Hiking Stony ManIn March of 2004, I climbed the highest mountain in the Shenandoah National Park, Hawksbill. In May of 2004, I climbed the 2nd highest mountain in the park, Stony Man, making me the first person ever to climb all the 4,000 foot peaks in Shenandoah National Park! Ok, probably more like the millionth, but who's counting?
Stony Man is easily accessible via Skyline Drive. It can be hiked via the Appalachian Trail over various distances and various trailheads. Perhaps the best trail is from the Little Stony Man Parking Area. While not a long trail, it isn't the shortest, and has plenty of rocks to climb, and open viewpoints. This trail up Stony Man is one of the steeper summit hikes in the park, with almost 800' of elevation gain. The round trip is about 3 miles, enabling a hiker to bag the summit and come back in little more than an hour. That allows for plenty of time to explore other areas of the park.
The first time I hiked Stony Man it was a clear day in early May. Parking at the Little Stony Man parking area, I followed the AT up the trail. Not far up the AT, there are nice views and cliffs.
After reaching this landmark, I headed back into the woods. Parts of this trail are pretty steep, but this part is relatively flat. I reached the highest point on the AT in Shenandoah at 3,837', before I made my final ascent. I noticed the fork in the trail, but remembered there was a circle near the summit. I took the left fork to the summit, and the right fork back. Of course, they both meet up before you get to the summit...(the right fork has better views.)
At the summit itself, I took some time to hike down the scree slope near the top to see what kind of photos I could get. The rock piles on the other side of the mountain are pretty extensive, and I would imagine there would be a nice way to climb this peak from the valley. I did this hike alone, because I wanted to survey Hogback Mountain on the way back up Skyline Drive.