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. Also make sure to check out the many events the park has to offer. From astronomy, to hikes and camp outs, Sky Meadows has something for everyone!
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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Reviews For The Sky Meadows Farms Hike (5 Most Recent)
I think this hike is more properly called Sky Meadows State Park -- Lost Mountain, to distinguish it from what I call the main portion of the park, Sky Meadows State Park -- Blue Ridge. It's all Sky Meadows State Park. There are other sections of the park, too, including Turner Pond. See the park trail guide for more details: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/document/data/trail-guide-skymeadows.pdf
Anyway, this is a very nice hike, A great shorter high of lower intensity, that can be made shorter. I had some pleasant chats with equestrians. They say they appreciate hikers making a little noise if they notice horses approaching so the horses are not spooked by suddenly encountering hikers. The hike is through a mix of meadow and forest with great views of the Blue Ridge portion of the park. If you're lucky you will run into one of the exceptional rangers as I did, and greatly increase your knowledge of the area. There is an admission fee for the park ($4 during weekdays as of this writing -- $5 weekends), but that is for the whole park so when you are done with this you can explore the other areas including the visitor center, where you'll find restrooms, water, and a Pepsi machine (it's out of sight in one of the storage buildings). And, of course, more trails as your time permits.
Date of Hike: Monday, September 05, 2016
Great hike! Took a few beginners and they had no issues. The park ranger was VERY helpful (Thank you, Katie). Cost to park was $5. As it was Labor Day Weekend, it was busy, but not crazy.
Definitely check in at the Visitor's Center & small store. The ranger will help you find the best hike for your group. In our case, she switched things slightly, so we could enjoy shade on the uphill.
The trails are very well maintained. At each intersection, not only are there very clear signs with mileage, but commonly nice benches to relax.
Bring a camera as there are some great view.s
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 12, 2015
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.