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Hiker Comments for the Hawksbill Franklin Cliffs Hike - 1 to 35 of 35   
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I checked out the hike for the foliage in mid October in 2019. It was still in the very early stages with some a little red here and there, but mostly green with a hit of yellow coming in. I enjoyed the Franklin Cliff section of the AT, though Hawksbill Mountain might had the better view. It was very busy on a weekday afternoon at Hawksbill summit. The Big Meadows Horse Trail was just a connector and a boring one at that in the green tunnels of VA. If solitude is what you are looking for, then you'll have it. The creeks were also dry since it has a been a dry month proceeding my hike. See my detailed report at:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 23, 2018
My wife and I did The Hawksbill Franklin Cliffs Hike yesterday. A very enjoyable hike! The route is great, and the vista from Hawksbill is astonishing. We did have an issue with ice on the trail, particularly on the last mile as you descend from the Hawksbill summit down to the parking area. The grade is slightly steep at times, and the trail was covered in super slippery ice. It was a bit tedious and made for very slow going, but overall it was an excellent hike and highly recommended. Thanks hiking upward!

By: Jamey Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 26, 2018
This was a fantastic hike in several inches of snow, and it would be even better when the woods are green. I started at the Upper Hawksbill parking area. The woods along Big Meadow are pretty and the beginning stretch on the AT, with the views, cliffs, and mountain laurel, is beautiful. There was one set of boot prints for the first mile or so on Big Meadow, I broke trail to the junction with Rose River, and there were two sets of boot prints on the AT. This was a good workout with all the ups and downs. The snow made it a lot tougher than it normally would be, so I was glad I cut off a mile or so from this site's route. This was a great hike! Ignore the negative comments in some reviews (no, they're not the greatest vistas in SNP, but they're still amazing if you don't like rocks, take a stroll in a city park if you don't want to hear a few cars, don't choose a hike that's near Skyline Drive). The only people I saw were a guy who walked down from Skyline Drive to see the Rock Spring hut (which he somehow missed, despite the cement post and obvious path) and about 10 parking lot tourists at the summit.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 28, 2017
Pros: Excellent views, not as crowded or rugged as Old Rag.

Cons: Much more difficult than the 3 that was advertised, $25 fee for Shenendoah Valley

FYI, we did the shortened version, starting at the Upper Hawksbill parking lot--which cutoff about a mile from the trail (our total was about 7.5 miles). Weather was a nice 60 degrees, although its pretty windy when you get to the top. Getting to the Hawksbill Summit is strenuous, but terribly not difficult. The trail from Hawskbill to the other Franklin Cliffs overlook was rocky, but mainly downhill (In case you need it, you will have decent cell phone coverage for this part of the trail).

The most challenging part of the trail was the last Big Meadows Horse Trail. Trail starts off easy, but gets progressively steeper and rockier as it goes. The name is somewhat deceptive, as the trail is really not smooth enough for horses. Be advised, the last two kilometers of the trail is uphill, making the end of the hike the most challenging.

Good hike overall, but the difficulty should be at least a 4.

By: Mike Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 17, 2017
Pros: Great hike with beautiful views. The trail is well marked with interesting things to see between overlooks.

Cons: The summit is very crowded. On the day I hiked there was a religious service being held at the summit. Having 40+ people packed into a small area and basically commandeering a public park attraction for their own use was kind of infuriating. Getting the stink-eye for having the audacity to approach the summit area while their service was taking place didn't help my frustration level any. However, their singing wasn't terrible if a bit pitchy.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 6, 2017
Anytime you get a 70 degree sunny day in August, it is a blessing. And I counted my blessing. I hiked this clockwise, but started from Fishers Gap parking area at the southern end (MP 49.5). I'm really glad I started there as it put us at Hawksbill in time for a nice lunch mid way through hike. Franklin Cliffs are great, take your time and enjoy it. Hike up Hawksbill Mtn was relatively easy. Hike back on Meadows Horse Trail was a nice walk in the forest, saw a bear, some beautiful wildflowers, and nobody else, which was amazing on a beautiful Sunday in August. Saw no signs that anyone has ridden a horse out here in months. Frankly, there are some steeper, rocky parts I'd be afraid to take a horse. Trail was a bit overgrown in places, but I'm not complaining. Still a nice walk in the woods. My GPS said the distance was 8.2 miles (not 9.2 miles) and we hiked it in 3 1/2 hours plus a little more than a half hour on Hawkskbill, just over 4 hours all together. Enjoy it!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 6, 2017
Just a clarification on my review below. My distance was 8.2 miles rather than 9.2 miles because I hiked down to the UPPER Hawksbill Parking Area while the description refers to the Lower Hawksbill Parking Area. From their map, what doesn't show is a trail from the top of Hawksbill to the parking area further south. You'll see a blue dotted trail that goes to this parking area and then cuts across Skyline to the horse trail. Unless you just want a longer walk in the woods on the horse trail, I'll recommend this way which is one mile shorter.

