Third Virginia Summer Hike of 2021: Humpback Rocks Loop via the Appalachian Trail, Logged 4.6 miles

Today was a perfect, absolutely blissful, day for a hike. I was craving the backwoods after an off-week. Luckily, the humidity nearly dissipated after thunderstorms in the region yesterday, and it was breezy and in the 60s and 70s–almost unheard of in Virginia in the summer.

We started off the Blue Ridge Parkway, on the Humpback Rock Loop Trail, around 9:30 a.m. The trail starts off incredibly steep and rocky. It is actually only 1.3 miles from the trailhead to the outlook, but it is a constant uphill climb with a pretty intense incline.

I always love the little details of the ascent to the summit or overlook, as well as on the descent down the mountain. Though I am usually trying to minimize my breathing (and this incline had my heart working overtime!), and had to stop just to take sips of water, I continually told myself not just to look to the ground to watch my step for snakes, etc. So I was looking down for my step and then up at the beauty of the view around me. Hiking the backwoods always is an exercise in multitasking and awareness. My friend was so good at paying attention to our surroundings and finding all these little details and colors:

Surprisingly, despite the tough uphill climb to the outlook, it was relatively quick. The longer portion of the loop is on the back end, going north on the Appalachian Trail for about 3 miles before sectioning off to our parking spot.

At the overlook we climbed the jagged rocks to their edge and watched the hawks flying in and out.

The descent hike on the AT was pretty quiet (we only saw a couple of people). Most must have gone out and back on the front side. I’m glad for the switchbacks on the AT for the way down, because it was just really peaceful and not heavily trafficked. We made it back to the trailhead just after noon. Miles logged thus far for 2021: 30. Miles logged for just this summer by the third week of June: 24 (and counting!)

Next week I’m looking up hikes to do with my family. They will be shorter, but great views or waterfalls most likely back in the Shenandoah. Stay tuned!

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