Ramble On

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Revisiting SNP's Black Rock

Since I first discovered the Black Rock Summit hike in 2009, it has been one of my favorites in Shenandoah National Park.  At about one mile round trip and less than 200 feet of altitude gain, it's one of the easiest hikes I go on - and I've been back there five or six times.  The experience of this summit seems like such a great reward for such little effort expended.

I've written about the hike a number of times for this blog as well:

The NPS is observing its centennial this year, and it appears that they have made some enhancements to this hike at the trailhead.  There's an interpretive sign about the AT there now, and there is a little activity guide for kids, describing what they will see on the little hike.

The sign at the trailhead was also updated.  It now includes a substantial description of the geology of the place:

"The exposed rocks of Blackrock formed the seabed of the Iapetus Ocean, an ancient body of water that predates the Appalachian Mountains.  The geological forces that created the mountains changed the seabed into solid quartzite rock. ... Blackrock is still changing.  Weathering has caused what was once a cliff to crumble into a talus slope, a river of moving rock.  Water, ice, and roots break the rocks into even smaller pieces that slide downhill.  Eventually the rocks will have settled enough that plants can grow and Blackrock will look like other forested mountainsides."

The old seabed is in evidence elsewhere in the SNP, but you can also catch a glimpse of it in a number of other places in this region:  Massanutten Mountain's Duncan Knob has a very similar geology, as does Seneca Rocks in West Virginia.  There are also fields with large talus features in the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

For Sunday's trip, I decided not to climb the talus slope to the top.  While I was out for a leg stretcher, I really wanted to try out the panoramic feature on my iPhone, so I was looking for some photo opportunities.  Once I've had a look at those I may post them, but for now I selected three scenic photos - one of the talus slope or "river of moving rock" as NPS called it, a second of the little trail that moves off to the northwest towards Trayfoot mountain, and a third of the main summit and talus slope.

All in all a great day - I can't say enough good things about this particular day hike.

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