Exploring Shenandoah National Park on Foot
Turk Mountain makes a great initiation hike for park visitors entering Shenandoah from the southern end. But no matter where you come from, you will not be disappointed by the outstanding views of this rocky mountain summit. The ample reward at trail's end outweighs the effort required to reach Shenandoah's most southwestern peak.
Start your hike at Turk Gap. Cross Skyline Drive from the parking area andbegin descending south on the Appalachian Trail, which immediately enters a stand of pines. Be sure to take the trail to the left once you cross the road. The trail to the right is the Turk Gap Trail. Soon you'll begin to climb and eventually arrive at a trail junction at 0.2 mile. Veer right onto the Turk Mountain Trail and descend to an unnamed gap at 0.5 mile.
The trail climbs the east slope of TurkMountain amid an oak forest and soon enters a rock field. Continue through the rock field and cometo a sharp right turn at mile 1.0. You can scramble onto the rocks to your left for views, but therocks are unstable and the views are better atop the summit. The trail continues to the right, thengoes between some large boulders just before attaining the crest of the mountain.
At the crest, turn right to emerge onto an elevated rock outcrop and the summit of Turk Mountain (2,981 feet) at 1.1 mile. The views, especially to the west, are expansive, due to the talus slope extending far down the west flank of Turk Mountain. Beyond the talus slope is the Shenandoah Valley. On the far side of the valley are the Allegheny Mountains and the George Washington National Forest. Back to the east is Middle Mountain with its radio towers. To the south is Calf Mountain, also with radio towers. To the north is Cool Spring Hollow and the undulating bulk of the park.
Directions: From the Rockfish Gap entrance station take Skyline Drive north for 10.5 miles to Turk Gap parking area (mile 94.1), which will be on your right.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication