Moormans River, Turk Mountain, Little Calf Summit (1/25/12)

Moormans River (3 Miles / 340 Feet)

It was a chilly January morning when I headed out to Shenandoah to hike some trails.  I passed the reservoir and the blacktop disappeared and became smooth dirt.

The smooth dirt road disappeared about a half of a mile before the parking lot.  The road was filled with rocks and icy mud puddles.  I finally made it to my destination and prepared for my three mile hike.  I put on several extra layers since it was 32 degrees.The trail began as rocky as the road.  The trail turned to cross Moormans River a short distance from the parking lot.  I noticed the absence of a large number of rocks suitable for crossing the river.  One foot became drenched as I tried to cross on the small rocks that were there.A very short distance up the trail was another crossing.  This crossing had even less rocks.  I decided it was better to make my way upstream on the opposite bank.  This proved to be quite difficult due to the rock topography so I searched for a place where I could cross.  I found a nice group of rocks and attempted my crossing.  I stepped on the smallest and wettest rock that was in the middle of the river only to discover that the rock was ice covered.  Into the river I fell.  I worked my way back over to the river bank I had come from and followed the river until I found a second set of rocks.  This rocks were bigger and, more importantly, dry.  I maneuvered my way across only to discover that the path crossed the river 20 feet upstream.  Back across the same rocks I went.

I got back on the path, now on my side of the river, and followed it to Big Branch Falls.  Big Branch Falls were pretty impressive.  The trail led to a large boulder at the base of the falls, giving me an unobstructed view of the falls.  The hike back took longer than expected, but I was able to find several placed to cross the river without getting wet. 

Turk Mountain (2.2 Miles / 560 Feet)

The hike to Turk Mountain is listed as fairly easy, but that is not entirely accurate.  The net elevation change is not very great, but the total elevation changes is much more significant.  A pretty good view can be seen just before reaching the summit.  A field of boulders lie next the path and a easy climb onto the rocks yields significant views.The boulder strewn summit yields even better views.  The Shenandoah Valley stretches out to the west while views of Skyline drive can be seen to the east. 

Little Calf Summit (1 Mile / 360 Feet)

Cars parked in a large lot at Beagle Gap made me wonder what is going on there.  So I stopped on my way back from Turk Mountain (and this time no cars there).  I started off through the meadow  when the trail entered a wooded area.  Once in the wooded area, the trail became extremely steep.  About a half mile later I emerged in another meadow with many views.  A sign notified me that this was Little Calf Summit (apparently there is the actual summit a little bit further away). The wind picked up making the 47 degree day feel like 30 degrees.  After taking the necessary photos, I headed back to the car.

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