View Full Version : 1st hike in SNP next week

Dog Guide
07-09-2010, 08:51
Well, as a result of of quick layoff I find I have the next 2 weeks available and I am going to pursue a dream. I have been wanting to section hike the AT for many years now but with work and family I could never use that 1-2 week vacation for myself but no I am going to.

I would like some input on which section to hike. I am thinking from Big Meadow and head South for 5-6 days but I was wondering

1) how crowded that part of the trail would be about now?

2) How scenic ?

3) how suitable to hammock camping?

4) Water supply

5) how to get back to my Jeep without hiking halfway South and then turning around.

I am in WV and would love some experienced advice? Planning on doing "minimalist" backpacking with only a 2000 CI pack, hammock and bug screen, camera, homemade gas stove and clothing.

Thanks for any tips.:clap:clap

Lemni Skate
07-09-2010, 09:12
1) Obviously, it will be more crowded in the summer than winter, but actually fall is the big time. You'd also be surprised how few of the people who drive the Skyline Drive never touch a trail. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how empty the AT is, particularly south of Big Meadows. The thru-hiker bulge has also passed through the park already so this could be a good tie to be in Shenandoah.

2) Green tunnel with occasional stops at points with great views. If you appreciate beautiful little flowers and ferns then you'll be okay. If you have to have constant Glacier National Park 360 degree panoramas then SNP is not for you.

3) Hammock camping is easy here. Just make sure you register before you start.

4) The Central section of the park is loaded with water, but the South section is not. Don't miss a chance in the Southern section to water up. Still, you won't go too long without water. Pop out at picnic areas and waysides when you get the chance for some water, also. SNP has had very little rain in late June and July after a particularly wet winter and spring, so I'm not sure how the springs are flowing.

5) There are lots of trail angels living in Waynesboro. When you come out at the southern end of the park (Rockfish Gap), there is a visitors center and there are phone numbers of many of these people there. Many of them would probably give you a ride back to your car. It would be cool if you paid them a little bit for their time and gas.

Weather will likely be hot, so wake up early and take advantage of the mornings. I loved hiking this section of the park (especially the Southern Part) as it feels more remote than the Northern section. The trail will take you by a camp store once for resupply (If you're heading southbound take the first trail to the store). Shelters are all a good day's hike apart. You'll see deer until they become mundane and I estimate at least three bear sightings (these won't become mundane).

Have fun!

07-09-2010, 09:45
Don't be afraid to blue blaze off the ridge, great stuff. I did a weekend of backpacking there in Mid-August last year. And was surprised at how few people I saw on the trails (~25 all weekend). It was also blackberry/blueberry time and the bears were all over. Saw 9, including getting within 10 feet of one in the blackberries that I didn't hear/see until I was scary close.

07-09-2010, 09:54
Not long after you cross Rt. 33 at Swift Run Gap and enter the South District, you'll cross Skyline Drive and then hike 1.5 miles up to HighTop Mountain, the highest point on the AT in the South District. It's a wonderful place to camp. There's a rocky outcrop to the west where you'll see fabulous sunsets, weather permitting. There's even a spring on top just off the Trail. Don't miss it!

07-09-2010, 23:45
Hiking 5-6 days south from Big Meadows at 10 miles per day will get you to the AT terminus in SNP . If your hiking pace gets you to Rockfish Gap with a day to spare , continue on the AT to Reeds Gap (664) , mile 13 on the Blue Ridge Pkwy.

The Hightop campsite is indeed a great place to set up for the night.

Water in the southern district beginning at Blackrock Hut (mile 87)to Calf Mountain (99) will be slim to none and l suggest loading up at Loft Mountain Campground (mp79) . While you're there you can grab a meal at the wayside by 5pm ,and do laundry & shower at the camp store .

There will be many opportunities to hang in that southern section .

Bears are plentiful in the park so practice hanging or using a bear cannister.