By: Olivia Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 15, 2017
This hike was great! I went on a nice day in May.

Although the first part of the hike was just a, "walk in the woods," there were a lot of wildflowers, and when I did it I had two bear encounters.

The outlooks are absolutely gorgeous. The last mile or so down from the summit is pretty steep and rocky. I was glad to take this route because the elevation climb is a bit more gradual.

Otherwise, pretty smooth hike overall. Encountered nobody until the cross of the Rose River on the Big Meadow Trail, and then had a few encounters after crossing Skyline Drive on the Appalachian Trail. Lots of people at the summit.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 22, 2016
Nice loop hike on the slightly longer end (FWIW, my GPS read 8.3 vice the listed distance). Nothing too steep or rocky, gain comes over a pretty good distance. If you're willing to bushwack a bit, you can also cut the corner on the Horse Trail down to Rose River falls (did so on a previous loop), and cut some distance at the cost of some additional gain.

Good day for this on balance - didn't see anyone else until I hit the Hawksbill Trail. As noted below, some deadfall but nothing too bad. . .also several sections with deeper leaves, so a need to step carefully for rocks.

By: Mike H Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 3, 2016
The description for this hike says that the first half of the circuit is a forest walk, and that is perfectly accurate. The first half is very unremarkable and in truth rather boring. There are no vistas or stream crossings, just a walk in the woods with some uphills and downhills mixed in. But the first half of the circuit exists to deposit you near the Fishers Gap / Franklin Cliff area. The second half of the circuit along Franklin Cliffs is mostly ridge hiking with spectacular views to the west and north the entire way, eventually reaching the Byrd's Nest shelter and observation deck. From the Hawksbill Gap parking lot, one could simply hike uphill one fairly strenuous mile to reach the Byrd's Nest and reach the same climax as the full circuit however, doing the hike this way would cut out the views along the Franklin Cliffs part of the trail. The observation deck gets a lot of foot traffic, mostly from folks who do the much shorter hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 27, 2016
We hiked the circuit as described here, taking the bridle trail south, the AT north, and finishing up and over Hawksbill.

I enjoyed this not terribly strenuous hikes. I read complaints about rocks on the bridle trail from some reviewers, but they're about the same rocks you'll find on the AT in this section, and are nothing compared to the rocks we've been hiking on lately over in GWNF, which we have foregone now during hunting season. There was a lot of new deadfall on the bridle trail clearly not much used since the big storm two weekends ago.

Enjoyed the stroll through the woods south, more so now that there are no leaves on the trees than in the summer. No wildlife on the bridle trail though we have seen bear before here. The return leg along the AT has view after view in the Franklin Cliffs area and was a great spot for lunch. If you wanted to do shorter hike with all of the view and none of the bridle trail walking, you could start at the Red Gate Fire Road and take the AT north to Hawksbill and return by retracing your steps.

From the AT, the climb up Hawksbill on the Salamander Trail was really easy the trail down to the Lower Hawksbill parking lot is much steeper. We didn't encounter any other people all day until just before the Salamander Trail-AT junction. Up at the top, there were a dozen people some most inappropriately shod and clad, all either come directly up from one of the two parking lots or having made the short loop trail around from the north on the AT.

Really the only downside to this hike is the continued proximity to Skyline Drive and its vehicular traffic.

