A Peaceful And Pleasant Hike In The Big Meadows Of Shenandoah National Park.
It’s has been 38 years since I had slept in Big Meadows in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The last time it was in the campground with my baby brother Mike after graduating from law school in nearby Washington D.C. This time I awoke in the quint and comfortable Big Meadows Lodge. It was sunny, windy and a chilly 48 degrees when I left my room and began my morning hike.
Walking past the main lodge, I followed the same trail I did the previous evening.
The pretty golden ragwort growing along the trail glistened in the morning sun.
The songs of birds echoed from the tree tops and I was able to photograph a couple including this American redstart ,
I walked past the campgrounds on my way to the Big Meadows. The lodge and campground are named after this large open area.
The meadow was originally created by Native Americans who hunted here as early as 8000 B.C. They are believed to have used a combination of controlled burning and hand clearing of the underbrush to allow blueberries to grow and attract deer and other wild life they would hunt.
This continued for thousands and, when the first settlors arrived they grazed their cattle and continued to cut and burn the meadows. They then became part of the National Park in the 1930’s.
I planned to walk through the Big Meadows and then hike down to Dark Hollow Falls, which I believe I had hiked when I visited while in law school. When I arrived I saw a group of photographers with long lens in the middle of the meadow.
As I approached I saw they were photographing this deer. I was told that, shortly before I arrived, the photographer club was hiking through the meadow and saw this doe birth a fawn right in front of them! They said, immediately after birth the fawn ran around then came to her mother who cleaned and then nursed her. I am sure there are some amazing photos documenting that event. And I missed it by minutes.
Leaving the doe and photographers I walked through the Big Meadows seeing many birds, mainly song sparrows,
There were also a few wild flowers in bloom such as this wild geranium.
And the meadows were covered with milkweed shoots and other wild flowers that will bloom later in the summer and attract many species of butterflies. I hope one day to get back here when they are in bloom.
I came to the end of the meadow and followed another fern-lined trail into the forest,
Here I found this deer foraging along the trail.
I followed the trail to a fire road. Here I decided to change my plans, Instead of hiking to the Dark Hollow Falls I continued to walk out the fire road.
It was quiet and peaceful on the road. Tall trees provided a canopy of leaves and shade from the morning sun. Birds sang in the trees. And it looked like a good place to see a black bear.
In addition to the lush green leaves of the trees and shrubs there were also many wild flowers blooming along the trail. It was a reflective hike including these daisy fleabane and
There were many birds singing in the tree tops but the only one I was able to photograph was this crow. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike in Big Meadows. Shenandoah National Park Big Meadows June 1 2021,
I walked out on the fire road for about a mile but had to return to check out of my lodge. I wanted to stay another night but no rooms were available.
So I took a low walk back and saw a few deer on the fire road,
and once again crossed the Big Meadows.
I passed this sign which, but I wasn’t fortunate to see any on my hike.
However, after returning to my room, packing up and then as I was checking out of the lodge I did she this bear in the lobby. Hopefully, I will return soon and see some of his wild relatives on my next visit. And hopefully, it won’t be another 38 years until that visit. Here is a link to another gallery with some more photographs from my hike in Big Meadows. Shenandoah National Park morning hike June 1 2021.
“The parks do not belong to one state or to one section…. The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.” Stephen Mather