View Full Version : Shenandoah Stealth

08-29-2004, 14:51
I am planning on doing GA -VA next year, time permitting. I have heard several times about the not so TH friendly area, where you either have a very short day, or a near impossibly long one between shelters.

Is it not possible to stealth camp anywhere, or is this just not an option. Illegal if I am not mistaken. Corrections and suggestions?

08-29-2004, 17:34
Is it not possible to stealth camp anywhere, or is this just not an option.
For with God, nothing is impossible! Luke 1:37 Unintentional, I'm sure, but I find the juxtaposition of "possible" and "impossible" rather humorous.

08-29-2004, 17:35
LOL frosty, good thought!:)

But do you have an answer, I suppose possible was the wrong word to use. Hae you ever camped there ( not in a shelter)?;)

08-29-2004, 18:42
LOL frosty, good thought!:)

But do you have an answer, I suppose possible was the wrong word to use. Hae you ever camped there ( not in a shelter)?;)

Yup - we rarely use shelters. The answer is - you CAN camp at places other than the shelters. Check out the backcountry website at: http://www.nps.gov/shen/2i.htm

08-29-2004, 18:43
You need to check the current regulations, but I think you can camp (tent) anywhere in Shenandoah National Park except:

* Within 20 yards of a trail or unpaved road

* Within 10 yards of a stream or other water source

* Within 50 yards of standing building ruins

* Within 50 yards of another camping party or a "no camping" sign or post.

* Within 1/4 mile of any paved road, or partk facility such as a campground, picnic area, visitor center, lodge, wayside or restaurant.

* Within 100 yars from a hut, cabin, or day-use shelter, except at park constructed designated campsites near huts.

* In designated no camping areas including Limberlost, Hawksbill Mountain summit, Whiteoak Canyon, Old Rag Mountain summit, Big Meadows, and Rapidan Camp. (AT doesn't go over or thru any of these places anyway. But all good side trips (blue blaze trips) off the AT)

Now, that sounds like a lot of places where you can't camp. But, if you look around, there are ample places to bootleg camp, including just off the AT. I know that I have done it on my backpacking treks in SNP.

08-29-2004, 19:01
Thanks much.Your knowledge is appreciated:clap

08-29-2004, 19:49
Peaks is right on. Note, however, that getting more than 1/4 mile away from a road is really tough in SNP, as the Skyline drive parallels the trail rather closely. I violated the 1/4 mile rule on one of the three nights I was in the park, though no trouble arose. If you are going to do something like that, just try to be out of sight of the road, or atleast hidden, and don't set up until the sun has set.

Another thing to consider is that by the time you get to SNP, the miles will seem almost trivial. So, making the distance between multiple shelters isn't hard. When people say that Virginia is flat and easy, they are really refering to SNP: The rest of Virginia is just as hard, if not harder, than GA and NC.

08-29-2004, 20:07
What Chris said. The problem is that you have a safety issue in SNP. We know at least one case that women tenting with a companion in a seperate was no protection.

Look out for yoursself and consider that these regulations are in your interest.


08-30-2004, 05:36
My husband and I backpack in SNP on a regular basis. I have never felt that safety was an issue where it relates to other backpackers. There was an incident a few years ago, but that that was just a one time thing. I'm sure if you look at the whole trail, you can find many places where one idiot did something stupid! As always you have to be aware of your surroundings and the people you meet.

As far as camping not at a shelter...there are a few places you can camp near the AT that are not at shelters, but they are few and far between. It is very difficult to be 1/4 mile off the road and the trail with the parkway parralelling the trail. There are thousands of campsites on the blue blazed trails, but it depends on if you want to hike on those. If you are set on staying on the AT, the best bet is to go shelter to shelter. In SNP the terrain is not that rough and you can do 10-15 mile days without thinking about it. There are also 4 campgrounds along the way. Most of the trail is on a ridge and the park is skinny, so you won't find many camping spots along the trail.

SNP is a beautiful place to explore and has some of the prettiest trails I've ever seen. See www.ajheatwole.com/guide/ for great reference on SNP. We have taken numerous circuit hikes and found great places to camp using this!


08-30-2004, 07:36
Peaks has good info. Having done several trips and a thru of SNP I would add that when you play by the rules good tent sites can be hard to find. Hammock hangers have unlimited options. Out of site in areas where no one is expecting a camp provides extra security for those with that concern.

Blue Jay
09-02-2004, 07:58
The only problem I've had stealthing in the SNP is slugs getting on everything and leaving their slime. Try to find an open area. If you're in the brush you could get slimed.

09-02-2004, 08:32
Thanks Blue Jay, definately prefer a non-slime site:)

09-07-2004, 05:50
We just got back from spending the 3 day weekend in SNP. There are a few stealth camping spots along the AT, but I didn't see any near a water source. If you are willing to carry the water you will need, it is possible to stealth camp.

The rules from the back of my backcountry permit:

Camp at least:
10 yards from streams and other water sources
20 yards from trails and fire roads
50 yards from building ruins,other campers, 'no camping' post
100 yards from huts, day shelters, or cabins
1/4 mile from Park boundry, paved roads, developed areas

The terrain is relatively easy compared to earlier sections of the trail so you could probably go shelter to shelter.


09-28-2004, 11:23
With one exception, that being between Calf Mt. Shelter and Blackrock Hut, there is good camping near a water source roughly halfway between each overnight hut in SNP. Some are definitely legal; others, well, may require a little creativity to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind and are within the spirit of the regs if not precisely within the rules.

There used to be nearly twice as many SNP overnight shelters along the A.T. (we call them huts here) and some of the above referenced camping opportunities utilize the former shelter sites or closeby.

There is a handful of trail enthusiasts who would like these current stealth sites developed into clusters of 4 - 6 designated hardened tentsites (but NOT shelters), with bearpoles, and maybe eventually privies if they proved popular. IMO you could develop six of these clusters of tentsites for less money and volunteer labor than the creation of just one shelter, and ongoing maintenance would not require a huge effort. These sites would well-serve not only long-distance hikers who would have a pre-designated option other than, say, 15 miles (too short for many) or, in one case, 28 miles (kinda long for many)--but would definitely benefit novice backpackers who can't make the relatively long distances between current huts and have little or no primitive camping skills. From management and LNT points of view developing these clusters just make sense IMO--if you provide designated sites they will be used, and the rest of the backcountry is spared the effects of uneducated campers.

But there is also opposition, and getting anything like this accomplished in a government environment is a decade-long project.

When hiking the A.T. through SNP, you want to avoid camping at the dayuse-only Byrds Nests shelters, and the picnic areas. These are patrolled, and many hikers have received $50 citations or worse for camping illegally.