Green Hill Park Meadow (Salem, VA)

Posted by on May 4, 2012

Flickr Submissions (tag:GOaS-GreenHillPark)

Submitted by Alana Gosnell.

If you are in Salem and want a quick place to shoot some nice landscape in the evening, you may want to check out the meadow above Green Hill Park. Roanoke County’s Green Hill Park, located in west Salem, has a scenic opportunity for photographers that not many people are aware of. Atop the ridge that runs parallel to the back of the park is a huge equestrian meadow, which is part of the Green Hill Park Equestrian Center (a public facility owned by Roanoke County). It’s not the most spectacular view in the valley, but if you time it right, the light from the sunset can do some interesting things with the sky. Not to mention, it’s one of the few elevated spots close to civilization that doesn’t have a gazillion power lines running through it. The sloping meadow, with the variety of horse jumps provides some nice foreground, as well.

The meadow can be accessed several ways. I usually take the shortest, but most strenuous route, the Craig Climb trail. This trail is about a 15-20 minute climb almost straight up the ridge. This trail definitely gives me a good cardio workout. However, I walked the trail with my two-year-old son without any problems, taking our time. This trail ends on the upper west end of the meadow. From this end of the meadow, there is a view of almost the entire hilltop which slopes downward towards the north/northeast. There isn’t much of a view to the west due to the trees, but the view to the northeast is decent. Occasionally, I can see Tinker Mountain if the atmosphere is not hazy.

The meadow can also be accessed on the lower, northern end by connecting to the Walton Way trail via the Paw Paw trail. This route is less strenuous, but longer, switchbacking to the top of the hill. From here you can either walk through the meadow to the other end, or continue along the Meadow View trail, skirting the edge of the meadow. The Meadow View trail connects with the upper end of the Craig Climb trail, making a nice loop. Either of the trails can be accessed by parking at the very back of the park. The trail head is located near the picnic shelter.

In the warmer seasons, it is best to wear long pants. I was there just a few days ago and the grass is already knee-high. After sunset, the moon provided enough light for me to navigate the meadow. However, once on the trail, under the tree canopy, the light is almost completely blocked. I normally don’t use a flashlight when walking at night, but the trail is uneven and steep. This is one of the few situations I recommend using a flashlight while walking back to the parking lot after sunset.

As for shooting the night sky, I haven’t been on the hill late enough to see if the lights from the surrounding civilization will interfere with doing any star trails. The park doesn’t close until 11:00 PM, so it might be worth checking out. It also might be worth checking out the sunrise from the upper end of the meadow.

Green Hill Park Meadow Sunset

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