PDA

View Full Version : Massachusetts vs Virginia



HappyCamper852
01-28-2009, 22:48
My husband and I have section-hiked most of GA. We would now like to come back east (we're from Iowa) for two weeks sometime between May 11 and June 19, 2009. We have settled on hiking in MA or VA but can't decide which state. We're looking for solitude, scenery, a challenge, nice weather, and, of course, water. Any suggestions?

garlic08
01-28-2009, 22:59
I don't live either place so I'm not biased but I don't know anything about either place other than what I saw on my through hike.

I loved both places, but I would pick VA any time, but only because it's so big! Two weeks in MA seems a bit like overkill to me.

Hikerhead
01-28-2009, 23:12
My husband and I have section-hiked most of GA. We would now like to come back east (we're from Iowa) for two weeks sometime between May 11 and June 19, 2009. We have settled on hiking in MA or VA but can't decide which state. We're looking for solitude, scenery, a challenge, nice weather, and, of course, water. Any suggestions?

Va has all of that and more.

Nicksaari
01-28-2009, 23:54
Virginia. Grayson Highlands Northward---------->

Slo-go'en
01-29-2009, 00:12
I vote VA also. Only interesting area in MA is the at the CT/MA line.

Skyline
01-29-2009, 01:13
I'd hike from Daleville (US220) to Front Royal, if you're in trail shape. If not, then perhaps US60 to Front Royal. You'll get the solitude you seek south of SNP, and then you'll get...SNP. Both are worth your effort.

Sly
01-29-2009, 05:43
Since everyone is suggesting VA, I'll say MA.

You'll be able to hike at a very leisurely pace and hike from Salisbury, CT to Williamstown, MA. Highlights as noted are Sages Ravine, also include Race Mt, Jug End, the Ledges, Upper Goose Pond, and Mt Greylock.

It may be best to PM Cosmo (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/member.php?u=2541) about weather that time of year and a possible shuttle from Williamstown

Marta
01-29-2009, 08:05
My husband and I have section-hiked most of GA. We would now like to come back east (we're from Iowa) for two weeks sometime between May 11 and June 19, 2009. We have settled on hiking in MA or VA but can't decide which state. We're looking for solitude, scenery, a challenge, nice weather, and, of course, water. Any suggestions?

I see this is your first post. Wecome to Whiteblaze!

I'd also vote for VA. The Trail in MA is pretty, but it is also pretty suburban. The one night I spent in a shelter there, I could hear someone mowing his lawn not far away.

Also, that early in the year, the weather in VA should be pleasant, while MA may be pretty buggy. At higher elevations in VA, you'll see rhododendrons and lots of spring and early summer flowers.

Coming from so far away, probably the main criterion should be ease of travel to and from the trail heads.

burger
01-29-2009, 09:10
Blackfly season starts around Memorial Day in MA, so if you decide to head up here, I'd suggest doing it as early as possible within your window (unless you don't mind donating several pints of blood a day to the little guys).

BigBlue
01-29-2009, 09:16
Ditto, hike VA

HappyCamper852
01-29-2009, 09:38
I had a feeling most people would suggest VA based on some other discussions I read :-) Thank you all so much for your input. This is truly a wonderful site! I look forward to reading more and contributing when I can :)

Frick Frack
01-29-2009, 10:22
Virginia was my favorite state (it felt good to bet back in the south). VA has realitively easy hiking and very rewarding scenery. I remember MA as a swamp, mostly full of bugs and mud.

Sly
01-29-2009, 10:30
I remember MA as a swamp, mostly full of bugs and mud.

Ah come on, it wasn't that bad. It's the only place I've seen a porcupine in the wild. Freakin awesome.

