Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA - Into Kim Phillips’s Backyard
5 min read
If you are in the Washington, DC area or Virginia, you should definitely try conquering Skyline! It stretches 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park and is one of my all-time favorite rides.
♡ The Skyline Drive is overlooking the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. The view is stunning all ride long!
♡ The Skyline Drive Scenic Highway is one of the first touring roads ever to be constructed in the world, sitting high upon the spine of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains and running the entire length of park.
♡ The ascension is a very good challenge and the descent is worth the climb!
♡ Many people say it is one of the best places to ride in Virginia and perhaps even on the entire east coast, and I have to agree!
However, this ride is not for the faint at heart. It’s all climbing, climbing and climbing. Though there are occasionally a few descents, there are no rolling hills or flats. This week I did the ride with my 2 girlfriends. This was my third time riding the trail, and as for my 2 friends, it was the first time for one of them and the fourth for the other. When we got to Skyline that morning, we parked our cars outside the Front Royal entrance of the park. There is a small entrance fee to pay upon entering, with many different options to choose from that are all available on the website.
We started our ride at 8:30 in the morning so that we could try and avoid some of the heat and humidity before the sun got too strong. The ride began with a 4 1/2-mile climb to the first rest area, Dickey Ridge with about 1,200 ft of climbing within those first 4 miles.
We climbed for about 16 miles, with a few short descents in between, while stopping at a few of the scenic overlooks to take pictures and get some rest along the way. With the intense heat and the steep climbs, I was beginning to second guess our decision to do the full 24 miles.
This was a hot summer ride so we wore the
If you go all the way to Elkwallow, you get a wonderful 3-mile descent on the way there, but you know what that means...a 3-mile climb on the way back! Once we made it to Hogback Overlook, which was the 20 miles marker, we decided to turn around as we were all very hot and exhausted. Hogback Overlook was the highest elevation of our ride at 3,385 ft. The views from there were beautiful, with just a few clouds over the valley.
It had taken us about 2 hours to go 20-miles to Hogback Overlook and we knew our ride back would be shorter and make all the climbing worthwhile. As we started riding again, to our surprise, we hit a hill! There were a couple of long climbs on the way back but nothing like the climbs on the way out.
Most of the ride back was downhill and absolutely amazing. That 4 1/2-mile climb that started our ride was so much more fun going down, and made the suffering all worth it. The descents are all on gently curved roads, so you feel safe. The ride back took us about 1 hour, so approximately half of the time that it took us riding up. We finished the whole day with a total of 40 miles and 4,500 feet of climbing. A great day on the bike!
Once we had finished the ride,
we changed out of our cycling clothes (Peppermint, of course!) and headed into downtown Front Royal for some much-deserved lunch at PaveMint Taphouse and Grille.
The restaurant was an old gas station that has been converted into a charming dining area. The inside was closed due to the pandemic, but the outside was set up with individual tents with different names and themes. Our tent was called “Co-Chilla”, a play on the Coachella Music Festival, and decorated with old music memorabilia. It was the most creative thing I’ve seen a restaurant do during COVID and much appreciated as we enjoyed our lunch, which was their delicious specialty barbecue. It was the perfect way to end our girls' ride day ♡
Skyline Drive is about 60 miles west of Washington, DC and an hour’s drive from where I live in Herndon, Virginia.
So if you are in the area and you want to overcome the Skyline Drive challenge;
- Park your car here;
- Download the Strava ride and
- Meet at the PaveMint Taphouse for the well-deserved after-ride!