Stony Man is a popular place around sunset or anytime of day for that matter. This trail is very near Skyland and an easy hike leading to a spectacular view of the Shenandoah Valley. The ease of the hike and the great view are two contributors to the popularity of this spot. The big draws to Skyland are the dining room, taproom and lodgings. They serve good food and a variety of beverages in both the dining room and taproom. This is one of the few places in the park where you can have a sit down meal and a pint. You might have a hard time finding parking on summer and fall weekends so plan ahead.
As you turn to go to Skyland there is a small parking lot just to your right. This lot is also used as overflow parking for Skyland. Two trails will get you to the summit from this parking lot. The trial at the western end is the Stony Man Horse Trail and the one at the eastern end is the Appalachian Trail which is also part of the Stony Man Nature Trail. Look for the brown post with a box on top. This box contains a brochure for the self guided nature trail ($1 each by the honor system). By starting out on the AT and following the Stony Man Nature Trail, you will arrive at a short trail leading through some trees to the rocks below the summit of Stony Man. This trail to the viewing area is well marked.
Walking through the trees you come to a rocky area where you can see the Shenandoah Valley laid out in front of you. On the right side you can see sections of Skyline Drive and Little Stony Man summit and cliffs. On the left side you can see Skyland. Once you have had your fill of the view and walking around the rocks, follow the trail back through the tree and the nature trail will take you on around the loop leading you back to the AT and then to the parking area. An easy round trip that won’t take you very long to complete.
Hike Date: May 19, 2016
Distance: approx. 1.5 miles round trip
Elevation Change: +315 feet / -315
Time Needed: 45 minutes to an hour not including photo time
Facilities: Skyland (nearby) – food, restrooms, gift shop, lodging.
Where to start: The parking area immediately to the right when turning into Skyland. Look for the brown post with a box on top.