Devil’s Marbleyard

April 28, 2007 at 10:13 pm 9 comments

Today Mike E and I took the two dogs up near Natural Bridge to visit Devil’s Marbleyard. 500 million years ago, this particular area was a beach of quartz sand (I’ve read very similiar to the Outer Banks). 250 million years ago, the North American plate collided with Europe and Africa, forming the Appalachian Mountains and forcing this terrain upwards. Today what we have left is an entire side of a mountain (8 acres worth) covered with quartzite boulders of various sizes. Fossils in the boulders still record where ancient worms had made their homes way back when the rock was just soft sand.

The hike to the Marbleyard is very easy– the Belfast Trail gradually ascents 500 feet and is a little more than a mile one way (Appalachian Trail hikers– you can take the same Belfast Trail down from the AT). Climbing on and ascending up the Marbleyard is a different story. Much like Mount Sentinel in Missoula, the perspective is misleading. Just when you think you are close to the top of all the rocks, you’ll discover there is another huge slope of boulders.

Just some of the rocks at Devil’s Marbleyard.

To provide some perspective– people climbing on the rocks and some trees

It is not my favorite hike, but it sure is beautiful. Up on the rocks, we got some great views of the surrounding mountains and valley:

View from Devil’s Marbleyard

Dog Friendly
Today I learned Devil’s Marbleyard is actually dog-friendly. When I was there in 2003, we had a dog named Maggie get stuck and Alex Moskwa and I had to carry her down. Keeping that in mind, I tied Jimmie and Henry to trees near the bottom. My intent was humane– they would get to relax and rest while Mike and I ascended up the tougher terrain. The dogs disagreed with my assessment. They cried non stop and did their best to convince other hikers I was torturing them. I finally turned around and fetched them. It turns out they knew better than I. They were fine. To the right of the boulder field, the Belfast Trail continues the ascent. It was steep, but nothing the dogs could not handle. When I did venture out onto the boulders, both dogs knew their own limitations. Henry stayed on some small rocks and watched, while Jimmie followed me out further.

Henry wisely waits on rocks near the trail.

Jimmie navigating larger rocks

Wildlife and Domestic Life
Jimmie ran into this snake (almost literally!) on the way to the Marbleyard. The snake was beautiful and allowed us to photograph him for some time. Anyone know what kind of snake it is?

The hike was terribly popular today and the parking lot was full. Mike and I had to park down the street next to a pig farm. As we loaded back into the vehicles, one pig took an interest in watching and was apparently not intimidated by the barking dogs. I think he was cuter than the snake. I named him Wilbur.

Wilbur watches us.

More pictures of our Devil’s Marbleyard hike (including more snake pictures and pig pictures) are available on my Flickr site.

Additional Links on Devil’s Marbleyard
Kevin Myatt’s article for the Roanoke Times
Washington and Lee University’s Geology of the Blueridge Mountains

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Devil's Marbleyard, Hiking, Mike E, pig, snake.

Leer and Groping in Wichita Foamhenge

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Foamhenge « TGAW  |  April 28, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    […] 28th, 2007 After our Devil’s Marbleyard Hike, Mike took us to another unique site– Foamhenge.  It is a full-scale replica of […]

  • 2. Katie  |  April 29, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve no idea what sort of snake it is, but what a find!

  • 3. tgaw  |  April 30, 2007 at 1:15 am

    I am told it is a “Common Ribbon Snake”

  • […] View of Devil’s Marbleyard As we ascended through Thunder Ridge Wilderness, we pass a rock outcropping with a views of Devil’s Marbleyard.  It’s quite a different perspective than Mike Ellery and I had a few weeks ago at the Marbleyard. […]

  • 5. CrazyHedgehog  |  September 3, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Looks like a wandering garter snake… a pic on, and the garter experts there will tell you.

  • 6. Anita Meyers  |  April 20, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    My husband and I went hiking up to Devil’s Marbleyard yesterday;
    Saturday April 19, 2008. We saw a cute dog that looked EXACTLY like your Henry. He was wandering around the area and following hikers up and down the trail. He didn’t have a collar and was very friendly. One hiker we passed was considering keeping him because he thought the dog was lost or abandoned. Did you happen to lose Henry while hiking in the area?

  • 7. tgaw  |  April 20, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    @Anita – Thanks for commenting. Luckily, Henry was not lost and is still on hand. He got to go with me to Keffer Oak earlier this week! I sure hope that lost dog is okay and gets reunited with his home. Thanks again for asking.

  • 8. Virgin Islands: The Baths at Virgin Gorda « TGAW  |  January 15, 2009 at 8:04 am

    […] Such is the case at Virgin Gorda. Sailing around the island, the shoreline is suddenly littered with giant boulders, some piled on top of others. They are as surprising and as seemingly out of place as the boulders at Devil’s Marbleyard. […]

  • 9. Caid  |  June 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    The only thought crossing my mind when witnessing this place for the first time was how on earth did all this get here. It is absolutely breathtaking and the hike is doable for most anyone. I highly recommend it. Wear good shoes!!!


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