...are sometimes not so good.
Parked at Low Gap; did Dickey Ridge Trail to the Visitor Center by way of Snead Farm; Fox Hollow loop; back to car on DRT. Thought I'd remembered (from the early '80s mind you) a direct connect to the summit via DRT but didn't see one. Appears to be a bootleg, tape-marked trail, right at the great view over toward Hogback on DRT that I'd also forgotten. Thought about taking it, but sure I'd see "the right way" so didn't. Nothing, nada, down the ridge. I was really not excited about retracing steps so just kept going.
Anyway, as I got back to Low Gap I thought to myself: how can you do this trip and not even see Dickey Hill summit for the first time in decades? I drove to DR Picnic Ground; parked there; crossed the Drive and hiked the FAA maintenance road to the top. (Where the road meets DRT, keep going; at the intersection where the trail post points to Snead Farm, go right; follow the road with the guardrail.)
Maybe the quietest stretch of the whole day. (DRT has one drawback: it's too close to Skyline Drive.) Saw the only bear and only deer of the day - and no people - on the trudge up the road. Lots of pretty forest, too. And this guy who's done every trail in Shenandoah, most three times or more, hadn't ever walked that road before. Win-win! The FAA facility is now brown, not white, but the shape, which I'd forgotten as well, was almost instantly recognizable when I saw it again. You don't find many things like that in the woods. The summit area is pancake flat and broad; however much machines helped with that - and doesn't look like they did all that much - it's unusual for SNP. Views are mainly straight up; the surrounding fringe of trees combines with the broadness of the ridge to effectively cut off the scenery. But for a Mother-Ship-Has-Landed backcountry experience, hard to beat.
A quirky summit that I'm glad I repeated. Even though it wasn't what I remembered.
Nice views from just below the summit...
I did the Snead Farm Loop on New Year's Eve. It was a really nice day for a hike.