Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-04-2013
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    4,033

    Default Maryland/Southern PA Shelter/Camping Feedback

    I've decided to extend my spring section hike and now intend to cover the state of Maryland and southern Pennsylvania in addition to Rockfish Gap to Harpers Ferry. This trip is about 267 miles and I'm planning on fifteen days on the trail. I am somewhat familiar with the trail in VA/WV so I'm on firmer ground with my plans there. But I've never hiked the AT in Maryland or Pennsylvania. I have the Maryland & Northern Virginia PATC book and have used that resource to plan for Maryland. So far I have only used online resources to plan for Pennsylvania.

    My understanding is that camping is permitted only at shelters or designated campsites in Maryland and I'm not sure about Pennsylvania's regulations yet. I'm providing my current itinerary below and would like to get feedback on my current choice of camping locations in MD/PA. Should I opt for different choices that could be better in terms of breaking up the days, views, etc?

    Also, if anyone has any ideas regarding where I could quickly resupply in MD/PA, that could break up the food carry from Harpers Ferry. Right now, I have a resupply planned in Linden and Harpers Ferry and it might be nice to add one to avoid carrying 5-6 days of food in MD/PA. But I won't worry about the weight if I'd have to go far off trail to a PO, etc...

    Thanks.

    Day # Start End Day Miles Total Miles Comments
    1 Rockfish Gap Sawlog Ridge 12.4 12.4 Dry camp
    2 Sawlog Ridge Pinefield Hut 20.8 33.2 Tent near shelter
    3 Pinefield Hut Bearfence Mtn Hut 20.8 54.0 Tent near shelter
    4 Bearfence Mtn Hut Byrds Nest #3 22.2 76.2 Tent near shelter
    5 Byrds Nest #3 Gravel Springs Hut 17.7 93.9 Tent near shelter
    6 Gravel Springs Hut Denton Shelter 18.4 112.3 Tent near shelter
    7 Denton Shelter Rod Hollow Shelter 18.4 130.7 Linden resupply
    8 Rod Hollow Shelter Blackburn Trail Center 17.6 148.3 Stay at Hostel or camp
    9 Blackburn Trail Center Harpers Ferry 12.7 161.0 Teahorse Hostel, Resupply
    10 Harpers Ferry Dahlgren BP Campground 17.3 178.3 Backpacking campground
    11 Dahlgren BP Camp Raven Rock Shelter 18.8 197.1 Tent near shelter
    12 Raven Rock Shelter Rocky Mtn Shelter 19.8 216.9 Tent near shelter
    13 Rocky Mtn Shelter Toms Run Shelter 19.2 236.1 Tent near shelter
    14 Toms Run Shelter Alec Kennedy Shelter 19.0 255.1 Tent near shelter
    15 Alec Kennedy Shelter US11/Carlisle 11.9 267.0 Motel 6 near trail crossing
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
    John Muir Trail Aug/Sept 2013

  2. #2
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-03-2012
    Location
    Northwestern, VA (outside of Harper's Ferry)
    Posts
    1,800
    Images
    4

    Default

    Thoughts:

    While Blackburn is nice (and it is!) I would recommend staying at Bear's Den hostel if you can rejigger your mileage to make it work. They have hot showers, clothes to change into while you do your laundry, the usual amenities of a hostel, a full kitchen and the hiker special (all of the above plus pizza, pint of ice cream and a coke for $30 bucks). The view from Bear's Den rocks is worth it and only a short walk downhill from the hostel. It looks west so great for sunsets.

    I also don't see any nero/zero days except maybe Harper's Ferry. I don't know about your hiking pace, stamina, physical conditioning, etc. so who am I to comment. But I will add from my experience that it can really help to have a nero/zero halfway through a 2 week trip to let your body rest and rebuild. Sharpening the saw from the Ten Habits...Just a suggestion...

    Also, do you plan to mail a drop to HF or go shopping for resupply? If the latter, plan to grab a shuttle to Charlestown or Brunswick to get the nearest dollar general/Wal Mart/grocery store.