Frick Frack
01-29-2009, 10:38
I did not mean to imply MA was "bad" (only PA was bad...maybe horrible)....just VA, at least for me, was hands down the pick btw the two. As for those porcupines that you admire so much, they chewed the handles to pieces on my wifes Leki's as they were leaned against a tree one night....in MA if I remember correctly.....:eek:

Sly
01-29-2009, 10:41
As for those porcupines that you admire so much, they chewed the handles to pieces on my wifes Leki's as they were leaned against a tree one night....in MA if I remember correctly.....:eek:

Ooops, need to keep those or anything else, especially shoes, with salt on it out of the way. Still cool animals.

Skyline
01-29-2009, 10:43
Ah come on, it wasn't that bad. It's the only place I've seen a porcupine in the wild. Freakin awesome.



Blood-sucking bugs and boot-devouring mud ruled the early June I did Massachusetts. YMMV. But seeing a porcupine in the wild would have been awesome!

Sly
01-29-2009, 10:46
No bugs or mud in VA?

squirrel bait
01-29-2009, 11:00
Welcome fellow Iowan. Our numbers are growing. Southern Va around Roanoke is a beautiful place and Dragons Tooth is awesome. Read here on WB all you can and search the forums for specific questions related to your interests. Good luck and again, Welcome.

Skyline
01-29-2009, 11:25
No bugs or mud in VA?


Of course we have bugs in VA. Mostly those aggravating little gnats, sometimes some skeeters. But not the northern black flies, which are the worst IMHO. It's just part of the woods and mountains, and hikers find ways to deal with black flies up north, but by hiking in VA instead of MA one can avoid them altogether.

Mud? After a long rain or snow-melt, our trails in the SNP region can get somewhat muddy. But our trail club (PATC) tries to be more proactive than what I witnessed in Massachusettsóby installing check-dams and waterbars to deflect water off the trail instead of letting water create mudholes. In Massachusetts, there were placesóquite a few placesówhere the mud was deep, trail-width, and unavoidable. Deep enough to make you think you'd stepped in quicksand the way it tried to claim your boots. That was in 2000. I really hope things have gotten better up there since then.

Chenango
01-29-2009, 11:43
If Mass, then I would start at Mt. Greylock and hike north into Vermont. That would be a nice hike.

Blissful
01-29-2009, 12:34
If you like mosquitos, go to MA
If you like ticks go to Shenandoah northward.

If you do VA, you will be in the thick of thru hikers at that time, just to let you know. Bring a tent.

Tinker
01-29-2009, 12:52
It might still be muddy in Ma. and you will definitely have to deal with blackflies. The trail in Va. along the Skyline Drive has better scenery, will be warmer, and is more remote (except for the Drive). I haven't done Grayson Highlands, but I've seen enough pictures of it that I look forward to doing that section in the future, myself.
Plus- you get that "southern hospitality" in Va. :). In New England we have "cranky Yankees" :D.

Tinker
01-29-2009, 12:55
Ooops, need to keep those or anything else, especially shoes, with salt on it out of the way. Still cool animals.

Yet another reason to hang your hammock HIGH! :eek:

DavidNH
01-29-2009, 14:20
hands down go to Virginia. I'd suggest from Damasucs north which goes over Greyson highlands. But most any part of VA is nice.

MA will give you mud and bugs!!

David

DavidNH
01-29-2009, 14:21
hands down go to Virginia. I'd suggest from Damasucs north which goes over Greyson highlands. But most any part of VA is nice.

MA will give you mud and bugs!!

David


Hmm but then again.. in Mass you can visit Friendlys! Awesome ice cream!!!

Far as I know, there are No Friendly's south of Mass.

Slo-go'en
01-29-2009, 14:25
Yet another reason to hang your hammock HIGH! :eek:

Porkies climb trees! I woke up one morning to a porkie about to lick the salt off my nose at shelter in Vermont. Don't know who was more suprised when I opened my eyes, me or the porkie :eek:

Sly
01-29-2009, 14:27
I don't recall mud like Vermont or Maine but I do remember some mosquitoes one night in late July. There's lots of cool stuff in MA. The towns, bars, a few hostels, & ponds. Speaking of ice cream, there's Tom Levardis.

