Shenandoah 2021: Story of the Forest Trail

Another old favorite – we almost never miss the Story of the Forest trail, no matter how quick the visit to Shenandoah. This time, we stopped by the Big Meadows visitor center so the kiddos could take their Junior Ranger oath of office, then immediately struck off for one of our favorite easy, kid-friendly hikes in the park.

The trail dips downhill a ways, then meanders over gently rolling hills – nothing difficult about it at all – for a little under two miles. It’s a lovely hike for kids, since there are plenty of natural elements to keep them engaged (including a Poohsticks bridge) and you can make it as long or as short as you like.

It’s a classic wooded trail; I think quite a few park visitors skip Story of the Forest because it doesn’t boast sweeping vistas (like Hawksbill) or strenuous scrambles (like Old Rag) or roaring waterfalls (like Dark Hollow) – just a peaceful path through a verdant forest. But there’s plenty to see if you drop your eyes to the forest floor itself – like bright green eruptions of ferns, my favorite.

And forest friends, like a sweet doe and her speckled fawns. All together now: awwwwww.

I just love their quiet grace.

Spotted just off the trail: an air quality monitoring station. Unbeknownst to many park visitors, Shenandoah struggles with air quality problems thanks to surrounding industry. Air quality monitoring stations in the park perform important work to ensure that our wild space stays healthy for us all.

Just a beautiful, peaceful walk in the woods – can’t top that.

Next week: we climb to the highest point in the park.

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