficulty multi use trail that is accessible from the Big Oak and Shale Barrens Trails. From either direction the trail follows the ridge top and features some of the best views in the park. This trail also features a observation area a short distance from the main trail. This beautiful location in a saddle along the ridge features a hitching post available to equestrian users. For the most dynamic views and incredible fall foliage, this trail is a must.
Blaze Color: Red
The River Trail is a 2.1 mile, flat, easy, multi use trail that is accessible from Culler's Trail in several places and provides access to the Bluebell Trail. As the name suggests, this trail parallels the Shenandoah River as it runs through flat rolling fields and areas of wildflowers, such as teasel, which attract many butterflies. The trail is mostly fine gravel, though some places have rocky sections, which might be difficult for some bikes and horses. Users should exercise care.
Blaze Color: Dark Green
The Shale Barrens is a .5 mile, difficult, multi-use trail. When accessed from the Cullers Trail, it is a steady climb up and around a ridge that has been cut through shale deposits on a steep hillside. The shallow soil and exposed shale are home to some unusual plants and wildflowers such as Prickly Pear and Wild Columbine. For an easier hike, visitors can access the trail from either Redtail Ridge or Big Oak trail.
Blaze Color: Gray
Tulip Poplar is a .8 mile, easy, multi-use trail. It can be accessed from the Big Oak Trail at the west end of the park. This trail is wooded with many large trees, including oaks and poplars, providing lots of shade in the summer months. Watch for a vernal pool on the west side of the trail that empties during dry seasons. This trail can be part of a circuit hike that includes the Redtail Ridge, Big Oak and Shale Barrens trails.
Blaze Color: Pink
The Turkey Roost Trail is a .2 mile, Moderate trail designed for hiking and biking. The trail is accessible from the Cottonwood Trail and across the road from the Visitor Center parking lot. This trail may be short but it climbs a fairly steep grade from the Cottonwood Trail to the top. A variety of birds can be seen from here and, depending on the time of day, one might see or hear wild turkeys moving through the brush.
Blaze Color: Yellow
The Wildcat Ledge Trail is a .2 mile, difficult hiking trail that is accessible from the Cottonwood Trail boardwalk. The trail takes hikers and bikers up a very steep, rocky slope that eventually levels out for a little while before one last rocky, steep incline at the top of the ledge. At this point there is a spectacular view of the river, fields and mountains that surround the area. This point is near the park boundary which is marked by a fence.
Blaze Color: Beige
Four shelters are available for rent by calling the reservation center at 1-800-933-PARK. Shelters 1, 2 and 3 can accommodate up to 30 people, while the Massanutten shelter can accommodate up to 100 people. Shelters are available for full day rental only, from 8 a.m. to dusk. Each shelter is accessible and equipped with lighting, pedestal grills, a drinking fountain, picnic tables and electricity (a single 15 amp 120v receptacle). All shelter are adjacent to parking areas. Daily parking fees apply to all shelter guests.
A Virginia state fishing license is required at all times for all park guests age 16 and older. Licenses are available for purchase at either the contact station or the visitor center. The major access points for fishing include the main canoe launch and the "Fish Trap" area, located behind shelter 3. For those guests staying in the River Right Campground, there are two sets of stairs that descend into the river where one can fish. A tube launch to the river is located on the Bluebell trail next to the RV Campground. Guests can find additional river access points along the River trail.
The park features ten newly built cabins and one 6 bedroom lodge, which are available for rental year round. Nine of the cabins have 2 bedrooms and one cabin has 3 bedrooms. Each furnished cabin has a fully equipped kitchen with dishes, cooking ware, microwave and coffee pot. Guests must provide their own food and non-food items such as coffee filters, dish soap and toiletry items. Each cabin has central heating and air conditioning, fireplace, bed linens and towels. There are no TV's, phones or dishwashers in the cabins. Rocking chairs decorate each porch. The outside area of each cabin has a large gravel pad that contains a picnic table, fire ring and charcoal grill.
The River Right Campground offers simple, primitive camping close to the river in the eastern part of the park. All campsites are equipped with large, fine gravel camping pads, picnic tables, fire pits with grates and lantern posts. Campsites do not have electricity or water, but are located near a full service bathhouse with individual showers and a large outside sink for washing dishes. Firewood is available for purchase near the main bathhouse. In addition to the flush toilets located here, there are two vault toilets located in the campground and waste water disposal sites are available. Campsites are not accessible by car. Large wagons are available at the campground entrance to transport gear to the campsite. The Cottonwood Campsite is available for reservation to accommodate large, organized groups.
In the summer of 2010 the park opened a brand new RV Campground, which features 32 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 60 feet in length. All sites have water hookups and 20 or 50 amp electric hookups. There are no sewer hookups but a dump station is available. Tent and popup camping are also permitted here. Each site features a steel fire ring with a grill for campfires and cooking, as well as a picnic table. A full service bath house is located in the campground, which is equipped with showers and laundry facilities.In addition, the campground has four camping cabins, each equipped with two sets of bunk beds, accommodating four people. Guests must provide their own linens. Each cabin is equipped with a ceiling fan, table, four chairs and electrical outlets. The outside area has a small front porch with rocking chairs, picnic table, lantern post and fire-ring grill.
The visitor center has a gift shop which features clothing, souvenirs and novelty items. The Friends group sells some drinks and snacks in the visitor center as well.
All the way from California to Maine, and Wisconsin to Virginia
Annette B. Bareford
Meet the VSCC team serving the Eastern Part of Virginia
Virginia Service and Conservation Corps Kick-off
AmeriCorps is once again helping Virginia State Parks so we would like to introduce our Virginia Service and Conservation Corps crews to you.
Just one more day!
If you have ever stayed at a Virginia State Park cabin you would probably have uttered those very same words "Just one more day!" Cabin 9 at Smith Mountain Lake is an ideal getaway for that extra day.
Becoming an Outdoor Greek, Part III: Daytime Retreats
Sara Miller, Marketing Intern
College Greek organizations are often looking for low-cost off-campus daytime activities and Sara offers some additional tips and ideas.
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