My second hike on Friday was the Frazier Discovery Trail, a 1.4 mile loop in the southern district of Shenandoah National Park. The trail, starting from the Loft Mountain Wayside at milepost 80 on Skyline Drive, forms a loop with a short section of the Appalachian Trail as it climbs and descends from Skyline Drive to, and from, the ridge between Big Flat Mountain (home of the Loft Mountain Campground) and County Line Mountain.
Less than an hour before sunset, wildlife was beginning to venture out of the woods. Starting from the wayside, I passed a pair of deer grazing in a drainage ditch. One was clearly looking to start a fight, though the law was not on his side.
From Skyline Drive, the Frazier Discovery Trail is paved with asphalt for a short distance, before forking into two branches. Remembering from my AT guidebook that the right branch is shorter but steeper, I opted to ascend the hill following the left branch, allowing for an easier climb.
Though occasionally rooty, the left trail was an easy hike. About two-thirds of the way up, the trail snaked around a large exposed rock wall. Just before reaching the AT, an exposed rocky ledge provided a view of the mountains to the west.
From the view, the trail followed the AT for about a fifth of a mile, before splitting off again and heading downhill. This fork of the trail was what I used to grab breakfast from the wayside last year. It wasn’t quite as steep as I remembered it, and the lower half was a fair bit more grassy than I remembered, providing food for a lone rabbit who seemed to not want to let me pass by on the trail.