It’s hard to believe, but Jenoa and I have lived in Virginia for over a year. But it’s even harder to believe that in that time we hadn’t explored Shenandoah National Park until today. Since it was our first visit, we didn’t venture too far into the park and chose to take one of the shorter, mellower hikes, Blackrock Summit.

Blackrock Summit has a fascinating history. An informative sign at the trailhead tells visitors how the rocks of Blackrock Summit were once the seabed of the Iapetus Ocean. Before the Blue Ridge mountains, colliding tectonic plates raised the Grenville mountain range. As the collisions abated and the mountain range wore down, the same tectonic plates began to separate, leading to the formation of the Iapetus Ocean. The Appalachian mountains as we have them today are the result of the to-and-fro of those same forces causing the movement of the plates. You can read more about the geological formations in the park here.

The informational signage at the trailhead

Here are some pictures we took at the summit.

Blackrock Summit

Another picture of Blackrock Summit looking at the valley to the northwest below.

Jenoa at Blackrock Summit.

After walking around the summit, we decided to continue on to Blackrock Hut, a tiny, open cabin intended for through-hikers to stay overnight on the Appalachian trail. The saplings formed a nice canopy that lent the trail a sense of enchantment.

Jenoa walking to Blackrock Hut

The trail to Blackrock Hut.

Here’s the hut. It’s nestled in a valley next to a quiet spring. There’s a picnic table, fire pit, and a locker to keep your food safe from roaming bears. The inside of the hut also has some additional bunks for sleeping. It’s meant to be used for just one night, on a first-come first-serve basis.

Blackrock Hut.

On the way back to the trailhead we caught one of the first glimpses of autumn.

Leaves changing color.

We took many breaks, since the walk back from the hut was uphill.

Us stopping on the trail.

After we left, we stopped at the Moorman’s River Overlook. You can see the river in the valley below.

Moorman's River Overlook.

Us at the Moorman's River Overlook.