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When our children still lived at home we would take to the mountains for our Thanksgiving traditions. We always went to the same place, dear to our hearts and breathlessly beautiful.
Skyland resort perches atop the highest point on the Skyline Drive, near Luray, Va. It's place to go to relax around a roaring fire, buy unique souvenirs, eat very well, and take in some hiking on well marked paths that take you to pristine views of ancient valleys and rugged peaks.
Our favorite hike was the trail that leads Stony Man mountain. The entrance to the trail is just north of the parking lot. It's a great hike to take children on because it's not too long and although it definitely climbs in altitude it's not so steep that a small child can't handle it. We started taking our son on the trail when he was 5. The view from the top is gorgeous and , if you're brave enough, you sit right on the lip of the summit and let your feet dangle.
White Oak Canyon trail is just as easy to get to as Stony Man. The entrance is just south and east, on the other side of the Skyline Drive, easy to walk to from Skyland Resort. It's a more challenging hike, approximately 10 miles in length that starts at the top of the trail and goes down to the bottom of the valley. There are six beautiful falls to see on your way. Of course, you don't have to walk the whole trail. With small children just visiting the first 3 might be enough adventure.
When you make your reservation it will either be for a motel style room or you can rent a cabin. Either way you have a view that knocks your socks off! Most of the motel units rest on the edge of the valley that overlooks the City of Luray, Virginia. At night the valley glows with a thousands of little lights that twinkle. If you stay in one of the lower units you have a choice of either driving your car to the top, where the dining room and lounges are, or you can walk the trail that leads from the meadow where the playground is that winds it's way up through the woods and massive rock outcroppings.
It's a superb way to build a roaring appetite for the wonderful food served in the dining room. (Make sure you try the blackberry ice-cream with black black berry sauce that's made for berries picked right in the park!)
Judy Goddard creates beautiful walking sticks.