Another Trip to Sky Meadows

I love Sky Meadows. Sky Meadows State Park is

Rich in history, this 1,864-acre park has scenic views, rolling pastures and woodlands. Look into a bygone era by touring the Mount Bleak House to see how a middle-class farm family of the 1860s lived. Nature and history programs are offered during the spring, summer and fall. Hiking, picnicking, fishing and primitive hike-in camping for families and groups are favorite activities in this peaceful getaway on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park has 7 miles of bridle trails, 17 miles of hiking trails and a trailhead for the Appalachian Trail.

We headed out there on the 5th of July this year since it was supposed to be less hot than the rest of the weekend. The mountain breezes would be cooler, we thought, and there’d be wineries around when we got done. All things I look for when I decide to climb small mountains.

We decided to take a different trek than we usually do. Not too different, just a bit backwards. (PDF trail map) Instead of heading up the South Ridge trail which, while being pretty constantly uphill, it is a wide smooth trek, we decided to head up the Piedmont Overlook Trail to the North Ridge Trail. These are steeper, narrow, and generally more difficult due to the rock on the trail. The thought was that it was better to be less tired and overheated on this trail that day. I usually love running down the North Ridge at a good clip because it’s just so damn fun, but I was really worried about the heat. Downside of having a dog with a short muzzle is that they’re more prone to overheating. Just a few hundred feet up through open meadow, both Greta and I were like “The hell were we thinking?” Okay, maybe I’m projecting.

Being a weekday and not officially a holiday for most people, there was actually more traffic than I expected, but not enough to scare off all of the wildlife. I spotted this black rat snake right off the path curled up in the hollow of a dead tree.

black rat snake

I didn’t notice how she was covered in mosquitoes until I was editing the picture. Poor thing.

Another water break found a juvenile skink waiting for us to leave his hunting grounds.

juvie skink peeks around a rock, waits for us to leave

But mostly we just sat in the shade and panted or sweated.

Greta lying in the path panting

Got to the intersection with the South Ridge Trail and decided it was time to go downhill. This was much nicer. Could actually concentrate on things around us and do things like spotted Pawpaw trees!


And then we stopped for the view.

Sky Meadows view over valley

Yeah, it’s worth it.

Greta engaged in some classy grass eating.

Greta upside down and on her side, trying to eat grass

The best part of the day is that it was also Greta’s Gotcha Day! This mutt has been waking me up in the morning for 3 years now. Hard to believe. So we took our free wine tasting coupons over to Barrel Oak Winery again to cool off, drink some wine, hang out in dog friendly environs. Greta managed to scam multiple pizza crusts off the softies next to us while I refused to give her more than five or six (many, many) crackers or pieces of cheese. All and all, it was a really nice, if sweaty, day for everyone.