This is a very memorable but very rarely done hike. The hike follows a fire road from Loft Mountain Wayside to the AT and then follows the AT along a stream canyon and a ridgetop. Ivy Creek carves a pretty stream canyon with small cascades. The unnamed knob on this hike is a great viewpoint of the Big Run Valley; as it has no name to the extent of my knowledge and is unlabelled on USGS maps, I'll refer to it here as "Ivy Creek Knob." That is certainly not the official name of the small peak. "Ivy Creek Knob" lies on the Blue Ridge crest between Loft Mountain and Weaver Mountain.
I did this hike on a Friday afternoon with a good friend. After making our way through Friday afternoon traffic up Route 29, we entered the park from Swift Run Gap. The drive between Stanardsville and Swift Run Gap was incredible: dogwood and redbud bloomed alongside the road and Swift Run tumbled happily down its newly green hollow.
We decided to head into the South District of the park and began the drive up the bare slopes of Hightop past the Sandy Bottom Overlook. Below us, the Shenandoah Valley was awash in light green, with yellows creeping up Massanutten across the valley. We stopped at most of the overlooks to admire the new spring scenery and so that we could enjoy them one last time before construction starts at many of them.
|Loft Mountain Overlook|
From the intersection, the AT immediately begins descending on the north slope of Loft Mountain. As we descended, spring became more and more apparent: the forest floor was alive with new plant life and insects and some trees in the canopy above us showed the first hints of renewal. Wildflowers were plentiful and included many that I couldn't identify.
|Moss Phlox? Flowers on the AT|
|Ivy Creek Canyon|
|The grassy AT on Ivy Creek Knob|
|Trayfoot Mountain from Ivy Creek Knob|
|Venus above Staunton and Elliot Knob, from Turk Mountain Overlook|