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Thread: SNP Itinerary?

  1. #1
    Registered User CentralVaAt's Avatar
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    Default SNP Itinerary?

    I'd really appreciate it if anyone who has hiked all the way thru SNP would share there itinerary! I'm still trying to decide if I should go all the way from Front Royal to Rockfish gap or break it into two seperate shorter outings. I have a 2 year old I don't want to be away from for too long. I'd like to go SOBO, since I live closer to Rockfish gap and feel comfortable about leaving a car there. I'm mostly curious to see what others have done and get their opinions. Any and all advice is welcome!

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    I've thru hiked SNP twice, NOBO both times. For the most part, I found the hike extremely enjoyable.

    April - Nov is the best season to go. The waysides are open, and the blackberry milkshakes are awesome!!

    I pretty much did 20 - 25 mile days each time. There's enough shelters, and easy to find campsites along the way. 4 + days to stroll through the park is quite do-able.

    I didn't set an itenerary, just went out and did it. If you pick up the AT guide book you can easily see the distances between each shelter and set up a pretty good pace for yourself.

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    Default Where to park?

    I'm planning the 101mile section next month. I plan on parking and then getting picked up at the end. Where is the best place to park if I'm hiking south bound? Thanks

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    Registered User wallace's Avatar
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    Default SNP Blog

    What I did can be found here:
    homerandthumbsgohiking.blogspot.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by trrubicon06 View Post
    I'm planning the 101mile section next month. I plan on parking and then getting picked up at the end. Where is the best place to park if I'm hiking south bound? Thanks
    The road/access point at Front Royal would not be a good place to leave a parked car for more than a day. It's a 3 mile road walk from town to the trail access, and I don't know of any good places there to park a car long term.

    Shortly after the trail enters SNP there's parking area that would work. You'd have to pay the $15 entrance fee, and then again to get back to your car - or just buy a season pass. I'm also not sure on the duration you're permitted to leave your car there. Shouldn't be an issue, but call the park ahead of time to verify.

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    Registered User ekeverette's Avatar
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    i am planning the exact same hike in september, but going nobo. i am going to ask the police dept. at both ends, wayns. and front royal. if my friend and i can park our cars there. i'm i lawenforcement and i hope they will let me. have hiked that area alot. you will stay mostly on ridges, great views. i am really looking forward to it.

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    Not all of the waysides are open in April. I hiked it SOBO in the middle of May and the southern most wayside was not opening until the following weekend.

    Park your car at the Northern VA 4-H center. As long as you tell them in advance they are cool with it. Drive onto the property and keep going until you get to the pool. At the parking lot on the left you will see a tree with a blue blaze on it that's maybe half a mile to the trail.

    I did this hike in 4.5 days so I doubt my itinerary will suit you.

    Enjoy the blackberry shakes.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    Not all of the waysides are open in April. I hiked it SOBO in the middle of May and the southern most wayside was not opening until the following weekend.

    Park your car at the Northern VA 4-H center. As long as you tell them in advance they are cool with it. Drive onto the property and keep going until you get to the pool. At the parking lot on the left you will see a tree with a blue blaze on it that's maybe half a mile to the trail.

    I did this hike in 4.5 days so I doubt my itinerary will suit you.

    Enjoy the blackberry shakes.
    If I was to say park here. Would a back country pass still be needed to hike the AT?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by trrubicon06 View Post
    If I was to say park here. Would a back country pass still be needed to hike the AT?
    define pass.

    a backcountry camping permit (free) is required to camp along the AT

    you would not need to pay an entrance fee ($15 for 7 days access or $30 for a years access, other options) if your car does not enter the park which it would not if you park at the 4-H center

    note I do not know the current procedure but it used to be the case you would need to contact the office at the 4-H center and sign a liability release form before parking your car there

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    CentralVaAT - below is an itenerary/trip report from my SNP thru this past summer.

    I had the opportunity to thru hike the SNP 30 Jul to 7 Aug. I was northbound. Below is a trip report of sorts.