One consideration, they'll only be able to hike a quarter of VA vs all of MA.

I'd get in touch with Cosmo, he knows western MA and the trail as well as anyone.

Sly
01-29-2009, 14:29
Porkies climb trees! I woke up one morning to a porkie about to lick the salt off my nose at shelter in Vermont. Don't know who was more suprised when I opened my eyes, me or the porkie :eek:

Yeah, that what I saw. First he scurried across the trail, so I followed him and then he started climbing a tree. I was like whoa! :eek:

garlic08
01-29-2009, 15:39
Hmm but then again.. in Mass you can visit Friendlys! Awesome ice cream!!!

Far as I know, there are No Friendly's south of Mass.

Gosh, I loved that place. They didn't even give you a pickle or a piece of lettuce on your fried sandwich, not even a pretense of being good for you, just fried food and ice cream. Hiker heaven!

mikec
01-29-2009, 15:41
I'm from VA so I have to vote VA. However, I completed my MA section last year and there were some nice areas like Greylock, Goose Pond and Sages Ravine.

Lone Wolf
01-29-2009, 15:44
Gosh, I loved that place. They didn't even give you a pickle or a piece of lettuce on your fried sandwich, not even a pretense of being good for you, just fried food and ice cream. Hiker heaven!

CT and RI have friendlys

Frick Frack
01-29-2009, 15:51
CT and RI have friendlys

Yeah, nothing like the Dairy King though.....

JAK
01-29-2009, 15:52
My husband and I have section-hiked most of GA. We would now like to come back east (we're from Iowa) for two weeks sometime between May 11 and June 19, 2009. We have settled on hiking in MA or VA but can't decide which state. We're looking for solitude, scenery, a challenge, nice weather, and, of course, water. Any suggestions?Solitude, Scenery, Challenge, Nice Weather, Water

Can one find solitude on the AT in May/June ?


Which is the better of the two states in each of these categories?
I'm also curious why it was narrowed down to just VA and MA?

Frick Frack
01-29-2009, 15:59
Solitude, Scenery, Challenge, Nice Weather, Water

Can one find solitude on the AT in May/June ?


Which is the better of the two states in each of these categories?
I'm also curious why it was narrowed down to just VA and MA?

Ditto...19E in TN south to Hot Springs, NC or Davenport Gap, NC (Standing Bear Hostel) would be my pick if open to TN/NC

jlb2012
01-29-2009, 16:18
Hmm but then again.. in Mass you can visit Friendlys! Awesome ice cream!!!

Far as I know, there are No Friendly's south of Mass.

per the Friendly's website there are Friendly's in VA - Warrenton and Fredricksburg for example

jigsaw
01-29-2009, 17:16
if your going to hike in may then go to va. no question about it.there's nothing but bugs and mud here then.if you want to come to mass the time to be here is the end of sept into october.

Pedaling Fool
01-29-2009, 17:46
if your going to hike in may then go to va. no question about it.there's nothing but bugs and mud here then.if you want to come to mass the time to be here is the end of sept into october.
copy that

Kanati
01-29-2009, 18:29
My husband and I have section-hiked most of GA. We would now like to come back east (we're from Iowa) for two weeks sometime between May 11 and June 19, 2009. We have settled on hiking in MA or VA but can't decide which state. We're looking for solitude, scenery, a challenge, nice weather, and, of course, water. Any suggestions?

Solitude: Won't find much in either state on the AT from mid May/Mid June

Scenery: Both are good, but I think you will find VA hasthe edge. In two
weeks while enjoying the scenery you probably make 150 miles.
The Dragons Tooth, Tinker Cliffs area in VA would be nice.

Challenge: No real challenges in either state but The Dragons Tooth
is pretty good. Some rock scrambling.

