Features: Fall Colors — Views
Family Friendly: A short loop with many interesting facts and places to explore along the way.
There is a box at the trailhead where you can get a printed guide for a modest donation. The theme of the trail is succession - the gradual change from pastureland to mature forest. The trail begins at the edge of Skyline Drive, 20 yards north of the road that goes uphill to the campground.
A hundred yards from the road, the trail forks. Keep to the right; you'll be returning down the left-hand trail. Near the Loft Mountain summit, the Frazier Discovery Trail joins the AT. Turn left, and look for a small side trail on the left. It goes 25 yards to a cliff with a view. To your left, you can see buildings in the campground on Big Flat Mountain. Straight ahead is the Big Run watershed. From the mouth of the hollow, the Rockytop ridge rises to the left, and Brown Mountain, with cliffs and talus slopes, rises to the right.Straight ahead is the Big Run watershed. From the mouth of the hollow, the Rockytop ridge rises to the left, and Brown Mountain, with cliffs and talus slopes, rises to the right. To the far right, on the east side of the Blue Ridge, is part of the Ivy Creek watershed.
Return to the trail and continue on the loop. After 0.1 mile, turn left and take the Frazier Discovery Trail away from the AT. Watch for a miniature natural amphitheater under an overhanging ledge. Except in dry weather, water drips from the ledge, and there's a tiny pool of water at its base. A few yards beyond the amphitheater look for the remains of an old chestnut log to the left of the trail. If you look carefully at the far end of it, you can see a groove around it. This was the result of "deadening," in which trees were girdled to kill them so that light could reach the ground and grass could grow. The loop ends when you get back to the fork in the trail.
Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this trail description. If you’re interested in learning more details about great hikes, weather, camping / lodging, wildlife, and scenic drives, check out the comprehensive Guide to Shenandoah National Park