A quick out, back, and side to side, this hike starts from Compton Gap along the AT: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PA/MD/VA/WV)
and Dickey Ridge Trail
to a volcanic formation of split rocks. From there, the hike heads east to a natural spring.
For the distance, this is a great one to stretch your legs on or combine with the Indian Run Maintenance Hut Service Road
down towards Indian Run Spring Trail
Keep in mind, this water should only be consumed after boiling or treatment.
Parking for this trail can be found at the Compton Gap parking area off of Skyline Drive. Head north, following the white-blazed AT fire road for around a quarter of a mile to the junction with the Dickey Ridge Trail
, on the left, and the Indian Run Maintenance Hut Service Road
, on the right. Turn left onto the Dickey Ridge Trail
and continue for a few hundred yards to Fort Windham Rocks.
Look to the left side of the trail for a large boulder with an upright split through the middle of it. The majority of the rocks are along the right-hand side of the trail, but about a hundred feet from the trail, rising 45 to 50 feet above are more of these volcanic formations.
Look for the deep splits in the rock that show the rapid erosion and weathering. These rocks are all that remains of the cooled Catoctin lava along the summit of Carson Mountain. A short distance from here, in all directions, you can find exposed Pedlar granodiorite.
Head back along the Dickey Ridge Trail
and continue straight across to Indian Run Maintenance Hut Service Road
. This wide service road winds downward to the PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) service hut. Within a grove of locust trees sits the hut that used to be the Indian Run Shelter. Shortly after heading down this trail, turn left onto a side trail on the left that goes 100 yards to the spring. Take in the views and dip your feet in this stunning spring!
From the spring, head back the way you came and eventually turn left onto the AT: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PA/MD/VA/WV)
to return to the parking area.
Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this 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