After walking for 1 mile along Keyser Run Fire Road, you reach Skyline Drive. There are two options for views, and likely time to do both.
(1) Little Hogback Mountain Overlook on the Appalachian Trail
- Cross Skyline Drive, turn left, and walk for about 10-15 minutes along the AT
(2) Mount Marshall Overlook on Skyline Drive
- Stay on the same side of Skyline Drive as the parking lot at the end of Keyser Run Fire Road, walk on the grass and/or on the stone fence for about 10 minutes
Either place is good to stop at and eat lunch. On this day the view of Shenandoah Valley from Little Hogback Mountain Overlook was hazy, so we backtracked and headed over to Mount Marshall Overlook.
Perhaps since Little Devils Stairs loop trail was my first hike in Shenandoah National Park, and this view my first mountain view from Shenandoah, I especially enjoy this viewpoint. I love the many layers of mountains you can see.
There are usually several types of wildflowers in the grassy areas next to Skyline Drive and at the overlook point. This day we saw Common Mullein, Thimbleweed, and Knapweed.
Common Mullein, or Verbascum thapsus, is a member of the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) and blooms June to September. Naturalized from Europe, it now grows throughout North America, favoring fields, roadsides, and waste places. The fluffy leaves used to be used as warm padding for shoes in winter by Native Americans and colonists alike. Tea made from the leaves was used to treat colds, coughs, and asthma. The leaves can be applied to the skin to soothe sunburn and inflammation.
We saw some more varieties of wildflowers on the loop trail back down Keyser Run Fire Road.
Great Lobelia, Great Blue Lobelia, or Lobelia siphilitica, is a member of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae) and blooms August to September. A native flower, it grows throughout eastern and central North America, favoring rich lowland woods, meadows, and swamps. Despite the fact that all parts of the plant are poisonous, it used to be used for treating a variety of ailments, including syphilis (hence the name).
Wavy-leaved Aster, Wavyleaf Aster, or Symphyotrichum undulatum / Aster undulatus, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms August to November. A native species, it grows throughout eastern North America in dry woods, thickets, and clearings. Their pale lavender color is lovely.