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  1. #1

    Default Which 1 week hike is better: NJ to PA, or Pearisburg to Daleville?

    Hi everyone,

    Which one-week hike is more beautiful/remote/diverse:

    • Northern border of NJ (45mi north of the Delaware Water Gap) southbound (~80-90 miles), or
    • Pearisburg to Daleville

    I will take my father in law for this trip, and these are the two options that are still in the game. It will
    be the first time on the AT for both of us. The first option is much easier to reach (we are based in NJ).
    Would the second one, in comparison, be worth the trip?

    Background: I had asked for advice on this some time ago: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?103153

    All opinions welcome!

    Cheers,
    Sockfuss

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sockfuss View Post
    Hi everyone,

    Which one-week hike is more beautiful/remote/diverse:

    • Northern border of NJ (45mi north of the Delaware Water Gap) southbound (~80-90 miles), or
    • Pearisburg to Daleville

    I will take my father in law for this trip, and these are the two options that are still in the game. It will
    be the first time on the AT for both of us. The first option is much easier to reach (we are based in NJ).
    Would the second one, in comparison, be worth the trip?

    Background: I had asked for advice on this some time ago: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?103153

    All opinions welcome!

    Cheers,
    Sockfuss
    My $.02....stay closer to home. The NJ portion of the trail was really nice and somewhat underappreciated imo. Not that P to D'vile isn't but not worth the investment in gas...i.e. not a significant (if any) upgrade over the trail in your backyard. The NJ section also gives you the opportunity to see more bears if that is of interest to you. I saw 4 or 5 there during my hike. best wishes.

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    I preferred the Daleville to Pearisburg section but IMHO it is not worth the trip. You will be hitting some of the worst rocks in that section of PA if that makes a difference.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malto View Post
    I preferred the Daleville to Pearisburg section but IMHO it is not worth the trip. You will be hitting some of the worst rocks in that section of PA if that makes a difference.
    Malto means if you do the NJ trip into PA, that's where the worst of the rocks are.

    Neither section is on my "A" list and neither are in any way "remote". For remote you need to go to NC/TN or Maine.

    There are a couple of reasonable views along the NJ stretch and nothing south of the DWG. The northern end of PA has little redeeming value. The main problem with this section is water is scarce and far apart. It is fairly easy hiking. Just don't go during a 10 day heat wave at the end of July!

    The VA section has a couple of nice spots such as Tinker cliffs, McAfee knob and Dragons tooth (three of the highlights of VA). VA is a much more interesting hike, but it is also some what more difficult, especially the Dragons tooth. Again, don't go during a summer heat wave!
    Last edited by Slo-go'en; 05-01-2014 at 11:19.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
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    New Jersey has some nice views and is pretty low-key in regard to elevation changes. It's an odd bit of trail, but you can make good miles. For southbounders it's sort of a prelude to Pennsylvania.

    The VA stretch that you mentioned has some famous landmarks, mainly McAfee Knob and Dragon's Tooth. A lot more ups and downs than NJ for sure but still maybe only a 5 out 10 compared to what the AT can dish out. I think this stretch is where the Virginia Blues are born.

  6. #6

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    I think the time of year is important. If you hit rhodo season there is quite a lot of rhodos in the stretch south of Pearisburg with a couple of significant Rhodo tunnels. The trade off is it could be hot. I would suggest Maryland and southern PA getting off the trail somewhere south of Sawtera Gap. Peters Mountain Wilderness is boney but fairly wild

  7. #7

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    If you come South now.. it's beautiful. Get down here before the summer heat.

    The triple crown of VA... Dragon's Tooth, McAfee and Tinker Cliffs! I just shuttled a father and son all the way from Michigan. First time on the AT. They loved it.

    Welcome to Whiteblaze Sockfuss!

  8. #8
    Registered User Drybones's Avatar
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    I did Pearsburg to Harper's Ferry last October...I'd recommend a section that included the SNP.

  9. #9

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    Welcome, Sockfuss.

    My 2
    : If you're in NJ already and it's your 1st AT hike, I'd just stay there and do the first option. How old is your dad? Are you both in shape? How many miles can you do? Have you considered the elevation difference between the two areas (it's significant)? What time of year are you going? Do you have backpacking experience elsewhere? How do you feel about hiking in the rain?

