Friday, November 13, 2020

Blue Ridge Mountains Adventure - Day 3

Today we took a break from accumulating trail miles and played tourist in our home state of Virginia. The first stop: we headed an hour away to Natural Bridge State Park.

I'd heard about Natural Bridge a few years ago, but could never justify the 3+ hour drive to see the famous rock formation. Staying at Wintergreen Resort put us close enough that it was a no brainer.

So, did the bridge live up to the hype? It did. First off, the rock formation is much larger than the pictures I'd seen suggested. There's also a mile-length trail that runs under the bridge which made for a pleasant walk. Because we visisted off season and early in the day we had no crowds to contend with, which surely furthered the quality of the experience.

I'm still not entirely convinced that it's worth taking the 3+ hour drive on a weekend from Northern Virginia, but if you're anywhere in the area, it's a must see.

After Natural Bridge, we made our way to another natural wonder: the Devil's Marbleyard. While far more esoteric, this site definitely deserves your attention if you are in the Natural Bridge area. The Marbleyard is an epic boulder field crying out for your exploration. I'd seen pictures before, and yet, I was impressed as the rock yard came into view after hiking through serene forest. One can't help but wonder how the rocks formed. One hypothesis, which I'm rooting for, is that worms did it.

I hopped around on the boulders like a 6 year taking in a new playground. It was awesome. Before I knew it, it was time to descend the trail back to our car and head back to Wintergreen.

Back in the Wintergreen area, we squeezed in one more sight for the day: Crabtree Falls. I assumed the falls were going to be pretty and all, but after Natural Bridge and Devil's Marbleyard, I figured they would pale in comparison. Apparently I missed the fine print: the falls are the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. In short, they were quite impressive and fit in perfectly with the day's theme of seeing the Wonders of Virginia. I can't believe we were in the area and almost missed seeing them.

After the falls, we made our way to the secluded Bryant's Cidery, where we had the place nearly to ourselves. Bryant specializes in dry ciders, which have the (to me) unintended consequence of containing notably more alcohol than their sweet brethren. The flight of ciders I drank were both tasty and quite disinhibiting.

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