    Dahlgren is a fun little stop. If you hit it on the weekend it may be full, just a word to the wise. It's quite near a parking lot just a few hundred yards further up the trail and it tends to fill with scouts and groups. Get there early in the day to be assured a spot.

    In PA there are plenty of campsites if you don't necessarily want to stay at the shelters and, afaik, there is no requirement to camp solely at the shelters in PA. For that matter, I don't believe the same exists in Maryland.

    Oh and remember that the trail passes quite near a campground at US 40 and I 70 (Greenbriar). If you're not hiking with a dog this is a viable stop.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-04-2013
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    4,033

    Default

    I considered staying at Bear's Den rather than Blackburn and might do that if it seems like a better idea when I'm on the hike. It would result in a longer day into Harpers Ferry but maybe that's worthwhile. I was planning to check out Bear's Den since it is near the trail anyway, even if I don't stay overnight. It sounds like a great stop.

    The shorter day into Harper's Ferry is my current idea of an easier day leaving time in the afternoon to walk around the city and eat at the restaurants, but I could potentially either take a zero there or shorten the following day to a nero if I'm tired. I could extent the trip by a day without any issue since I'm just taking Greyhound back home from Harrisburg and I doubt reservations are needed for that.

    Good to know that Dahlgren might fill up on weekends ... I'm set to get there on a Friday night so I'll have to think of a fallback just in case. I need to get a good map of PA to get an idea of the camping options.

    I am sending boxes to the PO at Linden at to the hostel in Harpers Ferry so at least no time will be needed for shopping.
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
    John Muir Trail Aug/Sept 2013

  4. #4

    Default

    I can't give you much feedback on resupplying. Two shelters in southern PA that you may want to consider are Quarry Gap Shelter and Tumbling Run Shelters depending on your pace throughout the hike. Both are right on the trail and are well maintained with water right there at the camp. If I remember right Rocky Mountain Shelter is down the hill off the trail approximately 2 or 3 tenths of a mile.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-16-2011
    Location
    On the trail
    Posts
    3,769
    Images
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RN-PCT2015 View Post
    I considered staying at Bear's Den rather than Blackburn and might do that if it seems like a better idea when I'm on the hike. It would result in a longer day into Harpers Ferry but maybe that's worthwhile. I was planning to check out Bear's Den since it is near the trail anyway, even if I don't stay overnight. It sounds like a great stop.

    The shorter day into Harper's Ferry is my current idea of an easier day leaving time in the afternoon to walk around the city and eat at the restaurants, but I could potentially either take a zero there or shorten the following day to a nero if I'm tired. I could extent the trip by a day without any issue since I'm just taking Greyhound back home from Harrisburg and I doubt reservations are needed for that.

    Good to know that Dahlgren might fill up on weekends ... I'm set to get there on a Friday night so I'll have to think of a fallback just in case. I need to get a good map of PA to get an idea of the camping options.

    I am sending boxes to the PO at Linden at to the hostel in Harpers Ferry so at least no time will be needed for shopping.
    That longer day into harpers Ferry is relatively easy.

  6. #6

    Default

    I may be able to help with resupply in MD. Depending on days I could work a day hike in with a food drop for you. Send me a PM and we'll talk.

    As for shelters, I think you're missing the good spots in Maryland (though that may not be much of a pity). Annapolis Rock is the premier overlook on the AT in MD and allows camping (but no fires). I highly recommend working it out so you can stay there. The sunset is phenomenal, especially when you're kicked back eating dinner on the rocks watching it.

    Dahlgren is a dull campground basically right on a major road. I'd avoid it, personally. Raven Rock shelter itself is very nice, but again very close to a road so the location isn't ideal. If you must stay in one of the shelters North of Annapolis Rock, I'd probably make it Raven Rock. (Though I have heard a local pizza place delivers to Ensign Cowell.)

    Anything I can help with let me know. I'm up and down the Maryland section a few times a year at least.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-04-2013
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    4,033

    Default

    Thanks for pointing out Annapolis Rock. I just viewed a video of Dahlgren and was thinking it could get crowded and noted that it was near a road..I am going to try to rework things to include Annapolis Rock and look into the other suggestions. I may have worked out a resupply near PenMar but I appreciate the offer to help!
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
    John Muir Trail Aug/Sept 2013

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-10-2005
    Location
    Bedford, MA
    Posts
    12,678

    Default

    Don't know if it's been mentioned but your last shelter is less than four miles from the next town north.