    If you go SB from the NY/NJ state line, there are some memorable things, including the famous Pochuck Boardwalk (unique on the AT), the wildlife at the Wallkill River Natl. Wildlife Refuge (great birds, neat snakes, strange turtles), and stopping at Jim Murray's secret shelter. The guy's a living legend in the AT community. He and I had a 2-hour talk in which he dipped into his lifetime of AT experience. The High Point Shelter (before HP) has water flowing on both sides around it---nice sound to sleep to. The trail is pretty easy once you get to High Point. A number of excellent views from there SB, one at Sunrise Mtn., two from fire towers. Free showers at HP State Park (the beach rest house).
    The ranger station there is impressive and they're very friendly to AT hikers. Also free showers at Stokes State Forest (a bit off trail). You can spend your last night at the Mohican Outdoor Ctr., nice bunks, showers, complete kitchen, plenty of other hikers to associate with (too pricy, but then it's the $$AMC$$), a good thing to do before tackling that very rocky next section SB, at least till you get to the old dirt road that descends to DWG.

    I always recommend being conservative for newbies. Trying to do too much can sour you to the whole experience, esp. if something goes wrong. Whichever course you choose, enjoy yourselves.

  10. #10

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    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you very much for all your replies. You guys are really great!

    I should have mentioned that we want to start out this weekend (preferably tomorrow).
    My father in law is 70, this is his birthday present.
    He grew up in the Alps, has a lot of hiking experience from there and is in reasonable shape.
    I am in good shape too and have done one-week hiking trips before (mostly Alps and Canary Islands).
    I think we'll be able to do ~90 miles in the 7 days we have. I don't know exactly.

    I get that the NJ part north of DWG is nice, but then again we would spend half the time south of DWG, which is rocky and not very rewarding?

    @Slo-go'en: You say that neither section is on your "A" list. Which section would you recommend for the seven days of next week?

    @rafe: Same question; you give the VA section 5 out of 10; which section would you choose for next week?

    Since we'll go next week, I think it is too early in the year for VT, NH, Maine, right?
    And TN, NC is pretty far from where we are, we'd prefer not to drive too much.
    But then again, if it's really that much better, we could take the driving I guess.

    The upshot: Which part between NY and VA is best for next week, for two guys in reasonable shape that want to be on a beautiful and, if possible, remote trail!?

  11. #11

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    OKay... this is a no brainer. Start out at Woods Hole Hostel - https://www.facebook.com/woods.hostel?fref=ts

    They offer massages... jus sayin.

    Try to hit up the Homeplace in Catawba if you can.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-H...15564841808913

    It's right before McAfee Knob. Great place to eat.

    Whatever you decide to do... have FUN!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sockfuss View Post
    I get that the NJ part north of DWG is nice, but then again we would spend half the time south of DWG, which is rocky and not very rewarding?

    @Slo-go'en: You say that neither section is on your "A" list. Which section would you recommend for the seven days of next week?

    @rafe: Same question; you give the VA section 5 out of 10; which section would you choose for next week?
    My rating of the VA section was a rating of difficulty, I was just saying that the VA section has more ups and downs than the NJ section.

    It sounds like you don't mind driving several hundred miles so in that case I'd say head south for better weather. Up here in MA it's been surprisingly cold and wet for weeks. (Though at this very moment it's 60 degrees and sunny here in eastern MA.)

    Your father will find the AT utterly unlike the Alps, I'm sure.

    BTW, folks diss Pennsylvania a lot, but I found it mostly OK. Easy to make "big miles." The rocks are what they are. It's not like PA has a monopoly on them. You'll have your share on the NJ stretch as well.

  13. #13

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    With this new revelation, I would suggest the Shenandoah National Park. You might think your in reasonable shape, but the AT has a way of kicking peoples butts, especially for one week trips.

    The SNP is reasonably close to NJ and the trail is easy to moderate. It is not exactly remote, crossing the blue ridge parkway some 50 times, but does have some nice views. It shouldn't be too busy this time of year and it's possible some wild flowers will be blooming. The only thing you'll have to figure out is a shuttle to get back to your car, but that is true of anywhere you go.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  14. #14

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    Hi again,

    Thank you for all your input!

    Woods hole hostel looks nice, going north from there sounds like a good possibility; they even have a shuttle service for coming back.
    Is the trail there "crowded" with through-hikers yet?

