Sky Meadows Farms is the equestrian section in Sky Meadows on the eastern side of VA17. What many people are not aware of is this area of the park is also accessible to hikers, and has over 7 miles of trails that pass ponds, through fields, and has a beautiful westerly overlook on Lost Mountain.
Stop at the kiosk when entering the park and pay the small entrance fee. Parking is located in the area in front of the barns. Please do not park in the top larger lot as these spaces are reserved for horse trailers.
The trails are not blazed, but each intersection is well marked with trail sign posts. The hike directions here are for a 5.2 mile double loop, but as most trails are interconnecting many combinations of hikes can be made.
Turn right on the Hayfield Trail where it enters another field and soon follows a stream. Notice a bench across the stream at the midpoint, the bench is located above the migratory duck ponds that are not visible from the Hayfield Trail. The bench is accessible from the Old Pasture Trail.
Turn left where the Hayfield Trail ends at the Rolling Meadows Trail, then shortly cross a small stream. The Rolling Meadows Trail will wind thought the upper meadow before passing the southern end of the Lost Mountain Trail. Continue on the Rolling Meadows Trail, pass the Old Pasture Trail, then arrive at the four way intersection of the Lost Mountain Trail and Washington's Ridge Trail.
Note: The hike now continues uphill on the narrower Lost Mountain Trail. If doing this hike in the fall or winter the trail is unblazed and difficult to follow with leaves on the ground.
Follow the Lost Mountain Trail as it enters the woods climbing the ridge. The trail will enter a utility clear cut for 25 yards before re-entering the woods and following the ridge. Pass through several small gullies then head downhill and passing the intersection of the Washington's Ridge Trail.
Shortly after passing the Washington's Ridge Trail arrive back at the intersection of the Rolling Meadows Trail. Turn left and follow the Rolling Meadows Trail, re-crossing the stream, passing the intersection of the Hayfield Trail, then in 0.6 miles arriving back at the beginning of the loop and connector trail to the parking area.
Virginia State Parks, Sky Meadows State Park Guide:
In 1731, James Ball purchased from Lord Fairfax a 7,883-acre tract on the east side of the Blue Ridge, south of Ashby’s Gap. Ball died in 1754, and his land was divided among his daughter and five grandsons. John Edmonds purchased James Ball’s land from one of Ball’s grandsons in 1780. Edmonds then built a 1 1/2. story house, which still stands. He died in 1798, and his land was divided among his five children. Sons Elias and George sold most of their inherited land to Isaac Settle, respected postmaster and tavern-keeper in the nearby village of Paris. In 1812, Isaac Settle built a large brick house and named it “Belle Grove” (located just south of the park) where he and his wife Mary raised three children. In 1842, he sold the Belle Grove farm to his son-in-law Lewis Edmonds, who, a year later, sold 148 acres to Isaac’s son Abner Settle. On his new farm, Abner built the stone portion of what is now the "Mount Bleak” house. By 1850, he had added the frame portion of the house to accommodate himself, wife Mary, their six children, and his father. By 1862, five more children were born to the Settles.
In 1866, because of declining health, Abner Settle sold the Mount Bleak farm to Thomas Glascock. Glascock sold the property in 1868 to George M. Slater, who had been a member of Mosby’s Rangers during the Civil War. Slater and his son owned the farm until they both died in 1923. During the following decades, the land changed hands several times. In 1966 a housing development was planned and the property was divided into 50-acre lots. This scenic area was saved through the actions of Paul Mellon. Virginia State Parks received the 1,132-acre farm as a gift from Mr. Mellon in 1975. After building facilities to accommodate the public, the Commonwealth opened Sky Meadows State Park in 1983.
A 248-acre corridor between the park and U.S. Route 50 containing three miles of the Appalachian Trail was added in 1987.
In 1991, Paul Mellon presented an additional 462-acre tract of land as a gift to the park. The Virginia Outdoor Foundation was active in the acquisition process. The tract, the Lost Mountain Bridle Trail area, contains a parcel of land that was purchased from Lord Fairfax by George Washington. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the land had been farmed by several local families.
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Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Sky Meadows Farms hike:
Reviews For The Sky Meadows Farms Hike (5 Most Recent)
I was dubious of the high "views" rating for a meadow hike, but it really was beautiful. We went mainly to see birds, and we were not disappointed, despite not getting there until late morning. It helped that it was a beautiful day, sunny, but not hot.
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 12, 2014
Wonderful quick day hike just over an hour door-to-door from DC. Nice mix of open meadows and woods, with views of farm fields and some ridges, as well as a section of trail that runs along a cow pasture for a bit. We did a shortened version of the hike by doing just the main Meadows trail combined with the Lost Mountain Trail. Note that following the loop as we did involves a stream crossing that is definitely a wet boots affair after heavy rains. We found a log bridge about 50 yards north of the trail and crossed there.
Bonus: lots of wineries just down the road for post-walk refreshments.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
This was a casual hike through a meadow and some woods. I can understand how there'd be a tick problem in the spring and summer but today was cool enough for them to stay away. Roughly half of the trails cut through tall grass. The hike provided a good view of the valley. It's close to the 'burbs and good for an afternoon. I'll check it out again.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2013
I originally went to hike the Appalachian trail from Sky Meadows, but it was closed for a Strawberry festival. Therefore, I went on the meadow equestrian trails. The signs said watch for ticks and I figured there would be some because it's a horse trail, but there were HUNDREDS. I also discovered I am horribly afraid of them for some reason. Every couple minutes I had to stop to wipe them off my legs and in my hair. There were kids and adults with shorts on so I don't know how they managed. I stripped off my outer clothing after running the rest of the way back and I still found them in my car later! Maybe I will go back sometime to try the Appalachian trail section again, hopefully sans ticks :( They only seemed to be in the meadow sections, however.
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 14, 2013
This was a nice short hike, not too far from DC. I did not have as much of a tick problem as the previous poster noted, although I did have to remove one tick. My wife and I were there between 9 and 11 in the morning on a nice day and we only saw two other hikers and three horseback riders.
The views were nice and the exercise was worth it. I would do this hike again.