Let’s Explore Limberlost

By: Chris Rief

To kick off National Park Week 2021, my adventure buddy Quinn (daughter, age 5) and I (ageless) went to explore a new trail at Shenandoah National Park.

We love going to Shenandoah and often gravitate to our favorite spots, but we also know there is so much to explore among the park’s 200,000+ acres of land. We live just outside of metro Washington D.C., so day trips to the Park are doable, yet always special!

During this trip, we decided to switch things up and take on the Limberlost Trail. It is located at mile 43 off Skyline Drive. Entering through the North Entrance, there are beautiful overlooks, and you’ll pass through Marys Rock Tunnel, which is always fun! On our last visit, there was still snow on the ground, but today, trees with blooming buds and hints of green showed signs of Spring!

One cool feature of Limberlost is that it is a Kids in Park TRACK Trail! This program consists of a national network of trails designed for kids and families. Each TRACK Trail has one or more self-guided adventures. In Shenandoah, your TRACK Trail activity can also be used to help junior rangers earn their badges.

The Limberlost Trail is a 1.3-mile (2 km) loop built for human visitors of all ages and abilities (ADA accessible), but pets are not permitted on this trail. The trail has a five-foot-wide walkway that winds gently through mountain laurel. There are plenty of benches and wheelchair pull-outs throughout to take breaks if needed, or just to soak in nature.

The conditions for our adventure couldn’t have been better. Temperatures were in the low 50’s, with blue skies and puffy clouds. After snapping some photos at the trailhead, we started our hike. The sounds of birds chirping and a light breeze rustling the leaves made the hike even more relaxing.

Quinn examined the TRACK Trails guide before hitting the trail.

As we hiked, we observed new growth of the mountain floor.  We evaluated fallen trees to determine their age and peeked to see if there were bugs inside.  We even took notes along the way.

As we rounded a corner, we came upon a boardwalk that we guessed would be filled with flowering plants in the coming weeks. What we saw next made our hike very memorable! Quinn heard a noise and saw something moving in the leaves on the ground. We followed the movement and discovered a cute little plump bird – an American Woodcock. It was such a great find, and we took some time to enjoy it.

As our adventure continued, our senses discovered many things, like hearing the water rushing in a stream, seeing fungi and moss, and smelling the first buds of Spring. We saw lots of rocks, too!

Our adventure was perfect for us, and we know many more lie ahead for us in Shenandoah. We definitely recommend this trail for visitors of all ages, and we look forward to sharing more of our adventures with you! Happy exploring, and hope that you find your Shenandoah magic.

Thanks for following our adventures! See you on the trail while we #RecreateResponsibly!


Chris Rief is a photographer based in Rockville, Maryland with a passion for public lands. As an ambassador to National Park Geek and Hello Ranger, he documents his exploration of national park sites, both big and small. You’ll often find him on the trail with his adventure buddy and daughter, Quinn.



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Quinn earned her Shenandoah Junior Ranger badge!

Learn more about Shenandoah’s Family Friendly TRACK Trails by watching this Shenandoah Short video below!

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