When my thirteen-year-old signed up to participate in the Multiple Sclerosis 150-miler, he informed me that this would mean he would need to begin training. Since the terrain of this annual bike tour is "hilly," he thought it would be a good idea to ride up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. It is, in fact, a little "hilly" up there too.
My two-and-a-half-year-old neighbor was the logical cohort for this adventure. He and I could explore the mountains (on a particularly incredible spring day) while my son did his workout. This two-and-a-half-year-old has just mastered the art of meaningful conversation and his wonder of the world makes his companionship a delight.
When you are planning a trip to the mountains with toddlers, consider visiting Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm-it is near the Visitor's Center. When my own children were young, we went often and it was those fond memories that lead me back with my young friend. The nice thing about this place and toddlers is how easy it is to let them explore with some sense of independence. The walk isn't so far, or rough, as to cause discouragement. If you go during the week, it isn't crowded. If you go during the summer, the buildings are open with quality living history demonstrations that I have found to be equal to those at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. If you go in other seasons, the self-guided tour through this 19th century reconstructed farmstead is a relaxed way to explore a part of our history. The guidebooks say you should allow twenty minutes for this; we happily explored for an hour and a half. Regardless of when you go, your visit is free.
The places you can explore include the log cabin, root cellar, pigpen, chicken coop, honey tree, springhouse, barn, and garden. Interpretive signs give you the information you need to answer (most of) the questions your kids have. The entire area is very well maintained and the best chance to catch the living history demonstrations is Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays beginning Memorial Day weekend and lasting until the end of October. From a pool of sixteen skilled volunteers, Randy Sutton, Interpretive Ranger arranges programs that include open-fire/hearth cooking in the log cabin, weaving, quilting, as well as the making of apple cider, apple butter, baskets, dulcimers, and brooms. The schedule is structured based upon the availability of volunteers and special arrangements can be made for groups at other times by calling Ranger Sutton at (540) 377-2377 (extension 3#).
As your kids get older, climbing Humpback Rocks is a wonderful hike and the view at the top is 360 degrees of Rockfish Valley to the east and Shenandoah Valley to the west. This hike is only a mile, steep but well graded. It is well worth the effort.
As for my thirteen-year-old on his bike in two hours, he went 30 miles up and down the ridgeline of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. (My neighbor and I almost played at the wonderful Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm too long.) We both look forward to future adventures while my son continues his training.
Copyright ©2003-Mary Wilson-All Rights Reserved
Go back to Happy Trails Home Page