Friday, March 25, 2011

Trail Discovery for Kids

March 2011 Highlighted Hike
Graves Mill Trail
Madison County, Virginia
Hike Information
ü  2.5 miles out and back hike to the second water crossing or 4.2 miles out and back to the trail head at the Rapidan Fire Rd.
ü  Wide trail with easy, gradual elevation gain. There is one hill before the turnaround at the second water crossing. After the second water crossing, the trail gradually gains 200 feet.
ü  Continue straight on the Graves Mill Trail at .5 miles when it intersects the Staunton River Trail.
ü  The trail is not jogging stroller passable due to a stream crossing at .6 miles into the hike.
ü  Driving directions - From Culpeper, go south on U.S. 29 for about 20 miles. South of Madison, turn right at Route 230 West. Follow Route 230 for about four miles to Wolfton. Turn right at SR 662 and follow it to its end at the Shenandoah National Park boundary. Or access the trail from the Rapidan Fire Rd. at the end of Rt. 649 near Syria, Va.
ü  Trail map - no online resource. Purchase PATC Map #10 or see photo.
Age Appropriateness
ü  This hike is best for children five years and older. 
What is fun for kids?
ü  The trail follows the babbling Rapidan River with a few rapids, particularly upstream.
ü  At .75 miles on the trail, there is a great rock beach for a picnic lunch, rock throwing or skipping, and stream play in warmer weather or testing one’s balance on the ice.
ü  At .4 miles on the trail, one of nature’s wonders is on view, beaver’s awe-inspiring engineering. The evidence of two beaver dams and two large lodges is littered on the river banks by the many pencil-pointed tree stumps. Possible opportunities to see the beavers in action are best during a dawn or dusk hike but shhh, beavers are very shy!
ü  At the Rapidan Fire Rd. trail head, there is a great swimming hole.
ü  Try a little catch and release and bring a fishing pole. There are many brown trout in the river.
ü  Two first stream crossings are difficult for children. The stepping stones are adult stride. Waterproof sandals or shoes are a good option.
ü  Popular hiking area. SNP provides twelve parking spots with parking restricted on the road.
ü  There are no bathroom facilities.
ü  Trash free park – pack your garbage out.