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  1. #1

    Default May Hike Thru Shenandoah Temp Help

    Hello all you kind and helpful hikers,

    I am planning to hike Harpers Ferry-Waynesboro in May. Taking the train to Harpers Ferry, catching the last day of the FlipFlop Festival and hitting the trail on the 28th of April. Then hiking south to Waynesboro.

    Now to where you guys come in. I am a hammock camper and as of right now I am concerned about temperature, my underquilt is only rated to 40 degrees and I dont know that I will be able to invest in a lower rated quilt before then. So anyone who has Hiked here in May before. Would you have felt comfortable going with a sleep system you knew you could sleep in down to 40? If not, then what temps would you want to be prepared for? (I know my best bet is going to be to watch the forecast in the weeks leading up to the trip however if I need to come up with something warmer I want as much warning as possible.)
    I have checked weather averages and it seems like baring a cold spring I should be okay, however I live in Ohio where there isnt a mountain to be seen and I have no experience with mountains outside of summer so I dont know how much I should trust the forecast.

    Also does anyone know where (other than here and the AT guidebook) I can find good information about this section?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2


    From personal experience, I would be prepared for 25-30 at night at the lowest. Being prepared for 40 isn't good enough IMO

    I did section hikes in that area in early May two years in a row (1 through SNP, 1 the 100 miles south of waynesboro). Temps did dip down below 30 for a couple nights on one of the hikes, and there were definitely a couple other nights close to freezing. Temps ranged from about 25 to 80s with lots of humidity

  3. #3


    If you want good info on that section, search the threads on here. Definitely tons on SNP. Or the park website has a lot of info
    Mountain home hostel in Front Royal, VA, is a nice spot with nice people. That could be a good resupply point for you
    The park waysides (restaurants/convenience) in SNP will be open, and you won't need to carry a ton of food through there.
    Shelters were busy in SNP on weekends; not as bad during the week. The campgrounds like big meadows aren't bad; lots of space that time of year to spread out and walk over to the wayside and get a burger and a beer

  4. #4
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Raleigh, NC


    Did that section exactly that time last year and got walloped one day with 35F temps, heavy rain, and high winds. Had to call it quits early and set up my tent to avoid onset of hypothermia. Luckily I had all my warm overnight gear - I just skimped too much on the daytime gear. Be prepared!
    It's all good in the woods.

  5. #5


    I did Harpers Ferry to Daleville last year, started the week before the FF thing. I was geared up for a low about 40. That worked out reasonably well for the first week or so while still at the relatively low elevation between HF and Front Royal. But I was right on the edge of my comfort level most of the time. Then you gain about a 1000 feet once you enter the SNP.

    There was only one night in the SNP where I really froze my butt off when it dipped to 28 degrees with a 20 mph wind blowing directly into the shelter. I got up as soon it was light and started hiking to warm up. A few days later it was in the 80's. Crazy.

    If you supplement your under quilt with a pad, that would probably add the extra margin you need. Or just suffer through the couple of cold nights you might have like I did.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  6. #6
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Winston-Salem, NC


    One way to add some warmth to a hammock is with a 3/4 length closed cell foam pad. I've used the pad by itself in the summer, and even in temps down into the 40s. (That's not ideal, but it worked. Mostly.) Using a pad under you, and the quilt under the hammock, will add a lot of insulation in the key torso area. I started with a 3/4 Ridgerest but it was too narrow through the shoulders, so I got the cheap Walmart blue foam pad and cut down the length. This is an inexpensive way of being ready for colder temps, IMO.

    An added bonus is that the pad is very useful on breaks and one could even -- I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out -- one could even sleep on the ground if need be.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  7. #7


    Wow you guys are quick on the response! I thank you all very much for your input so far.

    It sounds as though I need to add another 10-15 to my UQ. I have used a pad in the hammock in the past, I spent two nights with a sweaty/sticky back... unpleasant to say the least. That will have to remain a last resort. I am thinking I can get some 100 or 200 weight fleece and make an UQ liner to get that extra 10-15.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Brookston, Indiana


    Wave when we pass. I'll be taking the Cardinal from Indiana to hike north from Waynesboro to catch the Capital Limited in Harpers Ferry. I'll be starting May 9th.

  9. #9


    Oh cool! I should still be on the trail at that time. If you see a 6í2 long haired ginger thatís me.

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