Archive for the Loudoun Heights Hike Category

Loudoun Heights Cliff

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , on August 20, 2011 by Drogo

Split Rocks Overlook

This is the dominant bluff of rocky cliffs on Loudoun Heights. I consider it my favorite camp site on the mountains around here. Dad took me and friends camping here as young teenagers, just like his Eagle Scout training taught him to do. Just down the trail, is a parking area and Tri-State gas station.

Then it was time to head back home.

END of Journal


Stone Boulder Tower

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , on August 19, 2011 by Drogo

Megalithic Stone Tower on Loudoun Heights

Two giant boulders are vertically stacked on their flat sides. It is possible to climb to the flat top of the top rock, but I would prefer using a ladder. I am agile and strong enough to pull myself up, but a taller person with greater reach would probably have an easier time of it. I have photos from high school when we did get up there.



Mini-bluffs, High & Low Wire Points, and Mythological Ruins

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2011 by Drogo


Individual rock outcroppings overlook the Shenandoah Valley, but the bluffs are obscured by trees in the Summer. These mini-bluffs are giant moss-lichen limestone rocks, following the contour of the mountain-side; as opposed to the larger, more visible bluffs that stick out perpendicular to the mountain-side.

***Chimney Rock and Bald Eagle Nest Enigma

Not this time. This will be another adventure, some other time.


High Wire Point

The highest of two overlook areas where the electrical wires cut across the mountain, High Wire Point has a vista of the harpers ferry valley, and sandy hook to ‘South’ Mountain (north-east).


Low Wire Point

The lower of two overlook areas (but still high) where the electrical wires cut across the mountain, it has a better view of Maryland Heights from the River, canal, on up.


Mythological Ruins

Winding around the north-east mountain top, the path begins to go down towards the Stone Tower and Split Rocks Cliff Overlook. Buried in undergrowth are massive boulders, which look like mythological ruins from a forgotten civilization.



Loudoun Heights Megalith Fort

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2011 by Drogo

Atop the ridge of Loudoun Heights Mountain, VA towards the north-east, on the north side of the ridge overlooking Harpers Ferry, WV; is an amazing structure of boulders. Large boulders form 10′ walls around a 12’x12′ pit on the top of a mountain, resembling the ruins of a lost, ancient rock fortress built by magic; at the very least a unique natural wonder. There was a fern growing in the center of the pit. I shot film from the floor of the fort, 360 degrees around the inside walls; as well as from the outside of it. Rocks from the Citadel flow down the mountain-side for hundreds of feet, and a giant log bridges the lowest base boulders.



Loudoun Mountain Ridge Trail

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , on August 16, 2011 by Drogo

Some of the trees I saw were black walnut, oak, and poplar. There was an undergrowth of pawpaw; and a ground cover of dead leaves (all year), dead wood (all year), ferns, poison ivy, strangle-thorn vines (2 types), wild mint, wild oregano, etc…

Oddly small white limestones run around the base of some tree trunks. Perhaps they were placed there by fairies or humans, or upon growing the tree pushed the ground around it up through the leaves.

Stone ruins of a Civil War fort sit atop Loudoun Heights Ridge Trail, just as they do on Maryland Heights Ridge Trail; but on Loudoun Heights the ruins are smaller and made of smaller stones. I once camped up here in the rain by myself.

Towards the north-east the path is overgrown by pawpaws. After several minutes of pruning, I was able to clear a hole through the foliage. I used finger snapping, and stick whacking on the branches.

Then the Ridge Trail is threatened by strangle-thorn thin-stem vines, and other thorns (raspberry and thick-stem thorns). Strangle-thorns of the thin-stem variety have odd shaped leaves resembling pale-green wild bean vines. The Orange Trail High End Ridge junction is here.



Mountain Top Sign Post

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Drogo

At the top of the mountain

Three AT signs on one brown post. At the top of the mountain, the ground is littered with rocks. Overlooking the Virginia side, there may be felt a breeze on an otherwise still day. Although not a tourist destination, like the Heights’ cliff overlooks, sitting on a rock or log there is reward enough. Also in the Winter there may be a view in both directions.



Camp Clearing (Orange Trail)

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2011 by Drogo

Large Level Camp Clearing

Orange Trail Low End Camp Junction (loop connecting white trail to blue)

Long ago I camped here with friends New Years Eve of Y2K. During the Winter at night you could see through the trees to the Town Lights below. If civilization was going to collapse because of a technology glitch, we wanted to see it happen from a safe distance. It is the same thinking I had after 9/11 because if there are terrorist attacks, the last place you want to be is in population centers.

The clearing is large enough for several tents. There is a fair amount of small rocks and logs around, but it is mostly dirt. One medium sized stone is set above the flat area. The loop for the Orange trail starts running along below the campsite.



Rocky Road Trench

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , , on August 13, 2011 by Drogo

Civil War road, trench, and gutter

It diagonally crosses the Appalachian Trail on Loudoun Heights just up from Chestnut Hill Road. I think it is a trench that doubled as a supply road and canon trail up the mountain, and by default acts like a mountain brook gutter. Also I know there are more recent logging trails on mountains.



Chestnut Hill Road

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , on August 11, 2011 by Drogo

Crossing the Road

Chestnut Hill Road connects Route 340 between the Bridges, to the communities on “the mountain”; wrapping around to Route 9 through Virginia. You have to cross the road to get to the next part of the trail, that’s why I used it as the junction in my story where the soldiers enter the woods to find the outlaws. It is an unpleasant reminder that we are subjects of the industrial machine. Simply crossing a road can get you killed.



