Trail: Massanutten Storybook Trail
Geographic Location: east of
Luray, VA (38.65320, -78.60317)
Length: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: 0/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: July 2013
Overview: A flat out-and-back on paved trail to a fantastic mountaintop overlook.
Park Information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=79259&actid=50
Hike Route Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=211967
Directions to the trailhead: In northern
take I-81 to US 211 (exit 264). Exit and
go east on US 211. Drive US 211 4.4
miles to the top of
and its intersection with Massanutten Mountain Crisman Hollow Road.
Turn left on Crisman
The trailhead for the Massanutten Storybook Trail is 1.5 miles ahead on
the right. There is roadside parking
sufficient to hold 5 to 7 cars.
The hike: Every great storybook starts “once upon a time.” In the case of Massanutten’s storybook, that time came long before any human roamed the earth. True to its name, the Massanutten Storybook Trail uses interpretive signs to tell the story of
’s formation. Even better, this trail ends at one of the
best mountain views in northern Massanutten
Mountain Virginia. You will enjoy this walk yourself, but make
sure you bring your kids on this short, flat, paved trail. In addition to the geology lesson, kids will
love jumping around on the rocks near the overlook provided they do not get too
close to the edge.
|Bridge at trailhead|
The trail departs the right side of the parking area by crossing a wide expensive-looking wooden bridge. At the south side of the bridge, the trail turns to blacktop, and the geology lesson begins. The first interpretive sign talks about the time before the
Appalachian Mountains rose when this
land lied underwater. Later signs take
you on a tour through time as they describe the mountains rising from the sea
and the forces of erosion that still act today.
|Rock outcrop beside trail|
Large rock outcrops make more frequent appearances as you continue along the trail. The soil up here is very thin, allowing only stunted pines and deciduous trees to grow. Just past 0.3 miles, you reach another wooden bridge that looks very similar to the first one.
This second bridge ends at the overlook platform. Looking eastward, the dense trees of the national forest lie directly under you, the town of
sits in the middleground, and ’s Shenandoah
stands in the background. The mountain
to the left is Strickler Knob; it is actually another arm of Blue
Ridge Mountain . Railings protect the overlook itself, but the
nearby rocks have no such protection.
Take care if you or your kids venture out onto the rocks. Massanutten
|View east from overlook|
The Massanutten Storybook Trail ends at the overlook, and there are no other trails exiting this point. Thus, the only option is to turn around and retrace your steps back to the parking area to complete the hike. While you are in the area, the closed
on US 211 atop Massanutten
offers two additional short hiking opportunities. The 0.5 mile one-way Massanutten Wildflower Trail provides a nice walk with 200 feet of elevation loss that
leads to a closed picnic area, while the paved 0.25 mile Massanutten Discovery
Trail provides a short nature trail experience similar to this hike but without
the overlook. Whatever you choose, make
the most of your time atop Massanutten Mountain . Massanutten