To access this trail, park at the Piney River Parking Area and head south. You can either take the Piney Branch Trail
and turn right onto the white-blazed AT or take the Range View Cabin Road
. Additionally, you can park at the Elkwallow Picnic Area
and take the white-blazed AT, heading north out of Elkwallow Gap. The blue-blazed, Piney Ride Trail heads south from the end of the Range View Cabin Road
The trail goes along near the crest of the ridge for a few miles. The tread is fairly smooth compared to some of the other trails in the area.
Most of the trees along this trail are black locust, pine, and a few other pioneer species. When the park was established, this area was used as a goat pasture, with only a few trees left for shade. Since that time many pine trees have grown along the trail. Most of them are younger than the park and much younger than the name of the ridge.
A little less than two miles from the start of the trail, look for the Dwyer family cemetery off in the woods, a couple hundred feet to the right. The cemetery is fairly small and can be hard to spot with the vegetation regrowing in and around it.
There are eleven inscribed stones, two metal markers, and a number of fieldstone markers. The most recent burial was in 1927. If you visit the cemetery, please respect the importance of this place as it is a meaningful tie to the early inhabitants of the area. Seven families of Dwyers, owning a total of 850 acres, lived near here in the area that became the park.
A hundred feet further, the trail bends to the east at a trail junction with Fork Mtn Trail
with a concrete marker post. The blue-blazed Fork Mtn Trail
follows an old road trace straight ahead and dead-ends at the Hull School Trail
. The Piney Ridge Trail
continues with some fairly steep sections until it ends at the Piney Branch Trail
Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this trail 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