The views up top are glorious, especially of Old Rag. Climbing Hawksbill is a must-do hike best done in the late fall-winter for the spectacular leaf-free views, smaller crowds, and fewer cars zooming by on Skyline Drive.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 10, 2016
I hiked to celebrate the Anniversary of the Marine Corps on this day. Only 2 hours and 30 minutes from Richmond, VA area. Around 10:30 AM I went up the Lower Hawksbill trail from the parking lot on the Skyline Dr. I only had a couple of hours and this was a great short trip maybe a mile total. This allowed for some great time at the top. This path is a little steep and rocky but an easy walk/climb. I only saw a few people on this trail. The view at the top is one of my favorites. My favorite view is Spy Rock for the 360 viewing perspective. Great weather yesterday around 65 degrees and windy at the summit. There were many people at the summit but most came up the Upper Hawksbill trail. HIGHLY recommend this for a quick day trip. Great place to have lunch near the shelter.

By: Meagan U Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 28, 2016
This is a great hike as ThunderBear said. First 1/2 of hike very shady so that was great, vegetation has grown up along the sides of the path, but beautiful. The 1/2 half along the AT does have great views of the valley. We took a short detour to see the Stone Cabin and Spring (.2 off hike route around mile 7 or so) where we filled up our water bottles and rested in front of the cabin with a great view. Noticed ThunderBear had signed in on the hiker log! Took us 5.5 hours just as predicted we kept a pretty quick pace (but we had an added .4 miles due to the detour to the Spring).

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 27, 2016
*The Hawksbill Summit viewing platform is now open.* I really enjoyed this hike. The views are plentiful and beautiful. I never got tired of them and stopped to soak in the scenery from each one. The only drawback is the proximity to Skyline at times but I only noticed the traffic noise a few times. I would recommend doing this early on a weekend or on a weekday to keep the solitude as high as possible. When I first pulled up to the parking area, I was surprised by how many cars there were, but quickly realized that most are heading straight up to the Hawksbill Summit. Once you get onto the yellow Horse Trail, it's highly unlikely you will see another person until you get to the intersection of the Rose River Loop Trail - loved the solitude. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots for the yellow trail - it's not treacherous, but the footing changes frequently. Once past that, you will be joined by others heading on the AT or up to the Summit. You can't beat the view from the top. I stayed up there for 45 minutes! The 3 difficulty rating is accurate, and the uphills are never really steep. I really liked the change in elevation throughout - great workout. Looking forward to returning in the late fall/winter.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 23, 2016
Have not yet hiked this, but it's second on my list! Just an update that the trails are open, but the observation platform is currently closed for repairs, according to the SNP website. No timeframe for reopening.

By: Nick Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 23, 2016
I wanted to note that right now a section of the trail is closed if you go this way - the side trail that goes up to Hawksbill summit blue blazed trail towards the end of the hike. Kind of stinks but you can just continue on down the App Trail for about a mile and you will get back to the Hawksbill Gap/Cedar Run parking lot. Not sure how long this will be closed as I can't really find any info saying it is closed currently.

By: Mac Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 1, 2016
There's an "alerts" notice on the main SNP page detailing trail closures. The trail should re open on April 30.

Upper Hawksbill Parking Lot, Upper Hawksbill Trail, Salamander Trail, Lower Hawksbill Trail, Byrds Nest 2 Shelter, Hawksbill Observation Platform and the summit area of Hawksbill Mountain will be closed Wednesday, April 20 through Friday, April 22 and Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29

By: Ellen and Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 26, 2016
Dear people coming from Skyline Drive at the base of Hawksbill Summit, looking for Big Meadows. As soon as you start on the trail down from Skyline Drive, you will see a concrete post with an aluminum band around it. Embossed on the aluminum band are the names of the trails and arrows pointing in the direction of each trail. The turn-off for Big Meadows is there, at that concrete post. To your right. Straight ahead is Cedar Run. If you are looking for Big Meadows, turn right.

Those concrete posts with aluminum bands are a standard form of trail marking in the Shenandoah National Park.


