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jax_o's_fan
03-25-2012, 13:48
Hello all and thanks for reading. After waffling on whether or not to do our annual sprink hike, my friend and I decided we are going to hit Shen. It is only about 2.5 weeks out at this point. He was thinking of us going from Thornton gap to Swift run gap. I have just started researching it on my end. Any advice, tips, et cetera would be appreciated. We are going to have 1 vehicle. We can either do a loop or hitch hike or shuttle or whatever.

How are the water levels around this area? Are there bug concerns in early April?

Is the shelter situation similar to the SMNP where you aren't supposed to pitch your tent unless the shelter is full?

Thanks in advance for any advice

Cookerhiker
03-25-2012, 14:00
The Park requires a permit which you can pick up when you pass the entrance station. Unlike the Smokies, you are not required to stay in or camp near the shelters. The Park has some rules which you can discern from their website but in general, you're more flexible in SNP than along the AT in NJ or CT for example.

Hitching is viable, especially on a weekend when there are more people out. I suggest you start on a Sunday, leave your car by the entrance station, and hitch to your starting point, hike back to your car.

Can't speak to current water levels. Bugs shouldn't normally be an issue although this year's early hot Spring weather threw everything out of wack.

johnnybgood
03-25-2012, 14:36
As Cookerhiker has stated,the park has no restrictions on shelters like the Smokies but a free backcountry permit is needed. I will also mention that Big Meadows Wayside is now open for the season and Lewis Mtn Campground will open in 2 weeks. The best way to get to Big Meadows from the AT that requires little effort ,(0.9 mile flat walking) is to exit the trail at the campground as you're circling around behind it.
Lewis Mtn. Campground store is a very short walk from where the trail intersects the side trail that empties out on the outer loop . The store can provide hikers with a limited supply of typical hiker food and is much closer to the trail.
As far as water goes, I'm sure the storms of the last several days have helped out plenty in that regard. Bugs might get an early start this season as the temps have been well above average for the first week of spring.

Ashman
03-25-2012, 14:53
I hiked that section last summer with my kids. We didn't have to pump water the entire trip. There are enough waystations and campgrounds that you can get it out of the tap no filtering. That said, we took ours anyway just in case.

jax_o's_fan
03-25-2012, 16:20
I hiked that section last summer with my kids. We didn't have to pump water the entire trip. There are enough waystations and campgrounds that you can get it out of the tap no filtering. That said, we took ours anyway just in case.

The only section I've done in Virginia is near Dragon's Tooth to down past Tinker Cliffs. Awesome section. So is this Thornton Gap section worthy of doing? Knowing that you only got to do a couple of 4 day hikes like this per year?

If not...I'll take suggestions for other 4 day 3 night hikes. Generally we do 8-10ish miles per day.

Cookerhiker
03-25-2012, 17:10
The only section I've done in Virginia is near Dragon's Tooth to down past Tinker Cliffs. Awesome section. So is this Thornton Gap section worthy of doing? Knowing that you only got to do a couple of 4 day hikes like this per year?

If not...I'll take suggestions for other 4 day 3 night hikes. Generally we do 8-10ish miles per day.

There's nothing as dramatic as Dragons Tooth or Tinker Cliffs but it's worth doing for the viewpoints and wildflowers. Also if you want to take the time, the waterfalls should be flush if you're willing to hike down and back up again. Lewis, Dark Hollow, White Oak Canyon, South River are all nice in the Spring. Another side trail to take is up to Hawks Bill - the highest point in the Park.

johnnybgood
03-25-2012, 17:22
We did this section ending at Lewis Mtn in late September as the fall colors were just starting to change in the upper elevations. After the climb from Thornton Gap you're immediately rewarded with a 180 degree view just a few steps beyond the AT.

A ridge walk will give you more opportunties to snap pictures and enjoy the vistas. A very nice section with a few stretches of PA rocks thrown in to acclimate yourself to the AT in that state.:D

jax_o's_fan
03-27-2012, 07:49
Are there shelters along this section? My map of the area has not arrived yet. I always have a tent, but I was curious about the shelters.

Cookerhiker
03-27-2012, 08:00
From Thornton Gap going south:

Rock Spring Hut - 14 miles
Bear Fence Hut - 26 miles

jax_o's_fan
03-27-2012, 09:16
From Thornton Gap going south:

Rock Spring Hut - 14 miles
Bear Fence Hut - 26 miles

Thank you for all of your input. Can't wait to go.

KnotHere
03-27-2012, 10:10
Both of these should help you. Bugs and wter do not seem to be an issue. Weekends will be full of park visitors and weekenders so I agree with Starting on a Sunday.

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/find-a-hike/interactive-map <- Click and Zoooooom
http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/upload/whole_park.pdf

SALT LIFE!!

jax_o's_fan
03-29-2012, 15:41
If we leave a car at swift run gap, does anyone know of a shuttle service to take me back up to thornton gap? April 12th is the date that I'll be doing this.

Cookerhiker
03-29-2012, 16:17
Personally as I said in Post #2, I'd hitch but if you're uncomfortable with that, here's the ATC list: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/find-a-hike/parking-shuttles-transportation

There's a PATCer out of Waynesboro named Bill Gallagher (sp) - I'll try to find contact info on him.

johnnybgood
03-29-2012, 18:11
Pam Bennett also shuttles hikers through SNP.
She is on the ATC list : 540.447.6882

jax_o's_fan
03-30-2012, 07:29
Personally as I said in Post #2, I'd hitch but if you're uncomfortable with that, here's the ATC list: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/find-a-hike/parking-shuttles-transportation

There's a PATCer out of Waynesboro named Bill Gallagher (sp) - I'll try to find contact info on him.

My first time hitch hiking was last October. We made the boneheaded mistake of leaving the end car keys in the beginning car. So we hitch hiked back to the beginning car. After walking five miles ( on the highway ) a very nice gentleman picked us up. This was while we were walking the foothills trail in South Carolina. I've never been to Shenandoah but it sounds like there will be a lot more hikers, and a lot more cars. I'm just worried that if I had to walk several hours on the highway, that it would throw off my schedule. I only get 2 days off of work and I'm combining that with a weekend.

Maybe this is one of those times where I need to just let go and put my faith in mankind and see what happens : )

jax_o's_fan
04-03-2012, 21:28
Ok the map has arrived. So now I have a couple questions if you don't mind.

I'm still undecided on which entrance to start from either Swift Run Gap and finish at thornton or vice versa. But for now starting at swift run gap and hiking north to thornton.

So Roughly 8.9 miles on day 1 and we'll reach Bearfence Mtn Hut. Perfect

Day 2 roughly 11.5 we'll reach Rock spring hut - perfect

Day 3 I don't see any shelters. I see that we'll hit skyland after about 4 miles. Is there camping here or just a resort?

Day 4 we'll walk out at Thornton gap.

We don't mind using our tents ( sometimes I prefer it to crowded shelters ). So would you skip skyland and find a spot a few miles past it to camp for night 3? I'd like the 4th day to be a relatively short hike out so we can drive back to baltimore so i can hop my flight back to FL.

Also I keep hearing about pay showers. Are there any on the stretch that I'm referring to?
I see a couple of waterfalls that aren't too far off of the A.T. I'm definitely going to try to hit those. Is there anything else in this stretch that I should hop off of the A.T. to see?

Thanks in advance

earlyriser26
04-03-2012, 21:51
I did this hike two years ago in April. You do get several nice views and the trail is fairly easy. I don't remember any camping at Skyland (we stayed in a room). Also, the guide book doesn't show camping. I would just get a room if that works for you.

GoldenBear
04-03-2012, 22:43
So I can answer a lot of questions.

> we'll hit skyland after about 4 miles. Is there camping here or just a resort?

It's a resort. Indeed, it was one of the first tourist resorts in the area that became Shenandoah.

> So would you skip skyland and find a spot a few miles past it to camp for night 3?

Keep walking. As noted in this URL
http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/campbc_regs.htm
"No camping may occur ... within mile of a paved road, park boundary, or park facilities such as a campground, picnic area, visitor center, lodge, wayside, or restaurant."

So you won't be able to pitch a tent till you're past this area.


> Also I keep hearing about pay showers. Are there any on the stretch that I'm referring to?

As this pdf notes
http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/upload/big_meadows_campground.pdf

there are pay showers at Big Meadows, between the picnic area and the camping area.


> Is there anything else in this stretch that I should hop off of the A.T. to see?

If the air is clear, take a couple minutes to view the scenery from the overlooks.
http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=46342&catid=member&imageuser=13863
http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=40606&catid=member&imageuser=13863

KnotHere
04-03-2012, 23:27
Pm me with the time you'd need a lift. I pass swift run every to and from work.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Cookerhiker
04-04-2012, 08:24
The other side trail you may want to consider is up to the summit of Hawksbill - the highest point in SNP. The side trail is a few miles of Big Meadows.

jax_o's_fan
04-04-2012, 08:50
Thank you all so much for taking the time to help me plan this.