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August 28-29

Head for the Hills


When you can't stand Richmond's heat or humidity for another minute, head out — and up — to the mountains in Shenandoah National Park, the first national park established in the East (in 1936). Take a scenic spin along Skyline Drive, the 105-mile stretch of road that runs from one end of the park to the other, and enjoy mountain vistas at every turn.

In the central section of the park, you'll find overnight accommodations that don't involve tents and sleeping bags. If possible, stay in one of Skyland's beautifully rustic cabins. After a day of traipsing around in the mountains, treat yourself to the house favorite, a piece of blackberry ice cream pie. Big Meadows Lodge and Lewis Mountain also offer overnight facilities. Lodging ranges from $50-$95. Call 800-999-4714 for reservation info.


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If it's the back country you crave, go to Shenandoah's southern end. Visit the Loft Mountain Wayside and Loft Mountain Campstore at mile 79.8 for pointers on good hiking and to stock up on supplies. The park boasts almost 500 miles of hiking trails and offers easy access to sections of the Appalachian Trail; you can choose anything from an easy afternoon loop trail to a full-fledged mountain backpacking trip. Call Shenandoah National Park at (540) 999-3500 for camping info.

For a nice family outing, hit Sherando Lake Recreation Area near Waynesboro ($8 per car; (540) 291-2188). Older kids and "kids at heart" will enjoy swimming the 50 yards or so to a small, rocky island facing the lake shore. There are no lifeguards, so watch the little ones. A large, sandy beach offers plenty of sand-castle opportunities, and there's a good expanse of grass for sunbathing and picnicking. A shaded pavilion houses soda and snack machines, but for anything more substantial, you'll have to pack your own or visit the small country store a few miles outside of the park.

Before you make for your campsite, rinse off in the bathhouse showers by the lake. They're cold and crowded, but bonding with shivering, towel-clad campers is an integral part of the Sherando experience.

The campground has 65 family campsites as well as group sites. There's easy access to drinking water, flush toilets, showers and a trailer dump station. Evening programs are conducted at the outdoor amphitheater during the summer

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