Trail Run Project Logo

gem icon Big Meadows [Suggest Edits]

9 votes
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Description

Big Meadows is the largest developed area in the park. It is located off of Skyline Drive near mile-marker 51. Here, you'll find the Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center with a lodge, store, and camping area. A number of the park's trails can be accessed from Big Meadows, such as Story of the Forest Trail and Dark Hollow Falls Trail. In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially dedicated Shenandoah National Park at Big Meadows.

The Big Meadows area has the highest concentration of rare plants in Shenandoah National Park. There are two "Mafic Fens" (types of wetlands) that contain rare plant communities that are thought to be endemic to the park. Here, you can also find eight different state rare plant species. The Meadow is also a great area to spot a number of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

Officially termed a "fen", the Big Meadows Swamp, between the campground and Skyline Drive, is a wetland that is sustained by groundwater that has high levels of calcium and iron. The nutrient-rich water found in the swamp combined with the surrounding geology, elevation, and environmental conditions creates an environment that enables the extremely rare "Northern Blue Ridge Mafic Fen" plant community. This plant community has the highest concentration of rare plants per unit area within the entire park and is found nowhere else in the world.

Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this description. If you’re interested in learning more details about great hikes, weather, camping / lodging, wildlife, and scenic drives, check out the comprehensive Guide to Shenandoah National Park.

Short Walk: There are a number of parking areas at Big Meadows. Head out on a wildflower walk or run along one of the many trails that start near the visitor center.

Gem Type: Family Attraction

Shared by:
Zander Göpfert

0 Comments

You & This Gem


Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Share This Gem

Check In

Check-Ins

none

Nearby Gems

gem Favorite Best hike in Shenandoah!

Old Rag Summit

(58) Stanley, VA
gem Favorite The second of 6 waterfalls in Whiteoak Canyon (the 1st being the very upper falls).

White Oak Canyon Swimming Hole

(29) Stanley, VA
gem Favorite Sunrise view from atop Mary's Rock

Mary's Rock Viewpoint

(23) Luray, VA
gem Favorite Night shot of Dark Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls

(32) Stanley, VA
gem Favorite Panoramic from the top of Hawksbill Mtn.

Hawksbill Mountain Summit

(23) Stanley, VA
gem Favorite It's almost unfair to not have to work for this view from Stony Man Summit in Shenandoah National Park.

Stony Man Summit

(18) Stanley, VA
gem Favorite Sunset view from atop Bearfence.

Bearfence Mountain

(15) Stanley, VA
gem Favorite Upper Rose River Falls.

Rose River Falls

(17) Stanley, VA

Nearby Trails

8.9 mi 14.3 km Old Rag Loop
Difficult
Stanley, VA
Difficult
8.9 mi 14.3 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry
20 days ago
208 
8.2 mi 13.1 km Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop
Intermediate/Difficult
Stanley, VA
Intermediate/Difficult
8.2 mi 13.1 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry - Streams are low, bridge is good
1 day ago
98 
3.8 mi 6.1 km Rose River Loop
Intermediate
Stanley, VA
Intermediate
3.8 mi 6.1 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry
33 days ago
47 
2.7 mi 4.3 km Hawksbill Mountain Loop
Intermediate
Stanley, VA
Intermediate
2.7 mi 4.3 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Dry - November 9. Great conditions. Very crowded at summit
1 day ago
36 
1.1 mi 1.8 km Bearfence Loop Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Stanley, VA
Intermediate/Difficult
1.1 mi 1.8 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry, Some Mud
23 days ago
31 
1.7 mi 2.7 km Dark Hollow Falls
Intermediate
Stanley, VA
Intermediate
1.7 mi 2.7 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry
77 days ago
32 
2.9 mi 4.6 km Ridge Trail
Difficult
Stanley, VA
Difficult
2.9 mi 4.6 km Stanley, VA
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry
20 days ago
12 
0.9 mi 1.4 km Dark Hollow Falls Trail
Intermediate
Stanley, VA
Intermediate
0.9 mi 1.4 km Stanley, VA
Unknown
Update
13 
5.0 mi 8.0 km Whiteoak Canyon
Intermediate/Difficult
Stanley, VA
Intermediate/Difficult
5.0 mi 8.0 km Stanley, VA
Unknown
Update
19 
2.2 mi 3.5 km Upper Hawksbill Ascent
Easy/Intermediate
Stanley, VA
Easy/Intermediate
2.2 mi 3.5 km Stanley, VA
Bad / Closed
Update
Bridge for trail is out! Park ranger advised parking area and trail would be closed for 3 weeks while bridge is repaired.
50 days ago
17 
Shared by Zander Göpfert on May 19, 2016. All Page Views: 655. Last Month: 17.