Horsehead Overlook to|
Crimora Lake Overlook
MILE 88.6, HORSEHEAD OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,580 feet. The
overlook has a clear view over Paine Run hollow (see sketch). Trayfoot
Mountain bounds the watershed on the right and Rocks Mountain on the left.
From the north end of the overlook, beyond the trees, you can see up into
the head of Paine Run. The massive mountain ahead and left is Trayfoot.
With your binoculars, follow the ridge to the right from Trayfoot summit,
past the low point, until you come to a purplish talus slope. Follow it up to
the right, to the jumbled mass of broken rock on the ridge crest.
Blackrock, which gave its name to Blackrock Springs and Blackrock Hotel and Blackrock Gap. The view from there is impressive. For an easy hike to Blackrock, see page 208.
Geology: In the island, and in the roadcut across the Drive, are exposures of interbedded phyllite and sandstone of the Hampton formation. The phyllite is pale gray in a fresh breakthin, flaky, and soft. The sandstone is much harder. The weathered surfaces are stained with iron, from golden brown to nearly black. NOTE: The gray stone in the wall here, and in overlooks to the south, is limestonebrought up from the Valley. It does not occur naturally in the Park.
MILE 88.9, A.T. CROSSING. Elevation 2,620 feet. There's limited parking on the east side. Distances on the A.T.: North (on the east side of the Drive) it's 1.8 miles to Blackrock Gap, Mile 87.4. South (on the west side) it's 1.1 miles to Riprap Parking, Mile 90.0.
MILE 90.0, RIPRAP PARKING. Elevation 2,730 feet. Riprap Trail. A.T. access. A paved parking area on the west side of the Drive. A graded trail goes 20 yards uphill to the A.T. Distances on the A.T.: North (to the right) it's 1.1 miles to the Drive crossing at Mile 88.9 South (to the left) it's 2.9 miles to Wildcat Ridge Parking, Mile 88.9.
MILE 91.4, RIPRAP OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,920 feet. A good-sized
overlook with a wide view, and a grassy island with pines and small
dogwoods. On a very clear day you can see mountains along the Blue Ridge
Parkway, far beyond Scott Mountain (at the left edge of the sketch.) Farther
right you can see the Alleghenies on the far side of the Valley. For hikes into
Riprap Hollow see above. (The word "riprap" means broken stone, which
the hollow has lots
MILE 92.0, MOORMANS RIVER OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,975 feet. The overlook offers a clear, pleasing 180-degree view. Its most prominent feature is the Charlottesville reservoir (see sketch). Along the foot of Pasture Fence Mountain, the north fork of Moormans River flows from left to right, through Via Hollow and into the reservoir. In 1995 flooding and landslides dramatically altered the landscape along the north fork of Moormans River. The area is open for day-use only because of the numerous hazards which remain after the flooding.
History: In the early 1700's, Charles Moorman and his son Thomas bought a great deal of land in this area. In 1741 Thomas Moorman patented 750 acres on the river that thereafter carried his name. It's reported that when Pasture Fence Mountain was first discovered by the settlers it was covered with lush bluegrass. By the time George Washington was a teenager, wealthy landowners from the eastern part of the county had fenced this mountain for grazing.
MILE 92.1, WILDCAT RIDGE PARKING. Elevation 2,980 feet. Hikes. A.T. access. The Wildcat Ridge trail crosses the A.T. a little more than 200 yards from the Drive. Distances on the A.T.: North (to the right) it's 2.9 miles to Riprap Parking, Mile 90.0. South (to the left) it's a third of a mile to the Drive crossing at Mile 92.4.
From here you can take a one-way hike through Riprap Hollow to Chimney Rock and
Riprap Parking, Mile 90.0. Or you can make that hike a circuit,
returning via A.T. Since I've described both those hikes from the other end
(page 212), I won't repeat them here.
MILE 92.4, A.T. CROSSING. Elevation 3,000 feet. There's space for several cars on the west side. Distances on the A.T.: North (on the west side) it's a third of a mile to the Wildcat Ridge Trail, near the Drive at Mile 92.1. South (on the east side) it's 1.9 miles to the Drive crossing in Turk Gap, Mile 94.1.
MILE 92.6, CRIMORA LAKE OVERLOOK. Elevation 2,985 feet. The overlook has a wide view, from Turk Mountain at the far left to the nearby Wildcat Ridge at the right. Rocks Mountain, with a small white talus slope, is beyond Wildcat Ridge. Crimora Lake is a little to the right of straight out from the overlook; from here, its water looks dark-colored. Farther left is a body of pale greenish water surrounded by piles of bare earth, with a few trees and a little grass. This is a flooded, abandoned, open-pit manganese mine. The piles of raw earth are a result of the mining operation.
History: Mining of the Crimora manganese deposit began in 1867 and continued intermittently under a series of ownersmany of whom lost moneyuntil March 1946, when the mill shut down for the last time (up to now.) The Crimora deposit, about 500 feet wide, 200 feet deep, and half a mile long, consists of clay with scattered lumps of manganese ore. It lies under a layer of clay and quartz fragments about 15 feet thick, and it's this material which forms the yellow-orange mounds that you see from the overlook. The Crimora deposit has produced more manganese than any other deposit in the United States.
The first step in processing the ore consists in washing off the clay, which requires tremendous quantities of water. Crimora Lake was formed by damming a stream in Dorsey Hanger Hollow to provide water for processing the ore. Clay-laden water was allowed to settle in sumps at the deep ends of the mine pits, and was then recycled. Even so, a chronic water shortage, as well as competition from imported ores, has kept the mine from being very profitable.
Legend: Samuel W. Donald, the second owner of the mine, named it for the daughter of a friend. She was Crimora Frances Withrow.
Point of view: Take another look at the flooded minepit. I've seen a similar
body of pale green water, surrounded by yellow-orange earth and scattered
trees, in Yellowstone National Park. It's a major tourist attraction there.
Whether the flooded Crimora mine pit is an eyesore or a sight for sore eyes
depends on how you look at it.