The trail terrain on this loop varies from dirt path surface to extremely rocky, making it a relatively slower hike, but still challenging and really fun. Lots of elevation change makes this a good challenge for the cardiovascular system. There are a couple rocky outcroppings with gorgeous views of Luray Valley. Also, you have the option of a ~1 mile add-on in the Stony Man Summit Trail
, which adds another good incline but also spectacular views.
You can access this route easily from Skyland Resort
by hiking about 0.5 mile up to the parking lot on Skyland Road
. All trail junctions are very nicely marked, and the trails are well-marked with blazes. Be very careful of the rocks, they'd be unforgiving to fall on.
Starting from Stony Man Parking Lot, hike past a little sign with this exact loop drawn out on it, and head onto the Appalachian Trail (white blazes), which runs concurrent with the Stony Man Summit Trail
(blue blazes). The trail is pretty good here in terms of footing, but does go uphill at a fairly constant pace.
A little under 0.5 miles in, there will be a junction between the Appalachian Trail and Stony Man Summit Trail
- take a right onto the AT, following the white blazes. The trail will start to go downhill from here (most of this segment of the hike is downhill with some uphill chunks), and will gradually become rockier.
The junction between the AT and Passamaquoddy Trail - North
will come after a nice viewpoint from a rocky outcropping and a couple of sharp switchbacks. Turn onto Passamaquoddy Trail - North
(yellow blazes) and follow this about a mile over mostly rocky up and down terrain.
Once arriving at a very wide junction between Passamaquoddy Trail - North
, Passamaquoddy Trail - South
, and Furnace Spring Horse Trail
, take a left onto Furnace Spring Horse Trail
(note: taking a right onto Passamaquoddy Trail - South
will just take you to the road and eventually to Skyland Resort
). Follow this trail uphill to the parking lot; the rockiness subsides a lot here, making for an easy finish for your hike.
There is a placard with information about Stony Man, Passamaquoddy, and some of the AT at the parking lot. There I read that the name "Passamaquoddy" means "river abounding in pollock" in the language of the Native Americans who lived in this area. George Pollock, who made the trail, used the reference to the fish to name this trail after himself. The more you know.