Hiking Mary's Rock
Mary's Rock is a hike that was recommended to me over a year ago and I just got around to doing it. The hike is located close to the Thornton Gap entrance of Skyline Drive, in Shenandoah National Park. There are two options for this hike. The first is a longer 9 mile hike and you park 0.6 miles outside the SNP boundary and hike up the Buck Hollow Trail to Skyline Drive. The second option (and what we did) is parking in the Meadow Spring parking lot and then catching the trail across the road and hiking up (only 3 miles round trip). When we got to the park it was cloudy but the sun was just beginning to come out and the temperature was around 40 degrees and it felt good once we got our blood pumping. The trail was really icy/snowy in certain sections but we tried our best to stay to either side of the trail where it was mainly snow and not ice. However, there were a few sections where we inevitably had to walk on the ice and we were slipping all around. During our hike up we could hear the wind whipping around above us but it didn't hit us until we got to the top. I have a ton of "blooper" pictures with our hair whipping around and getting in our faces. The view was fantastic. It was almost a 360 degree outlook but it was difficult to see to the south of us. You can see the Thornton Gap entrance below the peak as well as a great view of the mountains to the north and east. After we were done we began our walk down. I always think going downhill with ice and snow is more difficult than going up but the trip down seemed to go by a lot faster. Once we got back down to the parking area it seemed 10 degrees warmer than when we left. Nothing beats a warm day during the winter. I was so happy to see on social media that a ton of other people had taken advantage of the warmer temperatures and gone hiking. While a warm day in the winter is great, I'm absolutely itching for spring when everything is green again!
For more info on Mary's Rock Hike go here. If you're someone who loves hikes with streams/creeks/little cascades/waterfalls I would highly recommend doing the full 9 mile hike because the Buck Hollow Trail runs beside a creek.