Scouting Report: Riprap Trail


Sunset, rock outcropping, Riprap Trail, Shenandoah National Park

Riprap is an apt name for this trail, at least the 2 miles of it that I hiked. When you hear the term riprap, like me, you probably have a mental image of the rocks and rubble used to stop erosion along the shorelines of lakes, rivers and the ocean. Well, if you look down while hiking once you turn onto the Riprap Trail from the Appalachian Trail (AT), you will see a lot of rocks and rubble that keep the trail from eroding. No, these rocks and rubble are not the same size as most of the riprap use for erosion control but they are there all the same. It would not be a very difficult hike if the trail was similar to the AT but because of the makeup of the trail it becomes a bit more difficult. You start the trail at the Riprap Trail parking area at mile marker 90.

I was wearing my Oboz Sawtooth hiking shoes and the next day my feet hurt. This is definitely a trail for hiking boots with a sturdy sole. Hiking on fist sized rocks like this was made even more tricky because there was a rather big deluge just before I got there, according to one hiker on the AT. Pointy, wet rocks are not the best for a comfortable hike. I was able to make the 1.6 mile hike with an elevation change of 475 feet to a nice view in 37 minutes. I didn’t stop much because I wanted to get to a view for the sunset. Since it had just rained I didn’t want to get my camera out in the wet. I was soaked with the rain water dripping off the trees by the time I got to the rock outcropping you see above. I believe this is Calvary Rocks but I’m not sure. The distance is about right for Chimney Rock but I did not see the formation that I have seen when looking at other people’s photos from this hike.

The sunset was not that great so I hiked about four tenths of a mile further to another rock outcropping to take a look at the view. This was similar to what I had already seen and it was starting to get dark so I headed back to the car. I was able to make the same time on the return trip as I did hiking in, most of it in the dark. Like I said, this would be a rather easy hike if not for the rocks you are hiking on. At one point on the return trip I could smell what would be best described as a big wet dog but quite a bit more wild. I hadn’t noticed the small on the inbound hike so needless to say I did not stop to investigate. I’ll just think it was a doe and her fawn settling in for a night’s rest rather than a black bear very near the trail checking out the bright light walking quickly past.

Would I do this hike again? Yes, but with sturdy hiking boots and hopefully under dryer conditions.

Best seasons for photos: I think this would have good views for photos in any season. I’d like to go back in all four seasons.

Hike Date: August 31, 2016

Distance: approx. 1.6 miles one way

Elevation Change: +475 feet / -475

Time Needed: 37 minutes one way not including photo time

Facilities: None

Where to start: Riprap Trail parking area at mile marker 90


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