Nice Weather: Probably VA has the edge. New England had exceptional
rainfall last year and the mosquitos were horrible. I fought
them tooth and toenail while pitching my tent, then I
would dive inside, zip the screen and declare war on
the ones that chased me in. I've got a feeling that with
normal rainfall it wouldn't be much different.

Water: Not a problem in either place. I did more purifying in MA than VA


Happy hiking. :sun

Skyline
01-29-2009, 19:11
Hmm but then again.. in Mass you can visit Friendlys! Awesome ice cream!!!

Far as I know, there are No Friendly's south of Mass.


Friendly's was "born" in Massachusetts, but here again we must mention Virginia. :banana


There are Friendly's all over the Commonwealth. Warrenton, Fredericksburg, Burke, Sterling, and Richmond come to mind. :cool:

Cosmo
01-30-2009, 19:01
Two weeks could do MA and a nice chunk of S VT. Most of what folks have said about MA is true. In May/June you will be in part of the blackfly season. Can't say how bad it will be--not any thing like Maine. Solitude is not a big feature of MA either, but the trail does traverse some pretty big State Forests, and there is definitely a sense of being a small thing in the big world. S VT is very un-developed. We will have plenty of water (and probably some attendant mud through mid June). The trail is not terribly aggressive, there are some steep/rugged parts, but they don't go on for miles. A good variety of landscapes. I like it.

Cosmo


Since everyone is suggesting VA, I'll say MA.

You'll be able to hike at a very leisurely pace and hike from Salisbury, CT to Williamstown, MA. Highlights as noted are Sages Ravine, also include Race Mt, Jug End, the Ledges, Upper Goose Pond, and Mt Greylock.

It may be best to PM Cosmo (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/member.php?u=2541) about weather that time of year and a possible shuttle from Williamstown

Rambler
02-01-2009, 10:33
I was hiking along the AT in MA and I met a boy about 12 thru-hiking with both his dad and grandfather. I asked him what had been his favorite section of his hike. He said in VA wtih the wild ponies. Grayson Highlands State Park just north of Damascus. Call Mt. Rogers Outfitters in Damascus 276-475-5416 and ask them when the Rhododendrons bloom in the Park. My daughter and I hiked through Rhododendron Gap when it was in full bloom. I think it was end of April or early May.
BTW I live in Mass. June is my favorite month, but hike in VA. Hike MA in the fall, late Sept., early Oct. Crisp clear days and foliage. "Leaf Peepers" come to New England from all over the world, but you won't see many of them on the AT. Hike New England Aug - October.

hopefulhiker
02-01-2009, 10:53
I vote for VA.. Grayson Highlands, Tinkers Cliffs, the Southern part of VA..

Rambler
02-01-2009, 13:10
If you want to hike in the Shenandoahs (SNP) s a good source would be the owner at Ye Old Backpackers Store in Port Clinton, PA. He hikes there a lot.
610-562-2322 I do not remember his name but he talked to me about it and told me to call anytime about hiking in the SNP.

Slo-go'en
02-01-2009, 14:02
Hike MA in the fall, late Sept., early Oct. Crisp clear days and foliage.

But don't do early/mid September! Collage freashman orrination groups fill up every shelter and most of the tent sites from NJ to NH during this time.

But it can be fun if you run into the right group and they will often feed you. I spent a night with a group from Willimstown collage and there was an older kid from India in the group. He was totally amazed by campfires and Somores. He kept saying " I can't belive all this! I love this country!". The things we all take for granted.

johnnybgood
02-01-2009, 16:08
If you want to hike in the Shenandoahs (SNP) s a good source would be the owner at Ye Old Backpackers Store in Port Clinton, PA. He hikes there a lot.
610-562-2322 I do not remember his name but he talked to me about it and told me to call anytime about hiking in the SNP.
Plenty of posters here on WB can also answer your questions regarding SNP including myself. Feel free to PM me anytime .

