Staunton River Trail to Hoover Camp and Fork Mtn. Relay Tower (Based on September 18, 2013 hike by Ron Singleton, Fredericksburg, Va.

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1 Staunton River Trail to Hoover Camp and Fork Mtn. Relay Tower (Based on September 18, 2013 hike by Ron Singleton, Fredericksburg, Va.) The President's Cabin (The "Brown" House) at Camp Hoover. Sign on back porch of the President's Cabin. The map, below, shows the Rt. 662 parking lot ("A"), where this hike begins. The lot is located approximately three miles west of Wolftown, in Madison County, Va. A combination of trails leads to Camp Hoover, also called the "Rapidan Camp National Historic Landmark" on PATC maps. Total round-trip distance is 14.6 miles for this hike. A side-hike of two miles (shown as E to H, below) can be added for a steep ascent to the top of Fork Mountain where modern-day telecommunications towers are located. F E H G D C B A A to B (Rt. 662 Parking Lot to beginning of Staunton River Trail) mi. B to C (Staunton River Trail to intersection with Jones River Trail and trail to the Jones Mtn. Cabin) mi. C to D (Staunton River Trail to Fork Mtn. Road) mi. D to E (Fork Mtn. Road to The SAG and start of Fork Mtn. Trail) mi. E to F (Fork Mtn. Trail to Laurel Prong Trail) mi. F to G (Laurel Prong Trail to Hoover Camp) mi. Total distance (A to G) from Rt. 662 to Hoover Camp = 7.3 mi. (Round Trip = 14.6 mi.) E to H = 1.0 mi. each way for side trip on Fork Mtn. Road to Relay Tower (Round Trip with hike to Relay Tower = 16.6 mi.) * Driving instructions to the Rt. 662 trailhead parking lot are on the last page, at bottom

2 First trail marker at beginning of Graves Mill Trail Rt. 662 NPS parking lot and trailhead Section A to B (Rt. 662 Parking Lot to beginning of Staunton River Trail) The Rt. 662 parking lot leading into the Shenandoah National Park has space for seven or more cars. The concrete post at the northern end of the lot marks the beginning of the Graves Mill Trail. The trail is well marked and follows the Rapidan River. Thus begins an exceedingly gentle ascent of 0.5 miles to the next post, indicating the beginning of the Staunton River Trail (on left). Trout occasionally can be seen from the Graves Mill Trail in the nearby stream, particularly in the shadows of large rocks. A state fishing license is required. National Park Service signs indicate that "catch and release" rules apply at all times. Rapidan River along Graves Mill Trail Second trail marker (beginning of Staunton River Trail) Section B to C (Staunton River Trail to Intersection with Jones River Trail and Trail to the Jones Mtn. Cabin) The Staunton River Trail begins an ascent of Fork Mountain, a 3,750 ft. peak with relay towers at the summit. On your right is the Staunton River, with spectacular views of small waterfalls and pools seen through the trees. After walking 2.2 miles, the Staunton River Trail intersects with the Jones River Trail (on left). Continue straight ahead on the Staunton River Trail. Small waterfall that can be seen from the Staunton River Trail

3 Helianthus atrorubens Helianthus decapetalus Eupatorium sessilifolium (Sunflower watercolor by Bessie Marshall, 1937) (Thin-leaved Sunflower) (Upland Boneset) Section C to D (Staunton River Trail to Fork Mtn. Road) The Staunton River Trail continues for another 1.9 miles before it intersects with the Fork Mtn. Road, which is used by work vehicles to reach the Relay Towers at the top of the mountain. The trail crosses the Staunton River a couple of times, which may be difficult to ford following a major rainstorm. During times of normal weather, the crossing is relatively simple and will not require water-shoes. The trail is steep and rocky at times, but is clearly marked. Staunton River Trail marker Trail marker indicating Fork Mtn. Road is 1.9 miles ahead Persicaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Smartweed) Persicaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Smartweed)

4 Trail crossing at upper-section of the Staunton River Trail View along Staunton River Trail Section D to E (Fork Mtn. Road to The SAG and start of Fork Mtn. Trail) Fork Mtn. Road intersects with the Staunton River Trail and extends for another 0.8 miles to "The Sag," a dip in the mountain ridge that gives rise to the Staunton River. The gravel surface resembles a mountain fire road and is good for hiking. The forest's canopy is open for much of its length and provides a sunny environment for a wide variety of wildflowers, including Helianthus sunflowers and Eupatoriums. The climb in this section is relatively gentle. "The Sag" is an 0.8 mi. hike on Fork Mtn. Road View of the Fork Mtn. Road and trail marker Impatiens capensis Impatiens capensis Diphasiastrum digitatum (Orange Jewelweed) (Orange Jewelweed) (Club Moss, Running Cedar) Bessie Marshall watercolor

