|Gimlet Ridge Overlook to Little Hogback Overlook|
MILE 18.4, GIMLET RIDGE OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,675 feet. The view is straight out toward Signal Knob, at the right-hand end of the Massanutten. Farther to the right you can look across the Browntown Valley and the Shenandoah Valley. The sketch shows the right-hand end of the view, beginning just to the right of Browntown. The cliff on South Marshall, shown at the right end of the sketch, has a very worthwhile view, and it's an easy walk from Mile 15.95 on the Drive. (See page 95.)
To your left, the high peak with the radio towers is Hogback, with Gimlet
Ridge descending to the right of it. Gooney Run, which drains the
Browntown Valley, flows away from youpast Browntown and out
through the notch between Dickey Ridge and the last of the three small
hills that enclose the Browntown Valley on the left. These hills, with nearly the same elevation and almost equally spaced, are, from left to right, Round Mountain, Long Mountain, and Buck Mountain.
MILE 18.9, A.T. CROSSING. Elevation 2,805 feet. There's parking space in the grass, on the east side. Distances on the A.T.: North (on the east side of the Drive) it's 1.3 miles to Gravel Springs Gap, Mile 17.6. South (on the west side) it's 0.6 mile to Little Hogback Overlook, Mile 19.7.
MILE 19.0, MOUNT MARSHALL OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,850 feet. The view is wide, and I've used two sketches to show it. The first one shows the left part of the view, from the Marshalls to Harris Hollow, which is a little to the left of straight out from the overlook. The cliffs on both Marshalls provide fine views, and can be easily reached from Mile 15.95.
In the second sketch, the hollow between Jenkins Mountain and Keyser Mountain is locally called Gib Brown Hollow, though I can't find that name on the maps. In both Gib Brown and Harris hollows you can see trees in rows. These are some of the apple orchards for which Rappahannock County is famous.
Geology: Note that The Peak, Wolf Mountain, Jenkins Mountain, and Keyser Mountain, all of which you can see from here, are separated by gaps from the main Blue Ridge. From overlooks farther south you can see that Pignut, Fork Mountain, and Oventop are similarly separated from the main ridge. A fault line passes through the gaps that separate these mountains from the ridge. It was not movement along the fault that caused the separation; but such movement shattered and weakened the rocks, and made them more susceptible to erosion.
History: As I've mentioned, Lord Fairfax kept seignorial rights to several huge estates in this area. One of these was the Manor of Leeds, which consisted of 119,927 acres, including the two peaks of Mount Marshall and lands to the east and north.
Lord Fairfax must have seen the American Revolution coming, for in 1767 he "conveyed" his estates to his nephew, who promptly "conveyed" them back. Thus Fairfax acquired a private title, as well as a seignorial title, to his lands. After the revolution the seignorial title was worthless, but the private title remained valid.
Fairfax died in 1781. His heir later sold the estates to a syndicate of speculators, who divided the land among them. The speculator that got the Manor of Leeds was John Marshall, who was Chief Justice of the United States from 1801 to 1835. The two Mount Marshalls are named for him.
MILE 19.4, KEYSER RUN FIRE ROAD, east side. A.T. access, west side. Hikes. There's a small parking area beside the fire road, a few feet from the Drive. Note: This is the former Jinney Gray fire road. The name was changed in 1980 on the grounds that nobody knows who Jinney Gray was.
Legend: Jinney Gray was a mountain girl who was so friendly that mountain men beat a path to her door. In the late 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps made the path into a road, even though Jinney was no longer there.
Look at the map on page 107, and note that I've given a separate letter of
the alphabet to each trail junction. You're at point "A", at right center of the
map, at one end of a network of trails and roads that offer a dozen or more
different hikes. The best starting point for most of them, I think, is point "L",
at top center of the map. In the discussion of hikes from that point, page
106, is a table giving the distance and climb for each link in the network.
Using the table and the map, you can put together your own hikes. I will
suggest only three that you might start from here.
MILE 19.7, LITTLE HOGBACK OVERLOOK. Elevation 3,035 feet. A.T. access. Short walk to viewpoint. The overlook itself provides a narrow view down the Browntown Valley. At your left, the crest of Hogback Mountain rises above the treetops. The summit of Little Hogback is out of sight in the woods, about 500 feet to your right. The A.T. passes below the overlook, 25 yards beyond the wall. And 25 yards beyond the A.T., the slope drops off steeply into the Browntown Valley.
Access to the A.T. is via a 25-yard trail at the north end of the overlook (that's the right-hand end, as you face the Valley.) Distances on the A.T.: North (straight ahead from the end of the access trail) it's 0.6 mile to the Drive crossing at Mile 18.9. South (a sharp double-back to the left from the end of the access trail) it's 1.2 miles to the Drive crossing at Mile 20.8, at the north end of Hogback Overlook.
The round trip to the viewpoint is a little less than 0.2 mile, with a climb of
about 80 feet. Take the connecting trail at the north end of the overlook and
continue in the same direction on the A.T. to where it makes a sharp right
turn. A side trail goes straight ahead here, fifteen yards to the viewpoint.
The view is straight out through the Browntown Valley to the north end of
the Massanutten. Dickey Ridge ascends to the right; Browntown is in a line
between you and the high point on Dickey Ridge. Hogback is at your left,
with Gimlet Ridge descending from it to the hills that close off the
Browntown Valley on the west.