The stretch of Route 340 in Virginia, between Elkton and Waynesboro, is known locally as East Side Highway. It runs north and south along the western Blue Ridge Mountains, making it an important route for outdoor adventurers set on enjoying Shenandoah National Park and the river communities along the South River and South Fork of the mighty Shenandoah in the eastern Shenandoah Valley.
|Take a moment to pose for the camera, Brian! That's Buzzard Rock behind.|
Because the 2014 PATC Map 11 does a better job highlighting overlooks and vistas, I found some short hikes that I can do on my daily commute, between Massanutten and Waynesboro. So far I have only done one of the two new hikes I've identified, so I'll talk about that one now and tell you about the other one once I've scouted it out myself.
Go to the Paine Run Trailhead - from Route 340 at Harriston, VA, take Harriston Road east, then turn right on Horsehead Road to the dead end. Here you will find the entry point for the hike I'm calling the Lefthand Hollow-Buzzard Rock Overlook Hike. It's a short, two-mile out-and-back, that is well graded and has about 350-feet elevation gain to an south-facing rock outcrop overlook.
At the end of Horsehead Road, enter the woods and walk the wide trail that goes downhill briefly before leveling off. The trail follows the banks of Paine Run for about a third of a mile, crossing the creek twice on nicely lain, large and sturdy rocks. Some 100 steps after the second creek crossing, turn left and begin the steady trudge uphill.
The hike is basically one big switchback along the side of Trayfoot Mountain as you rise above Lefthand Hollow, the other side of which is formed by Horsehad Mountain. Continue up - about a third of a mile for each switchback - and you will reach the overlook at approximately one mile.
What looks like a perfect cone of a mountain in front of you is actually the northern end of a ridge line. The top of this photogenic mound is called Buzzard Rock, so-named for the buzzards who frequent the area. The upper Shenandoah Valley stretches out past Round Hill and other valley structures to the south and west.