The hikers on Cedar Run

By: Margaret Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 9, 2015
Did this yesterday.  It's a nice hike, and certainly a worthwhile way to spend a day.  Not my absolute favorite, though.  The horse trail portion is kind of monotonous, and the trail is a bit treacherous so you'll spend some of your time looking where you're putting your feet.  I found it slippery, though my boots are admittedly not great on rocks.  Actually, since it probably affected my experience of this hike, I should mention that it was the final straw that has convinced me I need to buy new boots I've had mine for 10 years and there's just not enough room in the toe box anymore. 

Anyway, other than that, it was pretty but eerily devoid of wildlife.  I saw one squirrel for the first half of the hike, which may be because of proximity to the Drive, but I saw some other squirrels, birds, and chipmunks on the AT coming back, which is closer to Skyline Drive.  Anyhow, the first half of the hike is pretty woods with a few brief patches of meadow.  Pretty average scenery, although in winter I bet you get some great views.

The AT side is nicer - better trail, more variation in scenery, and of course some spectacular vistas.  The Hawksbill summit, though annoyingly crowded with energetic, fresh-faced tourists in totally impractical shoes, does give you that vertiginous feeling of being on top of the world.  I arrived there just in time to see a fog bank swallow the view.  It was pretty spectacular to watch.  I had a nice spotting of a pileated woodpecker, some towhees, and a really cute chipmunk.  Coming down from the summit was the worst - but that's totally my hiking boot issues.  It's a steep grade and loose gravel, and if your toe box is a little too small... well, ow.  Still, a nice day in the woods all told.  I do think it's worth considering doing the Hawksbill summit first, and hiking this backward - it seems like that would split the climb a bit. 

By: Upward and Onward Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 30, 2015
By far the most wildlife we have seen in one hike. Most of the hike is shaded which is also very nice. The views are very beautiful. About a mile into the hike we walked by two large deer that came about two feet away from us. We also saw some large birds shortly after that. We saw one small and timid bear about 5 or 6 miles into the hike that was hiding and then scampered up a tree when it saw us. There were very few people we passed by when we did this hike. Very close to the summit there is a nice view and a hut to enjoy lunch in. The summit has a gorgeous scenic overlook. The summit is only about a mile away from the end of the hike, but the rest is downhill. The rocks were slick from the rain we got during the hike and we slipped several times, so take care at the end of this hike. However, the best part of the day was when we were leaving in the car and spotted a bear cub hanging out at the edge of Skyline Drive. The whole hike took less than 4 hours and we measured it at 8.6 miles. This was definitely one of my favorite hikes!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
Overall a good, easy hike with great views, don't let the negative reviews deter you. I'm not sure why people do not think the views from this hike are amazing, the 270-panorama from the top of Hawksbill Mountain Summit is absolutely beautiful, with views of Old Rag and the surrounding area.

The hike itself is pretty easy for a 9-mile hike, the first half of the hike is just another walk in the woods, while the second half (on the AT), is vista-after-vista looking west. No part of the hike was particularly difficult or exciting. We followed the Hiking Upward directions exactly and without difficulty.

So why only 3-stars? First, this hike suffers from vista overload. After a few, beautiful westerly vistas, you actually start taking them for granted, making the 270-panorama from the top of Hawksbill Mountain less dramatic.

But the main issue for me is the proximity of this hike to Skyline drive and parking lots. You are walking along Skyline drive for a good part of this hike and there are large parking lots at multiple spots. The summit of Hawksbill Mountain is accessible by an easy <1 mile walk from a parking lot, so at the summit of your 9-mile hike, you'll be joined by a bunch of people in jeans and sandals who just walked out of their car. This diminishes your feeling of accomplishment, and for me, that bumps the rating down to 3-stars, from what could have been a 4-5 star hike.

On a bright note, its proximity to Skyland Resort gives you a great place to go and grab a celebratory drink afterwards. We enjoyed our day on this hike and having some drinks/snacks at Skyland afterwards (as did our dog), but not sure we'll be back very often. (Which is in contrast to Old Rag, which I've done numerous times.)

By: Herb Wilburn Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Don't let the "lousy view" reviews keep you from this hike. It's a nice walk, not too strenuous, and the views (when you get to them) are actually pretty nice. I think it's a good summer hike, as it keeps pretty cool due to the leaf cover. I saw a bear about halfway to Rose River, always a treat. The final view from the Hawksbill lookout is really something to see, a clear day would be spectacular there.

