June 14, 2016
From a campsite north of Raven Rocks, VA to Econolodge in Bolivar, WV, including a short visit at Blackburn Trail Center.


Crossing the Shenandoah River in the evening on SR 340.


Mountain Laurel fading


Red Toad


Goodbye Virginia! Hello WV

This section of trail is called “The Rollercoaster” because of its quick up and down pattern. Both times I’ve walked this 13-mile stretch I have had strong judgements about that name!

The whole way, I’m grumbling these sentiments: “There’s no coasting whatsoever in the Roller Coaster! Roller coasters are one-way rides. This one has two directions! It would be more accurate to call it Stegasaurus Back Or Rust Saw! Rocks, rocks, rocks make it a diligent dance of danger. Definitely not a roller coaster!!!”

I’m glad we took the .37-mile side trip to the Blackburn Trail Center, a workcenter for the Potomas Appalachian Trail Club. My Atlanta friend, Chickenfeathers, reached it just two days ahead of us. He had sent me a message to be sure to stop in and talk with Trailboss. We obliged. Trailboss answered all our questions  about the Roller Coaster, ending my judgements.

The trail through northern Viriginia, he explained, is a result of quick thinking and bold action to secure the 1,000 ft wide corridor before roads and subdivisions swallowed up the forest in the 1980’s. The trail had been a roadwalk and the roads were getting bigger and wider then, including I-66. Thanks to the AT community, the trail has a remote feeling amidst the developed area.

There was no room for a gently winding trail, so up and down it goes! The name, Roller Coaster, came from a hiker, not the builders. Someone called it that and the name stuck.

A beautiful snack spot in the afternoon, at Buzzard Rocks,  fortified us for our afternoon walk into West Virginia and down the slope to the west side of the Shenandoah River and a comfy bed at Econolodge.

A beautiful 16-mile day!

In joy,

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