Hidden J.R.R. Tolkien Quote – Natural Bridge, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

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Hidden J.R.R. Tolkien Quote

Lines from a walking song are etched into a rock in Natural Bridge State Park. 


Virginia’s Natural Bridge is a wonder in and of itself. It’s no surprise that North America’s largest natural land bridge has been drawing people to it for centuries. But those who visit Natural Bridge State Park just to see the enormous stone structure miss risking one of its hidden gems.

Head to Cedar Creek, and you’ll find a literary surprise. There, etched into the side of a large rock, is a J.R.R. Tolkien quote.

The quote is fitting for an adventure in the woods. It displays lines from Upon The Hearth the Fire is Red, a walking song—a poem in the style of a song—written by Bilbo Baggins. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin sing it as they leave the Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring. The quote carved into the rock is from a version that Frodo later reprises and sings to Sam. 

Interestingly, the park officials don’t know who put the quote there or why. Finding it feels like stumbling upon a secret, as it isn’t located on any trail maps.

Know Before You Go

Admission is $6 for visitors ages six to 12 and $9 for visitors over 13 years old. The park is open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. There are 137 steps down to the trail from the parking area. You can also catch a free shuttle down and back up with your admission.

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