Virginia’s Hidden Rocks Hike

Nearly down to the day one year ago, Andy and I set off for a short hike in the woods. Unlike this February, the weather was moderate — even warm — as we went in search of Hidden Rocks, a large granite wall leading to a cliff-edge look-out.

Because of this wall, rock climbers mostly frequent the area, which is why — as far as hikers are concerned — reports state the area is comprised of the “least utilized trail systems in George Washington National Forest.” Those trail systems make up Hone Quarry Falls, Hone Quarry Ridge, and Oak Knob (more links to come as we did return for these hikes). To me though, knowing these four unique trails scored high on the solitude scale meant my interest was piqued and so Andy and I took off to Hidden Rocks — the shortest of four trails, meaning the perfect outdoor exploration in February.

  • A little less than three miles
  • 390-foot elevation gain
  • Level Two of Five difficulty

Following the yellow blaze Hidden Run Trail, we set off brimming with excitement.

The truth is we do not find ourselves on wooded walks much these days. In fact, in 2020 when we did this hike, we only went out seven times all year — a mere seven times! I cannot describe the actual pain I feel as my heart drops knowing this. To provide an example, in years before, we hiked almost three times more — which means about every other weekend, we were in a forest and on a trail. During these times, I felt physically and mentally at my peak . . . whereas now, I am physically and mentally suffering.

See, Andy and I live in a city where ancient trees were plowed down for parking decks long ago. There is no grass to walk on barefoot and no dirt to get under my nails to plant a garden.

There is only pavement — miles and miles of tar that shimmers in a victory dance on summer days, and my heart aches for forests.

This is because nature is cathartic in more ways than one. Mentally, I am only sane outside so when not given the opportunity to stretch and be wild, my mind becomes toxic. Physically, exercise is the closest proven remedy to battle multiple sclerosis since there is no cure. Without hiking trails, I feel my body weaken; I see my eyesight blurring and becoming brighter. I know am on the brink of a relapse and so every day I wake hoping my medication is strong enough and each night I fall asleep grateful my disease was held at bay.

But this is a risk — a dangerous one . . . and yet, I feel forced to continue to wager.

With COVID, the world has turned virtual and so I find myself like most of you — waking to sit behind a computer to work until work is over and then dinner turns to finding a different seat before going to bed to repeat the entire process again. And again. And it is killing me.

I am also working against myself: Andy and I spend essentially every weekend restoring our 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome so I am battling between the desire to work on our ancient RV consistently, which would get it finished faster and put us closer to our goal of traveling and living outside . . . versus instead hiking now, which will stretch the restoration far ahead and move our RV goal further away.

For now, there is no good answer, which I suppose is why — when we do take to the mountains — we savor every moment.


Dropping into Rocky Run, the area is densely packed with rhododendron and mountain laurel. I have yet to see the plants grow as tall and as wide as they have here — It was so immense that their branches create romantic tunnels above the trail. These tunnels are a characteristic of the Appalachia and so, as we passed, I imagined the hundreds of blooming flowers that will appear when the seasons change. Because of this, this trail now is at the top of our spring hike list.

Winding under the rhododendron and laurel, we were lead in and out of shadows towards Rocky Run where we rock-skipped across two more times. Another plus about adding this to our spring hike list is that salamanders and crayfish supposedly populate these waters during that time . . .


In about one mile though, the reason for your journey, which is (as the name suggests) hidden behind trees.


These granite cliffs are as high as eighty feet, and hold four separate small areas to explore: Lower Hidden Rocks (pictured here), Hidden Crack, Upper Hidden Rocks, and Hidden Hilltop.

Starting with the Lower Hidden Rocks, we swept to the left of the granite aiming for the Upper Hidden Rocks . . .


The rocks are really quite stunning so as we walked, we would pause to take in the sharp angles that have been formed. . .

Soon, the short hike up had us standing at the top where a view of Hone Quarry and its bare trees awaited.


Above us, birds flew in circles and the sun’s rays splashed onto the rocks and us, providing a warmth that made us sunbathe with no desire to leave. We had the area to ourselves and it was so quiet, so peaceful that time moved quickly, making it hard to believe we had to go home.


As Andy made his scramble down, I chose to stay a bit longer at the top . . .

until I could hear him calling my name from below. It was my time to go, too, and so I joined Andy as we followed the loop section to the right, sliding around Hidden Cracks where the granite wall was illuminated once more.


Overall, the rocks alone are truly remarkable, but there is also an bit of extra delight: Continuing the trail to the right, there is a little loop where Rocky Run crosses again. There, we found a teeny tiny waterfall . . .


and so on the way back, I couldn’t help but smile. This hike proves that even a simple, short walk in the woods has huge rewards, too.

Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever a seeker.

One thought

  1. You’ve done it again L.! Another captivating tale with spectacular photography.! Don’t despair., we will win or at least subdue Covid.!! Love, Midad. XX

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