It has been sweltering this week in the Virginias. The kind of heat that always surprises you when you step out of your air conditioning and onto the street, even though you have only been in that house/store/gas station for five minutes. The kind of heat that hooks up with humidity to produce an atmosphere you can feel on your skin and carries a weight that slumps the shoulders. This is typical of peak summer in the mid-Atlantic, but that does not make it any easier to handle on a day-to-day basis, especially for the desk jockeys sweating it out over morning coffee following their commute. No time for gossip at the water cooler these days, just chugging.

Summer heat has a way of making everyone feel claustrophobic, trapped by the walls of oppression with no escape. Well, this weekend is the time to fight back and head for the blue lines of the mountains. This weekend is the perfect time to hit your favorite Blue Ridge swimming hole.

One of our favorites is off of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park: Riprap Hollow. This is an excursion that combines all the best aspects of SNP. You can do this hike as an out and back or make it a 10-mile loop by linking up the Riprap Trail and the Wildcat Ridge Trail with the Appalachian Trail. After setting out from the Riprap Trail Parking area, you will be rewarded with stunning vistas from Calvary Rocks and Chimney Rocks before heading down from the ridge to the ice-cold stream flowing out of the mountains.

Views, swimming holes, Appalachian Trail, waterfalls? Sounds like the perfect day to us.

Directions to Riprap Hollow:

Park at the Riprap Trail parking area, at milepost 90 along Skyline Drive. Take the A.T. for half a mile to the blue blazed Riprap Trail, then follow the trail for three miles as it drops in elevation. Here is a map (PDF) from Shenandoah National Park.

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