HappyCamper852
03-27-2009, 08:03
Solitude, Scenery, Challenge, Nice Weather, Water

Can one find solitude on the AT in May/June ?


Which is the better of the two states in each of these categories?
I'm also curious why it was narrowed down to just VA and MA?


We narrowed it down to Virginia and Maine based on the descriptions on the ATC website. We focused on the weather (best times to go) and difficulty. We wanted something a little challenging or a variety.

I have taken lots of notes on everyone's suggestions. Thank you so much!

superman
03-27-2009, 08:22
The people are nicer and not as funny looking as in MA.:)

Cookerhiker
03-27-2009, 09:00
We narrowed it down to Virginia and Maine based on the descriptions on the ATC website. We focused on the weather (best times to go) and difficulty. We wanted something a little challenging or a variety.

I have taken lots of notes on everyone's suggestions. Thank you so much!

I highly recommend saving Maine (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=117045) until the mid-August to mid-September timeframe or a bit later if you want to see Fall colors. By mid-August, the bugs are largely gone.

As others have noted, Virginia has a lot going for it that time of year.

Re Massachusetts, your original idea: I section-hiked Massachusetts in 2 parts. Did the northern half in October (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=73554) and the southern portion in April (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=94198), so I missed the bugs and had nice weather except for one day of all-day rain. The April hike was glorious, having the best of all worlds: warm sunshine with patches of snow still present. The ponds were beautiful and I thought at the time that 2-3 months later, they'd be hot, humid, and mosquito-infested.

Blue Jay
03-27-2009, 12:23
But don't do early/mid September! Collage freashman orrination groups fill up every shelter and most of the tent sites from NJ to NH during this time.

That's actually a reason to DO that section at that time. They have very good food in very large quantities and are almost always willing to share. Since you are going slow I'm surprised you did not talk to them.

Blue Jay
03-27-2009, 12:27
Sorry, I reread and saw you did talk to them, so I'm confused. Oh well won't be the first time.:banana

Lemni Skate
05-10-2009, 15:56
I run into a lot of thru hikers while I knock around Shenendoah and all the Northbounders rave about Grayson Highlands. I've yet to hear a Southbounder rave about Massachuttes.

By the way, these are not states. Virginia and Massachuttes are both Commonwealths (I have no idea what the difference is).

I think if you start at Damascus you'll get a nice taste of a trail town, head north and you'll get to the aforementioned Grayson Highlands and if you want a side trip you could even scale Mount Rogers (highest peak in Virginia--with only NC and TN having higher mountains east of the Mississippi--maybe NH--but I don't think so). Once you leave GHSP you get to the section of trail that Backpacker magazine says is the least crowded of the whole thing--SW Virginia north of Grayson Highlands.

KMACK
05-10-2009, 18:18
I'll be sectioning Mass this summer, in pits and pieces...but only because its close to home.

Homer&Marje
05-10-2009, 18:22
I was hiking along the AT in MA and I met a boy about 12 thru-hiking with both his dad and grandfather. I asked him what had been his favorite section of his hike. He said in VA wtih the wild ponies. Grayson Highlands State Park just north of Damascus. Call Mt. Rogers Outfitters in Damascus 276-475-5416 and ask them when the Rhododendrons bloom in the Park. My daughter and I hiked through Rhododendron Gap when it was in full bloom. I think it was end of April or early May.
BTW I live in Mass. June is my favorite month, but hike in VA. Hike MA in the fall, late Sept., early Oct. Crisp clear days and foliage. "Leaf Peepers" come to New England from all over the world, but you won't see many of them on the AT. Hike New England Aug - October.

