View Full Version : planning Md section hike

02-19-2012, 20:59
I am planning a Md Section hike with my 12 year Daughter. We have hiked, but she has not done anything this big. I expect to do it in 4 days 3 nights from Penmar to HF. Where is the three top spots to stop and camp? If the first day goes well we may do it in 3/2. Any help would be great. Also, My Daughter is a fit 5' -110lbs. I ws thinking to limit her pack to 25 - 30 lbs. Any thoughts?


Nickbigly AKA Big PAPA

02-19-2012, 21:16
Depends on your first day. Lots of rocks that first section so it could slow you down. About 10 miles in is cowell shelter and 16+ is Annapolis Rocks. If Dahlgren's is open that would be a good 2nd night (23.7) they have showers, if not at 25.5 miles is Rocky Run. Ed Garvey at 34.6 is a good one for day 3. water source is way downhill though. I did mine a few years ago (without a short leg person with me :D) and did it with 2 stops. great to take out the next gen of hikers. Have fun

02-19-2012, 21:32
2 suggestions:

1. Keep your daughter's backpack no more than 25 lbs but aim for less on this first backpacking trip for her.

2. Garvey Shelter's water is down a steep slope. On the day you're camping there (Day 3 per Excuses' recommendation), stop at Gathland State Park, cook your dinner there, and then load up on water for the fairly easy 3 1/2 miles to Garvey. That way, you'll have water for your breakfast and whatever remainder you need for the finale into Harpers Ferry. Make sure to stop for the views at Weverton Cliffs before descending the ridge to the C&O Canal.

Have a great hike. Wish I had taken my daughters on a hike like that when they were around that age.

Sherpa Susan
02-19-2012, 21:36
My friend and I did this three years ago and we camped at Ensign Cowell, Dahlgren's, Annapolis Rocks and Garvey. We are talking about this at a library program at the Joppa Branch Library on February 29 - showing photos and equipment if you want to come.
It was really rocky the second day and very steep for two 5 feet tall women.

02-19-2012, 21:48
Thanks for the replies.....A lot of help.

Which shelter is at wolfs rd?

@cookerhiker ...I'll take you advise and keep that at < 25.

Big Papa

02-19-2012, 21:52
Ensign Cowall is .2 miles before, and at 12 i'd try abit less on the pack weight.

02-19-2012, 21:58
...Which shelter is at wolfs rd?..

Ensign Cowall Shelter is very close to Wolfsville Rd.

I trust you have the latest PATC maps for Maryland.

02-19-2012, 22:05

Seriously, I did the same with my son last year. I think your expectations for time and distance are unrealistic. One think I learned was to be patient and understanding. Frequent water and rest stops. I think it would be prudent to have an early bail out plan too. After one night and about 15 miles by son basically caved in. Much to his credit he went with me again and is still continuing to improve stamina. Seriously, If i was you I would try a 10 miler and plan on an over night stay to be realistic. Unless your girl is an Olympian grade athlete. Hope it turns out for you.

BTW, I was planing on doing the 45 mile MD section Apr 6-8. If you want to wait and do it with me that would be cool.

02-20-2012, 00:01
@Joel, Thanks...i'll take your advise and plan 4 days/ 3 nights. I worry more about me than her. I live within 2 hours of this enitire stretch and yes Wife is on stand by. But, The only way my Daughter would quit is if i did. Olympic grade...no....but she is an athelete. And...if I let her see that someone has doubted her..she will up and walk the entire AT just to show them... TeeHee! Thanks [email protected] excuses..I will adjust her pack as light as possible. Weather will determine that.

Big Papa

02-25-2012, 21:11
@ Susan .....It sound very interesting, but we live in Westminster and logistics on a week night make it impossible. Thanks for the information though.

everyone who replied to my original message....update...We walked 8.1 Catoctin loop with full pack...Daughter weighged in a 15 lbs. I think realistically she will be at 20. She did Great! I did well until I stopped at the end of the day.. I'll need to ad advil on my packing list...Tee hee!

Big Papa.

03-01-2012, 13:42
Not sure if I am getting in late on this or not (i.e. if you've already done this trip), but I did this exact trip only in reverse (from HF to Pen-Mar) last November. I camped at Raven Rocks Shelter, Pine Knob Shelter and Crampton Gap Shelter, and frankly most of the shelters were set up pretty nice for either staying in the shelter or setting up a tent nearby. There's also a large area with sites at Annapolis Rocks that looks like it would be neat to camp at. My main complaint with a few of the shelters was the hike to the water source.

As for the difficulty, I've only done a little over a third of the AT thus far, and MD was by a decent margin the easiest terrain I have encountered so far on the AT. So I don't think you'll have any issues with the proposed mileage especially since you already got out on a 8 mile day hike.

One other thing of note is that I think this section can get really crowded. I was expecting it to be sparse in mid-November, and I probably saw at least 100 people. They were all concentrated in between HF and Annapolis Rocks, with the main concentration being closer to Annapolis Rocks.

03-01-2012, 22:13
That's one of my favorite hikes. It's fun to walk into HF at the end.
The last time we did it, a few days before Thanksgiving (after I ran the JFK50), we stayed at the PATC's Bear Cabin which is down in a hollow after you go over Lamb's Knoll. Non-members can stay there for a nominal fee. Just for something new and interesting...
We did it in 3 days/2 nights with quite light packs, nothing over 20 lbs, but we have a lot of experience and can cover fair distances.
Good luck, sounds like a good trip with your daughter. Take 4 days/3 nights.

03-13-2012, 09:09
I've got it in my head to thru hike the whole AT one day...this after just walking the 2.5 miles to Annapolis Rocks from the parking lot off 70 the other day...(OK...you can stop it..I can see you laughing at me now), Well I figure I should start with the Maryland section like Big Papa....but I'm missing something, 45 miles in 4 days doesn't seem unrealistic...is it?

03-19-2012, 12:23
I've got it in my head to thru hike the whole AT one day...this after just walking the 2.5 miles to Annapolis Rocks from the parking lot off 70 the other day...(OK...you can stop it..I can see you laughing at me now), Well I figure I should start with the Maryland section like Big Papa....but I'm missing something, 45 miles in 4 days doesn't seem unrealistic...is it?

I did the same thing and I am now starting with the Md section in 2 weeks. I think 10 miles per day is realistic for a novice.

Big Papa

03-28-2012, 16:25
Good luck on your voyage

03-23-2016, 14:55
Late update. So, I completed the MD section back in 2012 with my oldest daughter who was not quite 13. We did it in 2 trips that year because the morning of day 3 we got drenched at Dahlgren and had tragic news from home. Completed the trip in July.

So fast forward..Youngest daughter and I will starting tomorrow to complete the MD section in one trip. Youngest daughter is just 14 and a great athlete. We are trying to get to POGO the first day. Does anyone know the status of this campsite? I don't remember this on my last trip.

03-31-2016, 13:56
I hiked by Pogo last fall. Primitive campsite but nothing remarkable as far as I could see, but I didn't go up to explore the site. There was a privy, as I recall, which is a bonus for a non-shelter site.

Well marked with signage from the AT so no chance you'll miss it. Hope this helps.

09-23-2016, 21:10
My first introduction to the AT was at age 14 with my dad, doing this exact section. :)

Day 1: Weverton to Crampton Gap Shelter (6.9 miles)
Day 2: Crampton Gap Shelter to Pine Knob Shelter (12.5 miles)
Day 3: Pine Knob Shelter to Raven Rock Shelter (8.2 miles)
Day 4: Raven Rock to PenMar Park (4.6 miles)

You of course could do it in reverse. Absolutely doable with a 10 year old! You can gauge the pack weight as you go, and carry her stuff as needed. This is a very friendly section of trail for a new hiker. Washinton Monument is fun, Raven Rocks, Gathland Park. When you cross over I-70 see how many cars you can get to honk at you. I got a kick out of that.