By: Sanh Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 2, 2014
We were disappointed by the views on this hike. With the rating of 6, we had high expectations. I would not rate this hike as a 6 for views - the views don't come close to old rag, strickler knob, spy rock, or even humpback rocks for that matter. They are also all pretty typical of what you can see from viewpoints along skyline drive. The other thing that was kind of annoying is that the hike is close to skyline drive most of the time, so you can hear car traffic for much of the hike. Also, we noticed that most of the viewpoints - of old rag, to the west, and from hawksbill summit - are each very close to parking areas (between 0.1 and 0.8 miles from parking for each one), so there wasn't that much sense of accomplishment or reward - you can easily reach these viewpoints without doing the full loop hike listed here. The rest of the hike is a tunnel of trees and not particularly noteworthy. We clocked it at 8.76 miles for the loop, not 9.2. It took us 4 hours including lunch.

By: Jess Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 20, 2014
I was kinda bummed by the views on this hike. I was expecting jaw dropping views because it was rated 6 but I really think they should be rated as a 5. Unfortunately I completely missed the little path off to the right of the parking area and ended up hiking straight up to the lookout instead of doing the loop. From the lookout I tried to do the loop backwards, but missed a turn, and ended up at a different parking lot. By the time I got back up to the summit I was worn out and I hiked back down and went home. Definitely pay attention to the directions or you may end up making the same mistake I did! The trail you're supposed to start out on is very small and tucked away to the right, don't let the main trail you see distract you! Although the views weren't as extensive as I had hoped, they were still beautiful even on an overcast day. Read more about my hike here:

By: Kilandra Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 14, 2014
The first part of this hike is woodland/forest area on a horse trail. For two hours I didn't see another soul. Part of that two hours also had me wondering if any horses had been on that trail in the last year due to the amount of overgrowth and down trees on the trail. No sooner did I cross the last big creek and there were three horse riders passing through. I sure hope they made it through ok! This first part of the hike was quiet without much in the way of views (though the creeks were nice). Once you turn off the horse trail, people seemed to come out of the woodworks. That stops quickly as you enter the AT. There were just a few folks in certain areas of the AT and several spots with nice views. This part of the trail was well maintained, with a nice elevation change and fairly quiet to boot. On the summit trail, there's a super nice rock area to sit down and enjoy the vista. Once you get to the actual summit, there are tons of people. The worst part of the trail was the steep (on rocks) down hill from the summit to the parking area. Good workout overall but the views don't come in until you're close to the end of the hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Overall a very nice hike. Although the initial horse trail is not very exciting, there were a few nice streams and of course fall foliage. The overlooks on the AT are quite nice and the views closer to the summit are also very good. View from the summit is good but not great, I don't know if I would call this a 6. Also every inch of available rock on the summit was occupied by people who walked up from the parking lot, so that's definitely a detractor. Be careful to choose the correct trail back to the parking lot... if you choose the wrong one you will be walking along Skyline Drive to get to the correct one.

By: Sky2lane Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 8, 2013
Great hike. Left at 1230pm. Shady walk through the woods for the first two hours and never saw a soul. Cross the road then more solitude with killer views on the AT. Elevation changes are surprisingly gradual. Crowded at the top as expected. Hardest part was walking down the steep descent to the car in the last .8 miles. Old knees!! Back at 445pm going at a fairly relaxed pace with black lab and wife. The two streams were flowing nicely and I would definitely rate the view a "6" at the top. Add this hike to your list.

By: HN Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The trail was very well maintained.  We also truly appreciate the clear direction.  However, we selected this hike because supposedly the view was comparable to what we saw on Old Rag.  We were greatly disappointed.  I would rate it at 3. 

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This is a "hike"...the horse trail is a good workout...even if it is a tad long and dull...ran into park maintenance a couple of times...logically it finishes upward and flows nicely onto the AT...

The second half is truly worthy of the 6 star rating for views!

As soon as you step out onto the white blazed trail you are in "vista heaven"...roughly three miles later you are at 4,000 feet and the incredible panorama that comes with it..."saving the best for last" is an understatement here as only the mile descent to the parking area is left...and passing most of your fellow "summiteers"...who use this quick but steep way up...rather than the more gratifying three miles of gradual climbing beginning at the foot of Franklin Cliffs...

