|Jenkins Gap to Gravel Springs Gap|
MILE 12.35, JENKINS GAP. Elevation 2,350 feet. A.T. access; Bluff Trail circuit hike. Plenty of parking space in the grass on the west side. An old road that went down the west side of the mountain to Browntown starts here. The first part is now a service road; 80 yards from the Drive is a dirt and gravel storage area on the right. The A.T. is less than 70 yards farther. Beyond the A.T. the road is now a yellow-blazed horse trail, which descends rather steeply to the Park Boundary.
Distances on the A.T., from its junction with the road trace: To the right
(north) it's 2.0 miles to Compton Gap, Mile 10.4. To the left (south) it's 1.7
miles to the Drive crossing at Hogwallow Flats, Mile 14.2.
MILE 12.4, JENKINS GAP OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,355 feet. The gap is named for one of the early settlers. When the Park was created, sixteen families named Jenkins, owning a total of 850 acres, were displaced from this area. Most of them were descended from Timothy Jenkins, who was born about 1735.
From the overlook you have a narrow V-shaped view into the Piedmont. The hollow below the overlook is drained by the Burgess River, which divides just outside the Park boundary and flows off in two different directions. The high point to your left is Compton Peak. If you have binoculars, look a little way down and to the right from the highest point. The rock ledge there is one of the objectives of the Compton Peak hike, page 91.
MILE 12.5, MOUNT MARSHALL TRAIL, east side Hikes. You may park at Jenkins Gap Overlook (Mile 12.4) or on the grassy shoulder beside the Drive, between the overlook and the trail head. The Mount Marshall Trail is a former fire road.
MILE 13.8, HOGWALLOW FLATS OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,665 feet. From here you have a wide view of the Piedmont, which extends 70 miles east to the coastal plain. The small town you see is Flint Hillone of the seven resettlement areas into which mountain people were moved when the Park was created in the 1930's. The high point toward your right is The Peak.
Piedmont is from an Italian word meaning "foothill". It applies to any foothill region, but especially to the plateau between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plainincluding parts of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Waterfalls and rapids occur where rivers cross the fall linethe contact between the rocky, resistant Piedmont and the softer, more easily eroded soils of the coastal plain. A number of major cities were developed along the fall line, for two reasons: first, it was as far inland as ships could navigate; second, the falls served as a source of power.
Most of what you see from the overlook is in Rappahannock County. About a fifth of the county's 274 square miles are within the Park. This is the only county near Washington D.C. that has remained completely rural. Its total population is considerably less than 6,000. It has no railroad, no industry, no mobile homes, and no rural property of less than 25 acres. The residents intend to keep it that way.
MILE 14.2, HOGWALLOW FLATS. Elevation 2,745 feet. A.T. crossing. There's a grassy parking pullout on the west side of the Drive. Distance on the A.T.: North (on the west side) it's 1.6 miles to Jenkins Gap, where an old road leads a short distance to the Drive. South (on the east side) it's 2.1 miles, via the north summit of Mount Marshall, to the Drive crossing between the two Marshalls at Mile 15.95.
MILE 14.9, BROWNTOWN VALLEY OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,890 feet. Drinking fountain (turned off in winter.) To the left of your view is Hogback, with a notch where the Drive crosses it at Hogback Overlook. Descending to the right from Hogback is Gimlet Ridge. The view looks straight out across the Browntown Valley to the Massanutten, with Signal Knob at its right-hand end.
To the right you can see a part of Dickey Ridge. Browntown is visible from the north end of the overlook, near the center of the view.
This overlook, and the Drive for a half mile or more to the south, lie on a shelf formed by one of the many lava flows that now cap the two summits of Mount Marshall.
MILE 15.95, A.T. CROSSING. Elevation 3,075 feet. Hikes to both peaks of Mount Marshall, with a pleasant view from each. Distances on the A.T.: North (on the east side) it's 2.1 miles to the Drive crossing at Hogwallow Flats, Mile 14.2. South (on the west side) it's 1.6 miles to the Drive crossing in Gravel Springs Gap, Mile 17.6. A paved parking area is on the east side of the Drive.
MILE 17.1, RANGE VIEW OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,810 feet. Unless it's a very hazy day, be sure to stop here; this overlook is the superstar of the North Section. Toward the south-southwest you're looking lengthwise down the Blue Ridge, all the way to Stony Man, fourteen miles away. The sketch shows only about half the view. To the right of Pass Mountain, and considerably nearer, you can see Skyline Drive at Mount Marshall Overlook. Farther right, the high point with the radio towers is Hogback, from which Gimlet Ridge descends to the right. Beyond Gimlet Ridge you can see two ridges of the Massanutten and, sometimes, the Alleghenies far beyond.
MILE 17.6, GRAVEL SPRINGS GAP. Elevation 2,665 feet. Hikes: A. T. crossing. There's a paved parking area on the east side of the Drive. Distances on the AT.: North (on the west side of the Drive) it's 1.6 miles to the Drive crossing at Mile 15.95, on the saddle between the two peaks of Mount Marshall. South (on the east side) it's 1.3 miles to the Drive crossing at Mile 18.9.
The old Browntown-Harris Hollow Road crossed the mountain here. On
the west side it's now yellow-blazed and classified as a horse trail. On the
east it's used as the service road for Gravel Springs Hut.
I will outline three hikes that you might take from here. See map above.
You're near the upper left corner of the map.