Does anyone know if this road is open. Seems I read somewhere about the FS closing the parkway during hunting season to discourage poachers.
Does anyone know if this road is open. Seems I read somewhere about the FS closing the parkway during hunting season to discourage poachers.
I found this on their website.
I would call them directly to get the most current info.The park itself is always open, but some portions of the Skyline Drive, the only road through Shenandoah National Park, are closed from dusk to early morning during hunting season. This road also closes in inclement weather for safety reasons. Visitor facilities and services begin operating between early April and Memorial Day and close down by late November.
Visitor Information 540-999-3500
Originally Posted by Hikerhead
This is correct - starting this Sunday PM and continuing through the first weekend in Jan Skyline Drive (or at least the Central and Southern Districts - these were the only signs I saw since I came in at Swift Run Gap / US Rt 33). The SD gates will be closed by the NPS (not FS) at 5 PM (or slightly earlier/later depending on Ranger arrival) and will be re-opened at 8 AM (or up to an hour or so later based on personal experience). All is not lost however if you get stuck behind the gates - there is a public phone (I think) at the Swift Run Gap entrance station - just call the park 800 number (800 732 0911 I think but it is on all the signs there in the park) and they can give you the combination to use (again I think).
Unfortunately this procedure is not something I have actually tried - during this season I usually just park outside of the gates in the Swift Run Gap area. It does however get a little boring hiking the trails in that area so I sometimes just use the boundary access points instead or just go bushwhacking where convenient.
Hey Skyline - what is the situation in the North District? Also am I out to lunch or what?
They have the road closed to keep poachers out at night. The trails are absolutely deserted during this time of year. Great time to hike, if you like your urine freezing when it hits the ground. There is quite a bit of poaching in the park, though you would never know it considering how the deer act.
Last year the South Section was closed full time during the late fall and winter due to an unstable rock outcropping. I went on a trip in early December. I camped at Calf Mountain hut the first night, and made it to the Wildcat Ridge overlook by the early afternoon of the second day. A hunting dog limped up to me on the road. He did not look so hot. His ribs were visible and he was shivering (I suspect it was in the low 20's during the daytime). I called up the SNP office on my cell phone, and I was informed that they would not pick the dog up. Having seen my share of lost hunting dogs, it didn't seem that this one was in bad shape. I tied my bear rope around its leash and turned around to walk him out. I made the remaining 12 miles by 11 pm. 20 mile day in December with a fifty pound pack. All sorts of eyes stared at me on the way out. Interesting trip.
Any of them human?Originally Posted by Bankrobber
The North and South Districts close first at night, coinciding with the end-of-season closing of facilities like Elkwallow Wayside and Loft Mt. Wayside/Campstore. This year, that was the second Sunday in November.
The Central District must remain open at night until the Sunday after Thanksgiving to accommodate guests at Skyland, Big Meadows Wayside/Campground, etc. So this Sunday night the Central District nighttime closings begin.
These nighttime closures stay in effect until January 4. Of course by that time the entire Skyline Drive could be closed 24/7 if there is any snow or ice on the road, or forecast for same.
I've never had to call to get out of the gate at night, but I think HOI is correct in stating that you can call Park Emergency and they will assist. Not sure if Skyline Drive gates use key locks or combination locks. The various fire road gates have key locks. As a matter of policy, they close the "inbound" gates by dusk, but leave the "outbound" gates open for a bit so late stragglers can exit. When the outbound gates are locked, that's when you'd have to call for help.
The trails do not close very often, however. Examples are when Newt Gingrich & Co. shut down the government in 1995, or when Hurricanes Fran or Isabel or the Great Ice Storm of '98 forced closures.
There are a number of Park boundary entry points that you can use to access parts of the Park made difficult when Skyline Drive is closed. These are posted off a link from www.patc.net.
Thanks guys for the great info. Any recommendations for a good 20 mile loop in the central district using the AT, horse trails or side trails?
Skyline and anyone else familiar with SNP,
Have you ever scene any bears during the late fall or winter in the park? I saw a bear during the last week of March last year, but I have not scene any during winter time. Do your hang your food during the winter?