5 Section E to F (Fork Mtn. Trail to Laurel Prong Trail) After hiking O.8 of a mile, the Fork Mtn. Road levels off at "The Sag" and intersects the Fork Mtn. Trail (on left). The elevation at "The Sag" is 3,350 ft. The descent to the Hoover Camp below, which is at 2,500 ft. elevation, represents an elevation change of 750 ft. The Fork Mtn. Trail leads straight ahead, down the western slope of Fork Mountain, and intersects 1.3 miles later with the Laurel Prong Trail. Staunton River Trail marker The Fork Mountain Trail passes large groves of ferns In the spring and summer, wildflowers and undergrowth abound at the beginning of the Fork Mountain Trail At "The Sag" two concrete signposts, within a short distance of each other, appear on the left side of the road. One indicates that the Fork Mtn. Trail leads straight ahead and down Fork Mountain to its intersection with the Laurel Prong Trail, 1.3 miles away. The Jones Mtn. Trail extends to the left and leads to Bear Church Rock, Jones Mtn. Cabin and eventually intersects with the Staunton River Trail. To reach the Hoover Camp, take the Fork Mtn. Trail down the mountain. Jones Mtn. Trail marker Fork Mtn. Trail Marker

6 Lindera benzoin (Spice Bush) (Watercolor by Bessie Marshall, 1937) Lindera benzoin (Spice Bush) Section F to G (Laurel Prong Trail to Hoover Camp) Immediately before reaching the Laurel Prong Trail you hike through some marshy bottomland and step through a couple of small streams. After periods of heavy rain, the area may be difficult to cross without resorting to wearing water-shoes. At the intersection of the Fork Mtn. Trail and the Laurel Prong Trail, turn right to reach the Hoover Camp, located 0.6 mile away. The trail turns into a fire road after a short distance and becomes more distinct the closer you get to the Hoover Camp. Hoover Camp bridge The "Brown House" at Hoover Camp. This was the residence of the President. During the summer, Shenandoah National Park tours of the Hoover Camp are available on designated weekdays and weekends. Advance sign-up is required. You can either ride a Park Service van from the Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows to reach the Hoover Camp for the tours, or hike into the site on your own. Descriptive signs appear throughout the historic site and provide background information on the development of the Presidential Retreat by Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, at the beginning of the President's term in early Sericocarpus asteroides (White-Topped Aster) (Watercolor, right, by Bessie Marshall, 1937)

7 Seed pods on Heracleum maximum (Cow-parsnip) Seven-foot tall stalks on Heracleum maximum (Cow-parsnip) Section E to H (1.0 mi. side trip on Fork Mtn. Road to Relay Tower) After hiking on the Laurel Prong Trail and the Fork Mountain Trail to "The Sag," a two-mile roundtrip side-hike can be taken to the Relay Towers located on the top of Fork Mountain, at an elevation of 3,750 ft. The elevation gain from the Hoover Camp to the Relay Towers is 1,250 ft. The entire side-hike is done on the Fork Mtn. Road, which becomes significantly steeper the last 100 yards. Unfortunately, there are no accessible views from the top of Fork Mountain. Warning signs indicate that those entering the area should stay away from the towers and the fenced sections. Despite these shortcomings, the climb is invigorating and it is interesting to see how the relay towers are positioned on the mountain top. The rough condition of the access road makes visitors wonder how sizeable equipment was transported to the top of the mountain, and how service vehicles negotiate the terrain in bad weather, particularly when covered with ice and snow. The elevation change goes from 925 ft. at Rt. 662 parking lot to 3,750 ft. at top of Fork Mountain at the Relay Tower. View of one of the relay towers Book credit: "With Paintbrush & Shovel: Preserving Virginia's Wildflowers, with watercolors by Bessie Niemeyer Marshall," by Nancy Kober. Published by University of Virginia Press in association with the Petersburg Garden Club, The book features watercolors completed by artist Bessie Marshall in the 1930s as part of a WPA (Work Progress Administration) project. Driving Instructions to the Rt. 662 trailhead parking lot: From Culpeper drive approximately 20 miles south on Rt. 29 and turn right onto Rt. 230 headed to Wolftown, Va. After driving 3.6 miles on Rt. 230, turn right at the Wolftown crossroads onto Rt. 662 headed to Graves Mill, Va. After approximately one mile, take Rt. 662 to the right until it ends a short distance later at the trailhead parking lot. (Set GPS to Wolftown, Va. or Graves Mill, Va. for driving instructions. If driving from the south on Rt. 29, Wolftown is located approximately 24 miles north of Charlottesville.)