By: SChaps Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 5, 2013
My husband and I hiked this 9.2 mile loop for the first time on a perfect blue sky, 65 degree day. I would probably increase the level of difficulty to a 4 because of the elevation changes. I'm surprised not more hikers have reviewed this hike.

We've done plenty of hikes in the park and this happens to be one of our favorites. The first part is through a dense wooded trail, a couple of views and a couple of streams. We only passed one person along this trail. The second part is along the ridgeline, going around the mountain. Here is where we ran in to a few more people. We were very surprised by the final summit view which happens to be the highest point in the park (4,050 ft.). The trees are just turning green so it made for a very pleasant view! We'd definitely recommend this hike!

By: Jerry Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
We've done about 40 Hiking Upwards hikes, but this is my first comment. We started from the Upper Hawksbill Parking lot instead of the Hawksbill parking lot. It cut the first dull area off and allowed us to include the Rose River Falls part of the hike. It kept the hike at 9.2 miles. This may increase the difficulty to four when you consider the height elevation from the bottom of the falls, but it is overall a pretty gentle uphill once you get back to Skyline Drive. We saw only one other person on this hike. Spectacular Falls. Spectacular Views. Very nice. Thank you, Hiking Upward!

By: Jdog Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 11, 2012
The trail on the eastern side of the parkway is rather dull, with no scenery.  We didn't pass one person on the yellow horse trail, but almost stepped on a 4' Timber Rattlesnake. Next time I do this hike, I'd do it as an out and back, either from Hawksbill, or from the parking lot at the southern end of the listed trail.  The western side hike would rate this as a five star hike if done by itself.

By: Rachel H Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I wish I'd taken the previous reviewer's hike and added in the Rose River loop, but I had limited time and had to omit what would probably have redeemed the first half of the hike for me. The horse trail was unexpectedly rocky and often slippery due to the few inches of snow covering the ground, especially the first mile or two out from the parking lot. I endured it rather than enjoyed it. The AT/Hawksbill Summit miles were, as expected, littered with nice views to reward me for my efforts, but by the point I got to the top I was ready to be done with the whole experience. Maybe it's better in the spring.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 6, 2012
I was looking for a hike with some spectacular views on this cold winter day, and Hawksbill Summit didn't disappoint. Taking a tip from another trusted hiking website, I started at mile marker 49 on the Skyline Drive and headed up (rather then down) the yellow blazed horse trail. I took the detour down the Rose River loop trail and came upon amazing waterfalls and beautiful ice formations. This was probably the best part of the whole hike, aside from the summit views, so I highly recommend it--especially in the winter. Moving on, I made my way up and it was a great workout to the top, though a bit boring. The summit is well traveled and clearly a popular spot- there's even a stone overlook built by the park service. I saw 4 or 5 other hikers that day at a time when I wouldn't expect to see anyone. Winds were high and it was almost 20 degrees cooler up there then down along skyline. The views were as advertised and breathtaking on all sides. All in all, a good hike, but consider adding in the 1 mile Rose River Falls trail for some different scenery.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 20, 1916
We only hiked the Hawksbill portion of this hike (started at Lower Hawksbill Parking lot, went South on the A.T., left turn on the Salamander Trail up to the summit and back down the Lower Hawksbill trail. It is about a 4 miles loop. Most of the A.T. on the Western slope of the mountains was still snow packed and icy in some areas. There was a lot of ice hanging from the rocks above you as you wound your way around Hawksbill. Make sure you take the time to look up and take in the sights, but do that when you stop so you dont slip and slide off the side of a cliff. The Salamader Trail was less snow covered and I did see a few deer tracks (nice to know they stay on the trails and don't destroy the vegitation!LOL) The Byrds Nest 2 shelter was a sheet of ice and it catches a lot of wind with the Western facing opening but it was a nice spot for an early lunch. The trail down (while much shorter than the 3 miles up) was tricky as it is much steeper (decending roughly 700 ft over one mile). Snow and ice on the trail made us take it slow and steady on the way down. Nice hike with two novice hikers on a February Saturday that the temps got up to nearly 70, although when we started out it was in the upper 30's/low 40's.

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