Climbing the Hill

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2011 by Drogo

Moss Rock Falls, Outpost Hill

The new bridge construction (a few years back), improved the entry to Loudoun Heights. As I crossed under the bridge, I saw the familiar huge tree stump down by the river, still sitting there like a picnic table. Nettles and raspberry bush thorns plague the massive stone steps up to the plateau. New trees were planted on the plateau, but most have died so it is dominated by meadow plants; and of course big-leaf burr plants line the path so their seeds pods can cling to passing hikers.

A massive stone marks the beginning of Loudoun Heights Trail, like a strange transformer robot in hibernation. The dark grey limestone boulder has horizontal striation, in a suspicious pattern. Next up the trail are fern-topped rocks, moss covered stones, and a cliff of both with a small water-fall mountain stream crossing the path. It once flowed clear, but now it barely flows at a trickle.

After a couple of switch-backs, the trail arrives at a small clearing near the top of Outpost Hill, sometimes used as a campsite. Faeries live on and in this hill, with hidden treasures. Just beyond, along the trail are large trees, and a huge fallen pine log across a brook.



Shenandoah River Bridge

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2011 by Drogo

Crossing the Bridge


The sun was bright on the concrete as I crossed the bridge over the Shenandoah River. Below I could see several people tubing, rafting, and playing down in the river and on the diagonal bands of crossing breaker stones. The wailing whine of vehicles zooming past me, annoyed me but gave me inspiration for the description of River Banshees in my book. The roar of the River reminds me of its power.



Warlock Trail

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2011 by Drogo

Harpers Ferry Appalachian Trail on the hillside

From Upper Town down to Shenandoah Street White Line

Down behind Mather Training Center (NPS), the steep trail head disappears down into the wooded hillside overlooking the Shenandoah River. This is where most of the film “Predator Vs. Harpers Ferry” was shot by locals around 1990. It was also the site where John Brown’s Fort was moved temporarily after the Civil War (Storer College). Like a billy-goat I clamber down the steps and along the path of light brown, tan dirt and pale-shale rocks. Occasional limestone boulders, like the Hermit Cave and other out-croppings, make their usual appearance, overlooking the trail.

* 1994 Winter Photo of the Death Dryad Tree by the Gray Beech Citadel, down from the Fairy Circle

Everything seems to be relatively the same with the Warlock Trail woods, as it was over 20 years ago. When I was a teenager I spent most afternoons for years in those woods. Since then I have secretly kept watch, and helped to maintain the trail as a volunteer steward. Those woods may mean more to me, than anyone else (as far as I know).

Poison Ivy always grows near the bottom of the hill, on the rocky steps; so I did some weeding.



Harpers Ferry

Posted in Loudoun Heights Hike with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2011 by Drogo

Harpers Ferry, WV near the Appalachian Trail Headquarters

At the house, I decided the aspects were ripe for a long hike up the mountain known as Loudoun Heights again. Loudoun Heights, VA was the current setting for a book I was writing at the time in the “Harpers Faerie Magic” series. The temperature had come down from an average of 100 degrees, to 90 degrees. Putting aside chores and projects, there comes a time when one must set out on a day hike. Day hikes can be calming or an adventure, and sometimes both!

It had been years since I had hiked the entire mountain along the top ridge, but I missed it nostalgically. I had many memories from teenage years of camping and hiking all over the mountain with friends. I went through my list of walking sticks, and which ones were available at hand – I decided to go with the bronze poker that Dad and I used for the yard fire-pit. It was cane size for my height, and proved to be sturdy. It also is closer to being a sword than my wooden staves, which was good for combating over-grown foliage on the path; although tall staves have their advantages also (spider webs).

During the hike I saw many animals and insects I expected to see, because I had seen them up there on the mountain before, or at least in the yard. I saw many deer, common birds (crows, turkey-vultures, cardinals, bluejay, etc), a few rare birds (woodpecker and maybe a bird of prey), butterflies, and squirrels. I also saw spiders, gnats, mosquitoes, ticks, flies, bees, hornets, wasps, but luckily no snakes! I walked through 15-20 webs during the course of my hike up and across the mountain, and all of the webs had the same notorious spider handing in the middle. I say notorious, because I have seen them in the woods since elementary school, and because one finally bit me on this hike. I felt that these spiders were not classified properly, so I wrote my own web article on them: White-back Spiny Hermit-Crab Spider. In West Virginia this variety of the Spiny Orb Weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) is distinct from the Southern versions. Hermit-Crab Spiders have become the dominant woodland spider on the Appalachian Trail.

Before Noon I got my gear together. In an empty backpack I put: snack food, water bottle, knife, string, handkerchief, binoculars (light weight), and cell phone (camera + video). My cell phone was lighter weight than my digital camera and certainly my older video cameras, so it was good to have all those features in one; it just meant I had to email each of the files from the phone separately which takes time. Still, the tech is easier to carry, and more affordable to process than 10-20 years ago.

I knew that having those items would help me on my trip, as I set off; and so they did.

NEXT Chapter:  Warlock Trail

Chapters MENU

Loudoun Heights Hike

Posted in Hikes, Loudoun Heights Hike, Walks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2011 by Drogo

Loudoun Heights Mountain, VA

Appalachian Trail Journal

Chapter Menu:

Harpers Ferry

Warlock Trail

Shenandoah River Bridge

Outpost Hill

Chestnut Hill Road

Rocky Trench

Large Level Clearing

Mountain Top Sign Post

Loudoun Ridge Trail

Megalithic Fort

Mini-bluffs, Chimney Rock, Low & High Wire Points, Mythological Ruins

Stone Tower

Loudoun Heights Cliff

* This is a menu table of contents, so click on the chapter you want to read