    Dahlgren campground has (had?) showers, which makes it unique among most AT shelters. It also has a fine restaurant/pub (South Mtn. Inn) about a 2 minute walk away. Be silly to miss that.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-04-2013
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    4,033

    Default

    I guess I could use the Dahlgren showers and then move on but that's a good point. But I'll be a day out from Harpers Ferry and not yet that grungy, maybe.
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
    John Muir Trail Aug/Sept 2013

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-10-2005
    Location
    Bedford, MA
    Posts
    12,678

    Default

    What time of year are you going? The stretch of the Potomac along the trail (along the canal and tow-path) is popular for tubing... as in, floating down river on an inner-tube or any kind of flotation device. The current flows nobo as far as the trail is concerned. I walked that stretch in the opposite direction, on a hot day in August... wishing I was in the river, rather than walking alongside it. There were scores of people in the river, they looked like they were having a blast.

    I liked the Free State Hiker Hostel, probably one of the nicer hostels on the AT. But that would be a short 15 mile day for you, coming from Dahlgren.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-04-2013
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    4,033

    Default

    It looks like I'm leaving early on the week of April 14. I've noticed all the tubing along the Potomac in the summer and always wanted to do that. Probably more of a mid summer activity than spring!
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
    John Muir Trail Aug/Sept 2013

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-10-2005
    Location
    Bedford, MA
    Posts
    12,678

    Default

    You can travel light the last couple days into HF. There are (were?) decent eateries and even a small store at Snickers Gap and again at Keys Gap. I think to get the full effect at Bears Den requires an overnight stay. I passed it up. Blackburn was a nice overnight, though a long way down off the trail. I tented there rather than stay in the hut.

  13. #13

    Default

    At Rte. 30/Caledonia SP in PA, there is a pizza place a short distance (about 1/2 mile) from the trail. Walmart is about 7 miles up the road, or there is a gas station minimart about 2 miles from the park where you could get enough food to get you the rest of the way. Alternately, there are some towns near the trail south of there where you could do a maildrop.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    10-06-2008
    Location
    Orange Park, FL
    Age
    75
    Posts
    103

    Default

    What is the actual condition of the trail in that area. I plan on hiking from Gathland State Park ( MD) to Pine Grove Furnace State Park ( about 70 miles). I want to travel light and and try 15 -18 mile days. I live in Florida but it's my understanding that that area has had record snowfall this winter. My trip starts in two weeks and not sure if I will be facing any reminding snow or minor flooding from snow melt. Any info. Will be helpful....

  15. #15

    Default

    RN - I think you've got it pretty well worked out. Old South Mountain Inn is definitely worth the stop. You'll want to look fairly presentable though, it's a nice place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gator 65 View Post
    What is the actual condition of the trail in that area. I plan on hiking from Gathland State Park ( MD) to Pine Grove Furnace State Park ( about 70 miles). I want to travel light and and try 15 -18 mile days. I live in Florida but it's my understanding that that area has had record snowfall this winter. My trip starts in two weeks and not sure if I will be facing any reminding snow or minor flooding from snow melt. Any info. Will be helpful....
    You'll be fine. Mud in spots perhaps, but even that should be gone in two weeks.

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-20-2013
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Age
    59
    Posts
    56

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gator 65 View Post
    What is the actual condition of the trail in that area. I plan on hiking from Gathland State Park ( MD) to Pine Grove Furnace State Park ( about 70 miles). I want to travel light and and try 15 -18 mile days. I live in Florida but it's my understanding that that area has had record snowfall this winter. My trip starts in two weeks and not sure if I will be facing any reminding snow or minor flooding from snow melt. Any info. Will be helpful....
    Unless we get hit again, which wouldn't surprise me, the snow should be all gone. Mud, well there should be plenty of that and the creeks should be running pretty strong.

++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •