Exploring Shenandoah National Park on Foot

Robertson Mountain
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Robertson Mountain
Scenery: very picturesque
Trail Condition: fairly good
Children: doable for able-bodied children
Difficulty: relatively easy hike
Solitude: expect to encounter only a few people
Distance: 6.2 miles round-trip
Hiking time: 4:00 round-trip
Outstanding Features: great views, big trees
Location: Shenandoah National Park

Reaching the rocky summit is neither difficultnor time-consuming, but most people pass it by to climb nearby Old Rag. Leave Skyline Drive andwalk a portion of the Limberlost Trail, passing through a shady hemlock forest. A little footworkbrings you to the outcrops of Robertson Mountain. There, various rocky points avail sweeping viewsin three directions. The crowds thin out just a short distance from Skyline Drive.

Take the gravelly Limberlost Trail from the parking area and enter a hemlock forest that Skyland Resort founder George Pollock helped protect nearly a century ago. Pass a horse path and Whiteoak Canyon Trail, to intersect the Old Rag Fire Road at 0.4 mile. Turn left onto the road where a sign says, "Horse path, Skyland, Big Meadows." The fire road drops down, crossing Whiteoak Run. As you climb outof the drainage, stay left and look for big hemlocks beside the trail.

Stay on the fire road past two more bridle paths and a ranger station at mile 1.0. Continue down the side of Thorofare Mountain, passing huge oak trees scattered amid the woods. The trail turns sharply to the left and comes to the Corbin Mountain Trail at mile 1.7. Keep descending gently on Old Rag past more big trees.

Pass Corbin Hollow Trail at mile 2.2. Begin looking for the Robertson Mountain Trail just ahead where you will turn left. The footpath enters a laurel thicket, then turns back right.

The real climbing doesn't start for another quarter of a mile, where the path begins to switchback among rocks and trees. At mile 3.1 the trail passes the summit on your right. Look on your right for a spur trail leading to various outcrops. The depths of Whiteoak Canyon are below. Look for the cleared overlooks along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge. The hump of Hawksbill Mountain looms tall to the southwest. Views to the north are a little harder to find, but scout around. Take your time and take it all in; it's great being on top of this mountain.

Directions: From Thornton Gap, take Skyline Drive south for12.5 miles to the Limberlost Trail parking area at milepost 43.0. The parking area is just a shortdistance to the left of Skyline Drive.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 23 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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