|Two Mile Run Overlook to Rockytop Overlook|
MILE 76.2, TWO MILE RUN OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,770 feet. The sketch shows most of what you can see from here. A graded trail goes to the summit of Rocky Mount from the edge of the Drive a tenth of a mile north of the overlook. (See above.) Diagonally left is Rocky Mountain, with white quartzite cliffs. The sketch shows only the ridge that runs down from it into One Mile Run.
Geology: Looking straight out from the overlook to the far end of Two
Mile Ridge, you can see two tiers of cliffswhite quartzite of the Erwin
formation. The cliffs rise up from the left, level out, and then curve down to
the rightevidence of the deep folding of the earth's crust that occurred
when these mountains were formed. The cliffs are somewhat easier to see
in winter, when the trees are bare.
MILE 76.9, BROWN MOUNTAIN OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,844. Hikes, A
long overlook with a large island and a wide view framed by trees. The
sketch shows the view from the south end of the overlookacross Big Run
to the Rockytop ridge. Rocky Mountain (shown in part at the
edge of the sketch) has two humps, and cliffs and talus of white Erwin quartzite. Farther right is the high point on Two Mile Ridge. Still farther right, and higher, is Rocky Mount. You can't see Brown Mountain from the overlook; it's hidden behind the left-hand end of Rocky Mountain.
Geology: The rocks exposed in the roadcut across the Drive are of the Hampton formation: a coarse-grained quartzite (medium salt-and-pepper gray in a fresh break) and sandstone (finer grained, uniform light gray in a fresh break.)
I will describe two hikes that start here. First, to the top of the talus slope that you can see over there on Rocky Mountain, and return by the same route. Second, a rather strenuous circuit hike to Big Run Portal via the Brown Mountain trail, returning via the Big Run Portal trail.
NOTE: In May of 1986, a fire burned 4,475 acres of the Big Run watershed. It was started by a careless visitor about 60 yards downstream from the steel bridge in the Big Run Portal. The vegetation is recovering. The Brown Mountain Trail. and the lower part of the Big Run valley, are the best places to study this process.
CAUTION: Access to lower Big Run valley from the park boundary is no longer an option without prior permission. Private land along the old Big Run Fire Road is heavily posted "no trespassing." I strongly suggest that your hikes into the Big Run area start from Skyline Drive or Madison Run Fire Road. Besides the hike described on page 193 I've recommended three others, on pages 202, 203, and 206.
MILE 77.5, IVY CREEK OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,890 feet. A.T. access.
Hikes. A pleasant view, framed by trees. Toward the right, outside the
sketch, is the northeast summit of Loft Mountain. Farther right, with
evergreens on its slope, is the south summit.
The A.T. passes through the overlook, coming in at one end and going out the other. Distances on the A.T.: North (to the left as you face the view) it's 1.6 miles to Pinefield Gap, Mile 75.3. South (to the right)it's 4.9 miles to the Loft Mountain Campstore. I will describe two hikes that start here.
MILE 78.1, ROCKYTOP OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,860 feet. The view includes a large part of the Big Run watershed. To the left, outside the sketch, the high peak on the horizon is Trayfoot Mountain. If you follow the ridge to the left from Trayfoot you'll see an area of purple-gray talus with larger rocks above it. That, collectively, is Blackrock, which has a spectacular view. You can get there easily by trail. See page 208.
NOTE: According to the Geological Survey, "Rockytop" is the inconspicuous summit to the left of Lewis Peak (see sketch). But in this book, if nowhere else, Rockytop is the higher summitconspicuously rocky on topto the right of Lewis Peak.
MILE 78.35, GEOLOGY. There's a parking area on the east side of the Drive, at the foot of a small talus slope of Hampton sandstones, some of them phyllitic (which is to say that in a fresh break you can see glints or luster caused by tiny flakes of mica.) Fifty yards north (uphill) on the Drive is an exposure of Hampton quartzitemedium to dark salt-and-pepper gray in a fresh break; the surface is weathered dark gray, and stained red-brown with iron.
Geology: You can park in the grass on either side of the Drive near the
service road, or in the parking area at the Wayside to the south. From 50 to
150 yards north of the service road are coarse-grained sandstone and
quartzite of the Weverton formation. The rocks on the west side have a few
thin layers of phyllite, which has a lustrous sheen. Those on the east have
nearly white veins of small quartz pebbles.