    SNP North bound 7/30 – 8/7
    I thru hiked the SNP north bound from 7/30 – 8/7. The following are my observations on water, shelter and trail conditions for that period. Note: It rained 4 out of the 6 first days.

    Day 1 - Calf Mtn Shelter. Piped spring running slow. Estimate it took about an hour to fill a one liter bottle. The seeps coming out around the pipe likewise were running at a trickle. But the 2 catch pools someone dugout were full of water, a bit muddy but useable. I filtered from one of these. Was able to get a ˝ of a liter until my old msr sweat water filter broke. (Was able to get bailed out the following morning by my 73 year old trail angel Dad, who met me down at Turk Gap, loaned me his filter and even took me into Waynesboro on night 3 for dinner, a motel stay/shower and breakfast at Weasies the next morning. It was great fun having him knock out some miles with me.) Shelter and tent sites were all full. Folks had even set tents up right next to the shelter. I bushwhacked up slope from the shelter and sent up my tent on a rock ledge over-looking the shelter area. The shelter looked to be in good shape, must have been as all spaces were occupied. Trail leading to Calf Mtn. Shelter was in good shape.

    Day 2 - Blackrock Hut. Based on the over-crowding at Calf Mtn, and day 2 being a Saturday and there being 2 parking areas near Blackrock Hut I did not camp there. Instead I took Dad down Moormans River Trail down past where the stream crosses the trail and camped there. This maybe 8/10s to 1 mile South of Blackrock Hut. Moormans river trail is part of what used to be the Old AT. If you are uncertain about water availability at Blackrock I highly recommend Moormans River trail as an alternative. The 3 times I have been on it that 1st water source has never been an issue. I talked later with folks who stayed at Blackrock hut. Water from the pipe was slow but steady, shelter and tent sites were full. The trail between Calf mtn and Blackrock was in good shape. It rained hard over night. Dad headed back to his car via the drive, I headed north.

    Day 3 – Pinefield Hut. It rained pretty much all day. Water in the stream was flowing fine. Shelter and Campsites were empty. I swept out the shelter, filtered water, read and signed the shelter log. The trail around Loft Mtn Campground down to about the trail to the maintenance bldg and the Loft Mtn Wayside was in pretty rough shape. It was overgrown and it looked the bears had pulled down choke cherry trees and apple trees to get at the fruit. Trail was overgrown but very passable. As I am not out there maintaining I am not complaining, just sharing what I saw on that particular day. Dad walked down from parking area to the Hut and with not too much convincing by me we were off to Waynesboro for the night.

    Day 4 – Hightop Hut. Dad dropped me off at the parking area for Pinefield Hut. He drove North and I walked back down to the AT and headed north, it rained on and off during the day. Dad would park at various points along the way, and hike south to meet me and then hike back north with me to his car. Hightop hut spring was flowing fine. Someone had left a brillo pad at the spring. I got rid of it. Dad and I filtered water then went to talk with the folks at the shelter. Shelter was in good shape. Trail from Pinefield to High Top hut was in good shape. Dad and I continued north up to hightop summit. 2/10 of mile past the boxed spring where the concrete trail marker is Dad and I got off the trail and set up our tents. We had a good time relaxing at the high top overlook. Dad got some good pics of the sun setting. That night a heavy fog set in. May as well have been rain. In the morning I went back down to the boxed spring and filled our water bottles. Dad headed back down south to his car and I headed north. We met up at the parking area North of High Top Mtn. Dad re-filled my alcohol bottle, took my trash, gave me hug and headed back home and I continued north. It was great hiking with him again.

    Day 5 Bearfence Mtn Hut. It rained on and off this day. I stopped short of Bearfence and hiked off of the AT and onto campsite number 2 at Lewis Mtn Campground. I filled out the necessary info, paid my 15 dollars and vested the camp store for ice cream, Gatorade and a few items to add to my dinner and breakfast. As luck would have it the laundry facilities were not working. I did get to take a $1.00 five minute shower. Next morning I talked with 4 young jackalopes who stayed at bearfence. They said water was not a problem. Having the recent rains I am sure helped. No issue with the trail between Hightop and Bearfence.

    Day 6 Rockspring Hut. I stopped into Big Meadows Wayside for lunch. Bacon Cheese Burger Combo and Starbucks coffee. The 4 young jacklopes were finishing up their meal as I arrived. When I was leaving they were perfecting their yoging technique. I heard one gentleman offering to go in and buy them a box of fried chicken for the trail. Not sure if they took him up on it. An hour or so later as they zoomed past me on the trail I did not think to ask them if they were carrying chicken. I rolled into what is my favorite Hut site in SNP – Rockspring Hut. Folks from PATC were just finishing building a new moldering privy that they would install the next day. I swept out the shelter just in time for a father and his two sons to arrive. They were getting a section of the trail in prior to attending a wedding in Harrisonburg. As always the water was flowing fine from out beneath that big rock (boulder) form which the Hut gets its name. I pitched my tent up above. Trail between Bearfence and Rockspring was in good shape. I headed out early the next morning so I could get into Skyland for breakfast.

    Day 7 Byrd’s Nest #3 and Pass Mtn Huts. I got into Skyland in plenty of time for breakfast and plenty of refills on the starbucks coffee. The trail between Skyland and Byrd’s Nest 3 was great. No rain or clouds so those westward views were beautiful. I got into Byrd’s nest for lunch. I did not hike down to the spring, but Southbounders Hit and Miss had left a note in the shelter log saying that the spring was running fine. Just as I left Byrd’s nest thunder storms moved in. I played tag with them all the way down to the Panorama facility. It was thundering when I went by Mary’s Rock, so I did not go up. I went into Panorama hoping to get water. There are signs posted saying not to drink the water there before treating it, and that they have plans to put a well in at some point in the future. I left Panorama and headed for Pass Mtn Hut. Just after I arrived another evening thundershower hit. As it was raining I swept out the shelter. I noticed that the gutter was clogged and in between showers I cleaned it out. I started out that night in the shelter with 3 other folks who arrived around 8:30. I could not get comfortable and ended up gathering my gear and pitching my tent. The spring was running fine and strong. Skyline and his co-overseers have done a great job maintaining this Hut. The trail into Pass Mtn hut was fine. Once headed back north the trail is a bit over grown for a short while. Nothing major and no problems navigating.

    Day 8 – Gravel Springs Hut. I kicked along pretty good and rolled into Elkwallow Wayside for an early lunch and a minor re-supply for dinner and breakfast. Gravel Springs Hut spring was flowing fine. Although it and the small grassy area just above it had been turned into a playground by a youth group staying in the tent sites. I had a very pleasant dinner conversation with two very nice ladies who were finishing up their section through Virginia. We each were from Va Beach at various points in our life, so it as nice talking old times. The conversation was fun and entertaining and the after dinner drink and dessert was very much appreciated.

    Day 9 Tom Floyd Wayside. I stopped in on the way to my finishing point at the 4H Educational Center to grab a snack, rest my feet and sign the shelter log. The hut looks in great shape. I did not visit the spring. There is an Ash tree dying in front of the hut that could come down on the hut if the wind blows it that way.

    Furlough
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L’Amour

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    Registered User wvgrinder's Avatar
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    If you're going SOBO, you can park here in the lot by the swimming pool for free. There's a very short side trail that takes you right to the AT.
    "Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet."
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    Opps, forgot to post the link: http://www.nova4h.com/
    "Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet."
    -Thich Nhat Hahn

    http://www.cranberrymountainlodge.com/

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    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Most hikers park at the north end, get a shuttle to the south end, and hike north back to a waiting vehicle.

    Best place in the north to park is the 4-H Center. We can provide the shuttle, give you tips on good places to camp along the AT, and handle the paperwork for parking at the 4-H Center. Contact Rodney at Mountain & Valley Shuttle Service at www.snpshuttles.com, or call toll-free 1-877-789-3210.

    We put up two new signs in late 2009 identifying the blue blaze from the AT down to 4-H, as someone vandalized the old sign beyond readability. Has anyone been at that trail intersection recently to know if one or both signs are still there? If not, we will replace them ASAP. A lot of hikers--especially our shuttle clients--use 4-H for long-term parking and it's helpful (tho not absolutely necessary) to have that signage.

    Some folks have no problem completing the Park in four days, doing 25 miles per day. But IMHO that isn't typical except for thru-hikers in terrific trail shape and a few other strong hikers. Most others take at least seven days, perhaps up to 10 days, to hike the entire AT in SNP.

    To do the Park in two parts, Big Meadows is almost exactly the halfway point. Decent parking is available near the amphitheatre with a short walk to access the AT there. So if doing the southern "half," you could park there, get a shuttle to Rockfish Gap, and hike north to your awaiting vehicle. That should take most hikers about four days.

    To do the northern "half," you could park at 4-H, then get your shuttle to Big Meadows and hike north from there back to your awaiting vehicle. That should take three or more days for most hikers.

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    Skyline, I hiked this section this past X-mas eve.The signs were there,hung by bungee cords if I remember corectly,and they were very readable.I will be calling you tomorrow,have a question about shuttle availability on Sat.

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    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Front Royal Mike View Post
    Skyline, I hiked this section this past X-mas eve.The signs were there,hung by bungee cords if I remember corectly,and they were very readable.I will be calling you tomorrow,have a question about shuttle availability on Sat.


    Mike,

    Thanks for letting us know the signs made it for at least over a year. The ones held by bungee cords are the signs we put up.

    You would actually want to speak with Rodney a/k/a Rodman about shuttle availability. I'm just a PR guy these days. He can be reached at 1-877-789-3210 or through www.mvshuttle.com.

    Skyline
    .

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    Here's what I did:

    Called the 4H center. They told me to fax them my vehicle info and my arrival and estimated departure dates.

    Drove there and parked. Hit the blue blazed trail and then turned right to head SOBO. As you enter the park boundary there is a self registration box. Fill out the form, guestimate your itinerary (they're not nazis like GSMNP). Tie your registration to your pack and drop the copy into the box. Enjoy your hike!
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  17. #17
    AT 4,000 miler, LT Blissful's Avatar
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    I've done it both north and south. I believe north is easier, personally. You can check out my blog where I wrote about my journey that took place last autumn SOBO in October (look under Shenandoah under hiking blog categories and page down). I'd plan for a week.



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  18. #18

    Question SNP Northbound in early May

    Hi All,
    This is my first post and my very first AT hike. I am allowing 10 days, but may finish earlier. I may stay a middle night at a lodge. I don't want to carry a lot of water and am wondering about how easy it is to obtain water in Shenandoah NP. I will be getting the three maps of this section soon - are reliable water sources marked on these maps? Thanks for your help. KC

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    The only water issue I had when I hiked in May was at Blackrock Hut where the water was barely trickling out of a pipe.

    When you hit the waysides you can get topped off with water. I just brought my bottles inside and they filled them up for me.

    Also check the parks website and confirm when the waysides will be open.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  20. #20
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathy Cronin View Post
    Hi All,
    This is my first post and my very first AT hike. I am allowing 10 days, but may finish earlier. I may stay a middle night at a lodge. I don't want to carry a lot of water and am wondering about how easy it is to obtain water in Shenandoah NP. I will be getting the three maps of this section soon - are reliable water sources marked on these maps? Thanks for your help. KC

    This time of year, particularly this year, water sources are in great shape. In a few weeks the first of the commercial venues open and more will follow--adding to water resources. Once the threat of a freeze is over the Park will turn on remaining fountains at campgrounds and picnic areas (there are a few frost-free pumps operating year-'round anyway).

    If hiking later in the season, best bet would be to check with the Park or back here at WB. Gushing water in March/April can turn to a trickle or less by August/September if we have prolonged periods without rain.

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