We had heard that Skyline Drive would be closing at noon due to sleet and dropping temps. Nonetheless, we decided to head over to see what kind of hike we could get in. The nice ranger at the gate told us we could park at the Panorama parking lot off of route. 211. This means technically we’d outside of the park when Skyline closed at noon. We started up the steep 1.7 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail to Mary’s Rocks, the elevation gain is 1,210 ft to make this a difficult and crushing start to the hike. Once at the top there is an AT sign post, it’s .01 to Mary’s Rocks, or continue on the AT to Meadow Springs .7 miles away. Staying on the AT it levels out and you can see the back of Mary’s Rocks. There are several overlooks here and the trail meanders nicely along the ridge line. I don’t think any of these overlooks are officially named, though if they are, please do let me know. I can’t find anything on any of the maps I have. Continuing on the trail drops until you reach another AT sign post and Meadow Spring Trail. This will lead to the parking area at Meadow Springs where you can get to Hazel Falls and Cave, my original destination. At this point it started to sleet. The trail was covered in under 15 minutes. The weather turned really quickly, though we were expecting it. I decided to head toward Meadow Springs, but half way down the .5 trail to the parking area, I turned back. We still had another 2 miles back toward Panorama and we were sure what the roads were going to be like when we got down. Overall, I got 6 miles under my belt and it was a fantastic hike. The weather made it really interesting.
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