    We both know the SNP already and would prefer to see as few roads as possible, so we'd rather opt out of SNP.

    In case we stick with New Jersey: Would you say that starting at the DWG and then continuing into NY is more rewarding than starting at High Point State Park and continuing into PA after the DWG?
    Assuming that we will cover ~90-100 miles in total.

    Thanks again!
    Sockfuss

  15. #15

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    Stockfuss,

    The AT is only remote in a few spots in NC, TN, VA, NH, and most of all ME (maybe N GA [and some spots in VT?]); certainly not NY or any of the mid-Atlantic. If you two are in good shape, you can do High Point to DWG in 3 days. I thought you wanted to begin at the NJ-NY state line. If you go SB into PA from DWG, the first day will be good, but after that (Fox Gap), it's one of the truly boring parts of the AT and rocky too.

    Yeah, SNP is very roady with lots of roady noise---hardly a remote experience. Best to do in winter if you want it as remote as it can get there.

    I was able to do 8 days in the Italian and French Alps back in 2006 when I was working in the early summer in Rome. LOVED it. Steeper than the Rockies and Sierra Nevada---dramatic. NO GIARDIA---pure water everywhere! Other hikers thought I was strange with my genuine backpacking gear since by far most were just day hiking from rifugio to rifugio. I wondered then if that's where the $$AMC$$ got their hut idea so prevalent on the AT in NH. I got to spend one night in a bivacco way up in the snow with some mountaineers, another in an empty shepherd's hut in France. Got to try out Stable-Icers on a glacier too; better than crampons and easier to use. Where have you and your F-I-L hiked in the Alps?

    Again, all the best.

  16. #16

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    Oops, forgot one thing. If you go into NY, I highly recommend staying at the terribly beat up West Mtn. Shelter in Harriman State Park (if you get that far). It's in terrible shape and leaks mightily in the rain, but the views are top-notch. It's also a half mile off the AT, so too distant for most hikers and thus not crammed. Water up en route as it's a dry shelter.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sockfuss View Post

    In case we stick with New Jersey: Would you say that starting at the DWG and then continuing into NY is more rewarding than starting at High Point State Park and continuing into PA after the DWG?
    Assuming that we will cover ~90-100 miles in total.

    Thanks again!
    Sockfuss
    If you do all of NJ it is actually 72.2 miles. I hiked most of it NOBO last fall and it is a very nice, scenic and varied piece of trail. If you continue another 16 miles into PA you'd reach Wind Gap. The section from DWG to Wind Gap is nice with some good views and not too much of the infamous "Rocksylvania".IMG_1553.jpgIMG_1568.jpgIMG_1580.jpg
    Last edited by Second Half; 05-02-2014 at 19:09.
    Everything is easy until you do it.

  18. #18

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    I'll second going to at least Wind Gap in PA. I've slept at the Nelson Vista, and it was great! It sounds as if you are planning to start near Unionville, NY. It is a fantastic town -- very hiker-friendly. But, as Second Half points out, there is a lot of very pretty NJ scenery beyond the piece outside Unionville. I'm very biased, but the NJ stretch offers easy access (you can take a train to Port Jervis, NY and walk a few miles to the AT at High Point, NJ) and a very different side of NJ than most people get to experience (there are 0 refineries or truck stops on the AT in NJ). It is my GoTo last-minute Scout outing or personal head-clearing trip, and I've never been disappointed.

  19. #19

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    Hi Guys,

    You are great, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

    We've read all your posts again and now decided to start in Wind Gap PA and hike north as far as we get.
    Let's see whether we'll make it to Harriman State Park. Perhaps we'll have to skip a part of the trail to get that far.

    @stillatit: Great story about your trip through the alps! My FIL grew up in the southeastern corner of Germany and knows the region with all its mountains by heart. We've never hiked together before! My best hiking experience in the Alps was in Switzerland; St. Moritz to Soglio in about a week. I still remember many details of that trip, even though it's almost 15 years ago now...

    Thanks again everybody,
    Sockfuss

  20. #20

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    Good plan! Coming down into DWG from PA is pretty nice. There's a free hostel in the small DWG town with a shower. It's in a church. With an early start from there you can make to the Mohican Center the next day. They serve food there. Bring money---it's the $$AMC$$'s southernmost outpost.

    When you're done, share with us how it went and your impressions, please.


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