I have seen bear tracks in winter snow on Skyline Drive but I can't say I have ever seen a black bear in winter there - given the tracks I know they are occasionally around. Generally I would hang my food anyways - just a habit.
Well I'm not too sure about the milage but some good circuits can be put together in Hazel country section of Central district - for example park at the boundary on 600 and come up Hazel River Tr. a short ways to Sam's Ridge Tr., left on Hazel Mtn. Tr. to Hot-Short Mtn Tr., left on Nichelson Hollow Tr. to Corbin Mtn. Tr., cross over / through Hazel River to Corbin Mtn Tr. to Indian Run Tr., right on Nichelson Hollow Tr. to Hannah Run Tr., short section of Catlett Mtn Tr. to Catlett Spur Tr., left on Hazel Mtn Tr. to White Rocks Tr., left on Hazel River Tr. and back to the road side parking on 600. There is room for about 4 cars in the road side parking on 600.Originally Posted by Hikerhead
Later Edit: I got out the mapping software and measured this circuit - comes out to be just about 20 miles - not bad for just winging it These are all fairly good trails - while horses are permitted on some of them in actual fact you will rarely see sign of horses and the treadway is quite good - not the usual eroded mess that is a typical horse trail.
Last edited by jlb2012; 11-28-2003 at 21:07.
Black bear in SNP don't hibernate the way we were taught as kids that bears hibernate. They slow down, but don't spend the winter "asleep." I've seen them this year as recently as two weeks ago (in fact three in one day). I saw bear scat that looked fresh this week. And on rare occasions I've laid eyes on the real deal in the deep of winter. Yes, I hang food in winter.
A 20-miler in the Central District?
I'd park at the White Oak Canyon boundary lot in Berry Hollow (east side) and put together a circuit of your choosing. By parking there, you don't have to deal with the uncertainty of Skyline Drive closures in winter. You might stop at Thornton Gap first, however, to get your backcountry permit since I've heard the self-registration kiosks at boundary points aren't operating reliably right now.
First day, starting from Berry Hollow...up Cedar Run to Hawksbill Gap, cross the Drive, continue up to Hawksbill Summit (highest point in SNP, great observation platform), then down the Salamander (some maps call it Nakedtop) Trail to the A.T. Take the A.T. south a short distance to Rock Spring Hut (shelter, tentsites, water source). If you'd rather camp away from a shelter there are options not too far away but you could still get water here.
Next day, continue south on the A.T. to Fishers Gap. Cross the Drive, take the fire road down to the base of Dark Hollow Falls. Climb up about 0.3 mi. to the best of the Falls, then retrace to the fire road, cross it and the bridge, and continue downhill on the Rose River Falls Loop Trail. You'll parallel a beautiful cascading stream (Hogcamp Branch). At the bottom, follow Rose River Loop and begin to climb. In about 0.3 mi. you'll come to another waterfall. Continue uphill to an intersection with the Skyland-Big Meadows Horse Trail. Turn right on it, and follow this for several miles. You'll pass an intersection with the Cedar Run Trail near Hawksbill Gap you should remember from yesterday. You can turn right here and retrace your steps back to your vehicle in Berry Hollow. Or, if you get this far and have an option to spend a second night, you could camp somewhere along the horse trail before you get to this intersection. There are a couple of springs that were running well as of last weekend.
Better yet (and this is what I'd do if I knew for sure I was going to spend two nights) camp somewhere along the Rose River Loop anywhere starting from near the junction of the Rose River and Hogcamp Branch to just beyond the Rose River waterfall. No lack of really good options, and plenty of water from either stream. In fact, if you start EARLY ENOUGH on your first day and only do a one-nighter, camping along the Rose River Loop is worth considering.
If you take the second night in the woods, on your third day, continue on the horse trail PAST Cedar Run Trail, and get to a fire road in about a half mile. This is still technically the S-BM Horse Trail. Follow it downhill to White Oak Canyon. Take a left at the stream for a couple hundred feet, turn right, and cross a footbridge, then follow the White Oak Canyon Trail downhill. In about 0.2 mi. you'll come to a viewpoint for the Upper Falls. Great place for a break. Then continue downhill past five more waterfalls (not all are visible right from the trail tho). If in deep winter, you may see lots of frozen waterflow on the sides of the canyon as you descend--folks ice climb here if it's thick enough. Eventually, the trail will level out, cross another footbridge, and you'll soon be back at your vehicle in Berry Hollow by following the blue blazes.
The one-night option, including a side trip to Rock Spring Hut, comes in at between 18-19 miles. The two-night option is 20-21 miles.
I highly recommend you get the SNP Central District map from PATC (www.patc.net). It's THE one to have for this hike. Trail Illustrated also makes a SNP map but it lacks detail IMO because they put all three districts on a single map. You could also get the official A.T. Guide to SNP--it not only covers the A.T. in detail in both directions but has good descriptions of all the side trails. There are a number of other SNP guides but this one works best for me. YMMV.
Have a great hike. White Oak Canyon/Hawksbill/Rose River are popular areas but in deep winter shouldn't be crowded. There are reasons they're popular of course, and in winter you get to enjoy them minus all the people.
I would use the Central District Map and hike from somewhere on Skyline Drive to Old Rag summit via White Oak Canyon. If you are not dead set on hiking in Shenandoah, try going south of the Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hike the 17 mile loop in the Saint Mary's Wilderness 15 miles South on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or the hike the AT over the Three Ridges Mountain and cut back around the MauHar Trail. Whatever you choose, you have some great hiking ahead of you.
If you can find "Circuit Hikes in SNP," published by PATC, you might check it what they suggest for hikes.
unfortunately the PATC book does not go into 20 mile + hikes - the longest it has for the Central district is 12 miles. On the other hand I think the Mallory book might have some longer circuits.
The reason I suggested the official A.T. Guide (with side trails) is because it includes detailed info about everything--the white-blazed A.T., blue-blazed foot trails, yellow-blazed horse trails (which hikers can also use), and the fire roads. The other guides tend to be limited to specific hiking loops, and some do that fairly well, but the A.T. Guide allows you to combine it with a PATC map and plan any kind and length of hike you want.
Part of the fun is in the planning, IMO.
Thanks again for great info, I'll most definitely refer back to it. I did go. I got a late start Sat (nothing new) got to the ranger hut at the southend/Afton Mtn around noon. The weather was completely the worst that I've hiked in. Foggy, the winds must have been gusting to 40 MPH and raining on top of that. Plus it was cold. I started at Jarman Gap with plans to hike to the northern intersection of the Riprap Trail, campout around there and do the Riprap tail down and back up to the AT and come back to Jarman Gap. Good plans are made to be broken. I hiked 5.4 miles to where the AT crosses the Parkway/Drive above Turks Gap and decided I had had enough of the rain/wind/fog and set up my Clark Hammock there. The next morning the temps were in the mid 20's, sunny but still windy, it didn't snow but everything I had was frozen. It took a while to get the icy boots on and a good 30 minutes of walking before they loosened up. My zippers on the pack were frozen and trying to get them open with cold stiff fingers was a chore. Enough of the cold and wind, I hiked back to Jarman Gap on the AT.
The Rangers were very nice. While filling out the backcountry permit I think they were trying to talk me out of it with their weather report of continuing wind and possilbly snow which meant the gates would be locked. I asked how I would get out if it did snow and they said I would just have to wait, maybe another ranger would come by.
It was different hike, NOW that I'm home, I'm glad I went.
How was the hammock in the cold? What sort of insulation did you use?
I have a Clark Jungle Hammock. I didn't use any insolation. I did take my summer bag along with my winter bag. The Clark is a little restrictive but once I finally got into both bags everything did ok, my feet got a little cold but I only had 1 pair of dry socks. My vest, which I would have worn at night, was wet hanging under the rain fly drying in the wind. It didn't dry, it just froze stiff.Originally Posted by Hog On Ice
Hikerhead,Originally Posted by Hikerhead
Man! I'm glad we didn't take you up on the offer to join you! Did you take any pictures? Sounds like it had to be miserable. But what you learned from the experience will help on future trips. Do you find that you hike faster when it's cold? We do!