The Other Shenandoah
All was dry the next morning while passing over Pass Mountain to eventually reach Neighbor Mountain Trail. We diverged onto this quiet trail, grassy in places, and abloom with mountain laurel. Bare trunks showed damage from gypsy moths that had ravaged many trees. The moths were accidentally introduced into the northeastern United States from Europe in 1869. They reached Shenandoah National Park in 1983. One tree spared from the moths is white birch. Lucky hikers will spot the pale trunks of white birch trees, growing near their absolute southerly limit here on Neighbor Mountain.
From the peak of The Neighbor, the trail switch-backed steeply down to Jeremys Run. Here we made camp, and once again broke out the fishing rods. Large sycamore-shaded pools lay near old stone walls. Former homesites are now grown over in white pine. A sense of solitude hung over the valley.
Our final full day in Shenandoah was challenging. John and I started up Jeremys Run, with its many fords, to reach the Knob Mountain Cutoff Trail and then Knob Mountain, only to drop down to Heiskell Hollow and more solitude among large oaks growing over a rocky forest floor. Beecher Ridge stood between us and Overall Run, our destination. We climbed through piney woods, left open from an old forest fire, to reach the ridgeline. A connector trail dropped down to Overall Run. From here, John and I cruised through former fields and rock walls to reach Lower Overall Falls, and an excellent swimming hole, with its rock outcrop and big pool. We lazed away the afternoon, taking in the ambiance of this mountain land.
Our departure route headed up Overall Run, an exceptionally steep trail that rises to a high outcrop and a fantastic view of Overall Run Falls, a 93-foot drop and the park's highest cascade. Below was the chasm of Overall Run Canyon. Massanutten Mountain held the foreground and the Alleghenies formed the backdrop of this ultra scenic vista. Beyond Overall Run Falls was Twin Falls, a much smaller drop at 29 feet. From here, the Overall Run Trail led to the AT, which offered one more overlook, from the top of Sugarloaf. Here, westward ridges faded into the distance. Just a half-mile farther was Skyline Drive and John's car and the end of the trip.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication