View Full Version : Help me plan a 4 day trip in the Shenandoah

08-08-2012, 16:12
I need help planning a 4 day/ 3 night trip in the shenandoah in early september. It's gonna be my wifes first trip, so looking to take it tairly easy. I heard that there are a lot of resupply point on the trail where you can get real food. That should help take some of the roughing it part of backpacking away for a first timer. What is a nice scenic section of the AT in the park to do a 4 day section? How often does one come across water sources in the park?


08-08-2012, 16:30
Hike the central section of the SNP. Water is not a problem. In the central section there are 2 camp grounds with showers. 2 camp stores, two lodges, 4 restarunts. and is a beautiful section of the park.

08-08-2012, 16:38
Hike the central section of the SNP. Water is not a problem. In the central section there are 2 camp grounds with showers. 2 camp stores, two lodges, 4 restarunts. and is a beautiful section of the park.

Thanks, whats a good starting point in that area. Is it easier to head NOBO or SOBO

08-08-2012, 20:04
Shenandoah is great - my wife and I hiked the Central and North sections a few years ago in June, and loved it. We did this itinerary:

Day 1: Start at US 33 at Swift Run Gap, then hike ~10 miles to Bearfence Hut, tented on one of the tent sites.
Day 2: 16 miles to Skyland Resort, where we got a cabin and had a nice dinner at the lodge. We stopped at Big Meadows at the 8-mile mark for a long break in the Wayside (restaurant/store.) Great day, maybe a couple of miles too long. You can stay at Big Meadows either in the lodge or the campground.
Day 3: 13 miles to Pass Mountain Hut, camped at a tent site. Very nice.
Day 4: 13 miles to Gravel Springs Hut, camped at a tent site. Great hike over Hogback. Stopped at Elkwallow Wayside for a meal and ice cream.
Day 5: 13 miles to the US 522 road crossing at Front Royal.

Averaging 13 mpd in SNP was relatively easy even for out of shape section hikers like us. (Thru hikers can do the entire park in 3 or 4 days.) If you wanted to shorten it, there are several ways to do that. Remember that you can park pretty much anywhere in the park at a trailhead or wayside, then get a ride or hitch to your starting point, so there are a lot of places to get on or off the AT.

Given that it's her first trip, you may want to cut it a little, maybe start at Swift Run Gap, go to Bearfence, then Big Meadows, then Skyland, then out at Thorton Gap at US 211. (Note, if you so this I would *strongly* recommend going northbound.)

Great time of year, great park, have fun!

08-08-2012, 20:15
I never recommend a new hiker ever go more than 10 miles a day. Do the central section.

08-18-2012, 10:14
After some reaserch, swift run to panorama seems like the route will will take for a 4 day 3 night AT hike in the park. How often will we come across water, and how hard is it to find campsites along the trail?

08-18-2012, 11:15
The central section of Shenandoah is a very scenic hike with many snapshot opportunities.

With regards to water, beginning at Swift Run going nobo only 3 miles you will reach South River Falls picnic area which has spigots and restrooms . The South River Falls trail which intersects the AT is your route to the picnic area. Picnic area is less than 2 minutes away.
Farther north the next water source is Lewis Mountain Campground where spigots can be used. The spur trail opens up to the left from a service road and an easy 75ft walk will get you to the back loop of this small campground.
I'm not sure what your first night plans are but this is a quaint little campground ($15 a night) also has rental cabins as well. The hikers cabin with 4 bunks can be rented for $30 a night through a reservation website.
Big Meadows Campground is a about 8 miles nobo and the AT rides along the perimeter of the back loop , again with spigots available inside the campground.

Bear Fence Hut also has spring water which may be running a tad slow what with the dry weather this summer.
Rock Spring Hut is the first water source heading north from Big Meadows. The spring is located to the right of the Rock Spring Cabin , about 20yds away.

Skyland Lodge is the next water and is also right off the AT.

Byrds Nest Shelter #3 is the next water source as you walk along the ridgeline before descending to Thorton Gap. I would suggest though going easy on the water after Skyland as the dry weather may render this source dry.

Designated campsites usually are seen not far from the trail but with the Huts being well spaced out there shouldn't be a need for a primitive site.

08-18-2012, 22:29
Thanks for the help, any idea what kinda over night temps to expect in early/mid September. It's gonna be a long car ride but I'm super excited to check out this park and get back on the trail!

08-18-2012, 23:12
With September being a transition month between summer to fall expect overnight temps varying from low 50's to mid 60's.

08-18-2012, 23:14
average 52 at night. record low for september 28 in 1974

09-03-2012, 13:27
Any good recomendations for a shuttle in the central region? looking to start probably next week sunday or monday?