Agreed. Fall is the time up here. Spent a week in Shenandoah and can't wait to go back some day.

pknight212
05-18-2009, 18:02
My family used to have a lake house up in MA only a few miles from the trail in Dalton, so I grew up hiking all over northern MA and am naturally biased toward that state. It is not yet thru-hiker season, but most of the trail here is fairly accessible, so expect to see a fair number of day trippers. There are some muddy spots, which I'd imagine would be worse this time of year, but I've never found them to be especially bad myself. Guess I'm just used to it!

As has been mentioned before, there are several beautiful spots, such as Sages Ravine and Greylock that are well worth a trip. And with 2 weeks, you can definitely explore some of VT as well, which is gorgeous. You can also expect to find more in the way of solitude up here, especially in southern VT. And yes, Friendlys alone is a good enough reason to pick MA. :p

I'm planning a section hike of CT and MA in the next couple weeks myself...hope to see ya out there!

Tinker
05-18-2009, 21:35
My husband and I have section-hiked most of GA. We would now like to come back east (we're from Iowa) for two weeks sometime between May 11 and June 19, 2009. We have settled on hiking in MA or VA but can't decide which state. We're looking for solitude, scenery, a challenge, nice weather, and, of course, water. Any suggestions?


Va. - No contest. I hiked a bit in Shenandoah Nat. Park and have driven most of Skyline Drive. Very nice. Mass. Is ok, but beautiful scenery isn't what comes to mind for me. It's woods, swamp, low hills with limited views, etc. Oh, and lots of road crossings (not the same as crossing Skyline Drive).

Tinker
05-18-2009, 21:37
I'll be sectioning Mass this summer, in pits and pieces...but only because its close to home.

Come on, don't you mean pits and bieces? :D :rolleyes:

Blue Jay
05-19-2009, 20:59
Blackfly season starts around Memorial Day in MA, so if you decide to head up here, I'd suggest doing it as early as possible within your window (unless you don't mind donating several pints of blood a day to the little guys).

I love Mass. but do Virginia in June. Blackflys are bad here already, they'll be gone in July.

Lemni Skate
05-19-2009, 21:13
One more thing. I really can't believe Mass is muddier than Virginia this spring. Many, we've had a lot of rain.

fredmugs
05-21-2009, 12:09
I hiked from the Hudson river to Cheshire Mass two weeks ago. It wasn't that muddy but the field walks were soaking wet. You could avoid the mud for the most part.

Tomorrow I am going from Atkins down to Damascus. If it's just as muddy I'll be happy.

Blissful
05-21-2009, 19:36
That will be a nice hike. Enjoy

pknight212
05-23-2009, 22:17
went out for a 20 miler in MA today from Grange Hall Rd in Dalton up to Greylock. THe mud wasnt bad at all in this section. There were a couple down tress that had not been cleared, which was more of a nuisance. Bugs werent that bad either, but got worse as i got closer to the summit...probably just because I was moving slower so they had more time to feast on me :p

buckwheat
05-24-2009, 09:55
I vote VA also. Only interesting area in MA is the at the CT/MA line.

Perhaps, but the AT traverses Massachusetts' largest mountain - Mount Greylock - on the Mass/Vermont border in the Berkshires mountains. Also some slightly lessor peaks, but still some of the higher ones you'll find in Massachusetts.

I recently summitted Mt. Greylock and found it very pretty:

http://img199.imageshack.us/img199/8718/cimg0114.jpg

(Above) That is Money Brook.

http://img199.imageshack.us/img199/1486/cimg0134.jpg


(Above) The payoff view from the summit (3,600 feet).

You will also summit Mt. Fitch (3,100 feet) and Mt. Williams (2,851 feet).

http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/1657/mountwilliamssummit.jpg

Cheers

saimyoji
05-24-2009, 18:02
va is for lovers.....mass is for holes....


'nuff said.

wolf
08-02-2009, 20:19
If You Like Water And Bugs Then Pick Mass If You Like Peace And Dry Then Pick Va. I Will Be There In Sept. Cant Wait

Blissful
08-02-2009, 22:03
Not dry in VA this year so far....