Southeast - Skyline Drive Big Meadows Plan
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06-05-08, 05:49 AM
I'm planning a two-day ride on Skyline drive on July 12/13th. I have reservations at Big Meadows Lodge, at about mile 51. Originally I was thinking of parking in Front Royal and riding to the lodge, and then riding back the next day. I wouldn't have any luggage with me or other touring equipment except my credit card :)
Would it make more sense, or give me a better ride to drive to Big Meadows, and do two out-and-backs in different directions each day? I would be able to bring some luggage, have a place to park. This idea is starting to sound a little more appealing.
Interesting question. I biked Skyline last June from Front Royal to Elkwallow and back. I'd like to do Big Meadow one of these days but I'm not yet up to it. I'm not sure where you could leave a car overnight - a lot of people park in the shopping center with the K-Mart or on the side of the road approaching the park entrance, but that's for a day. Driving in would give you a lot more options, including entering the park closer to Big Meadow and visiting other parts of the park to hike if you want a change of pace. OTOH, the admission fee for a bike is a bit less than for a car and that's less gas you'll need to buy. If you drive and then bike, you may want to keep in mind the elevation profile; the descent from just south of Dickey Ridge to the entrance is fun!, but I'd hate to do it knowing I then have to ride back up it to get to dinner, bed, and car.
Be aware that water and food stops on Skyline Drive are limited, so make sure you carry enough with you. I understand that Panorama is now closed, so southbound I think that means there is no water between Elkwallow and Big Meadow.
I'd also ask on the bikewashington Yahoo group and the "pedalers" pptc-related email list on google groups for folks with more current information.
06-06-08, 04:49 AM
Thanks! I like the idea of doing a little hiking too, so I think I will probably drive to the hotel and park there. That would save me having to mail stuff ahead to the hotel for the second day etc.
I'll just keep in mind that it's going to be uphill both days to get back to the hotel :)
I'm going to make a day trip out of Front Royal today. I've never ridden on the Skyline/BRP, and haven't even driven on it for ten years. I'm looking forward to it.
06-06-08, 11:00 AM
Big Meadows Lodge is certainly a nice, central location if you want to partake of a large swath of Skyline Drive. I've done the round trip from Front Royal to Big Meadows, and it's a good workout: around 10,000 feet of climbing over 104-108 miles (depending on where you park in Front Royal). The nice thing about the climbs on Skyline is that none of them are particularly steep (the steepest grade is around 8 percent, if that), though they are long (the initial climb out of Front Royal doesn't really let up for the first 5 miles past the ranger station) - much like western climbs.
As far as water is concerned, it's wise to bring two large bottles and note where refills are available (Elk Wallow is the only place with options other than water between Front Royal and Big Meadows, though there are other water taps along the way). I've done fine on two Polar 28-ounce bottles, refilled along the way, for the r/t to Big Meadow and back - but I'm a strong climber who rides fast, so I might not be the best example. ;)
The nice thing about making Big Meadow your HQ is that you can pack less on the bike, leaving your car and luggage at the lodge. If you were to bike to Big Meadow and stay, you'd need to take along a change of clothes, toiletries, etc., which can be a hassle for some.
06-06-08, 06:29 PM
Thanks for the advice, songfta! I've definitely decided to start at Big Meadows.
Today I did a 75 mile ride starting in Front Royal. Hoo boy! I probably got a little bit over-ambitious for my first time on the drive, but I'm glad I did it. I have a lot more confidence now that I'll be able to do two 75-80 mile rides in a row in a month or so. If I started at Front Royal to Big Meadows I'd be tempted to stop at 50.
I'm neither a strong rider, nor a fast one :) , but I can chug for awhile.
The bugs at Elk Wallow were horrendous! Flies and wasps and gnats and who knows what all. I'm going to have to remember to bring along some bug spray for next time...
Where do you park in Front Royal, by the way? The ranger let me park by the gate (I asked) but I'd rather start outside the park than .4 miles in.
06-07-08, 03:50 PM
Places to park in Front Royal:
- K-Mart plaza
- The entry road before the ranger station (along the shoulder)
- The old Warren County High School
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