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  1. #1
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    Default AT in Shenandoah NP

    Hello all,
    I'm planning a trip from Rockfish Gap north to Front Royal starting 6/10. It will be a leisurely 10 day stroll with a 0 day at Big Meadows in the middle. Solo traveler for now, at least. I have the AT section maps and 2010 guide but would be greatful for any first hand input. As I'm coming up from FL, I fly into CHO and have a shuttle, JAUNT, that will take me from town up the mountain along Rockfish gap. My exit plan is Valley shuttle from Front Royal back to DC for $20., albeit at oh dark thirty on my last day. Hope to hear from those with experience on these sections.

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    The Park is a nice hike, and early June is usually good weather and not too crowded yet. A zero at Big Meadows is great -- make sure you hike the loop trail there.

    I would stop at every wayside for a meal and a blackberry milkshake. I'd also hit every side trail that goes to a view -- I was surprised at how many hikers skipped those. We usually took a long mid-day break, and it was cool to have a quiet spot with a great view. The trail passes a lot of picnic areas which have fresh water and trash cans -- take advantage when you can.

    The camp stores didn't have a lot of good long-term resupply options, but they did have Snickers bars, Oreos, and ice cream. Always a nice treat.

    When we hiked that section in 2005 in mid-June it was the middle of an awful heat wave, but normal temps are cooler. Oh, and I picked up Lyme disease that year, most likely from the park, so I don't go out anymore in the summer without treating my clothes with permethrin.

    Have a great hike.
    Ken B
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  3. #3
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    I have done this both NOBO and SOBO. Not much in water until you get to Loft Mtn. Southern section is dry, so plan accordingly. Will be up there Thurs so can check on the spring at Blackrock (which people say is a trickle) Probably will be pretty warm, but you're used to that. Prepare for ticks - coat your clothes with pyrethrin beforehand and check yourselves daily. I think going NOBO is easier, IMO. Waysides are pricey for resupply.
    Will be plenty of thru hikers then, be sure to take a tent. There are tentsites at shelters.







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    There will be thru hikers then but you should not have a problem with shelter space. It is always a good idea to carry a tent just in case. I have hiked this section twice. I agree that water can be scarce, but you should not have trouble getting waters at shelters. Very nice trail, with lots of side trails.

    Enjoy your hike
    Pootz 07

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    Did Rockfish Gap to Loft Mountain a few weeks ago. Fantastic section of the SNP! Calf Moutain Shelter had a spring that was running pretty good. From there the next one is Black Rock Hut (if you stay on the AT) and the spring there was a trickle but I could fill up. Loft Mountain Campground should be opening this weekend I believe so you'll run into a lot of campers but there are water sources.

    The only problem I had was the bugs. Not the biting kind, just irritating because they always hit my eyes. Why do they always go for the eyes? Anyway, when I was there it was right after a few solid days of rain and the three days I spent were the first three sunny days in a while, probably why the bugs were out so bad.

    I'd go again in a heartbeat! Enjoy your hike!

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    Default Mountain laurel

    Take time to enjoy SNP's mountain laurel which might be past peak bloom, but there should still be blossoms to be seen.

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    Default Birds

    SNP is one of many places where you can expect to see Virginia A.T. birds. If you see a Scarlet Tanger or any others, the place to post your observations is WhiteBlaze A.T. bird list 2010.
    Last edited by emerald; 05-25-2010 at 16:31. Reason: Added links and corrected thread title.

  8. #8
    CDT - 2013, PCT - 2009, AT - 1300 miles done burger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    SNP is one of many places where you can expect to see Virginia A.T. birds. If you see a Scarlet Tanger or any others, the place to post your observations is A.T. birds 2010.
    I'll second that. I saw (well, heard mostly) more cerulean warblers on the AT section through SNP than I've seen anywhere else.

    One other piece of advice for the OP: don't try to camp at any picnic areas or other off-limits spots. We got caught and had a stressful run-in with the park rangers (who thankfully let us stay but threatened to kick us out of the park if we tried it again).

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    Thanks for the tic alert. I have been knocking around FL for over 30 years. I could count one one hand the # of tics I've attracted. OTH, one afternoon picking roadside berries in VA I came back infested. Maybe two 0 days at Big Meadows as I love the Rose River Loop and might take a day just for that and the New Deal turkey dinner at the lodge. On the waay out now to but premetherin

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    Default Nature in SNP

    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    Take time to enjoy SNP's mountain laurel which might be past peak bloom, but there should still be blossoms to be seen.
    I'm hoping that I won't entirely miss the bloom of Laurel / Rhododendren, whatever the correct name is. I was up on Old Rag a few years ago in mid June and with the higher altitude, the bloom was at peak with the trail being a path through a tunnel of flowers. Incredible sight. One reason for the slow pace is to be able to visit look outs, walk in nature and learn about what is living around me in SNP. Maybe a dip in the Rose river pools, too. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    SNP is one of many places where you can expect to see Virginia A.T. birds. If you see a Scarlet Tanger or any others, the place to post your observations is WhiteBlaze A.T. bird list 2010.
    It may have been the last S. Tanager I saw, 6/24/1995 at the shelter just south of Swift Run Gap in SNP. A major rain system was moving in and they like to sing in the rain. Exquisite little bird.

    I biked the Skyline last year. Rode by a turkey hen with a brood under her wing literally inches from the asphalt.

    A beautiful and magical part of the world.
    Have fun.

  12. #12
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Mt Laurel out here in the lowlands. Should be good up there then.







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  13. #13
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefiepoo View Post
    I have the AT section maps and 2010 guide but would be greatful for any first hand input.
    Daughter and I did it as a 7-day hike about 3 years ago. Very enjoyable.

    A couple of observations. "Wayside" means something very different everywhere the word is used, so beware. Also, our guide said Panorama Wayside was open, but in fact it was closed and had been for a few years. No idea if it has re-opened (but don't think so), so don't count in it, as we did and were sadly mis-led.

    Once I sat by Skyline Drive waiting on a ride, and looked down to see ticks crawling toward me. YIKES. Another day we were glad to have head nets, due to all the little flying critters.

    When we hiked through, the "Byrd's Nests" were for day-use only. Now I understand one or more have been refurb to be over-night shelters.

    One more thing... we saw bears each and every day.

    Enjoy!

    RainMan

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    Probably will be pretty warm, but you're used to that. Prepare for ticks - coat your clothes with pyrethrin beforehand and check yourselves daily.

    I'm happy to get your insight for this section and the environmental hazards, Blissful. Warm seems to follow me. From Philmont in NM to Glacier in MT, always walking in the heat. Hope I'm pleasantly surprised. In '08, at Glacier NP, we were walking through snow fields in the high passes in 90*+ weather. Taking my Big Agness seed house 2 tent. A luxury at 28 sf.

  15. #15

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    Info on Panorama and waysides.

    It's true. Panorama is no more and will never return. If you have an older map or guide which still lists it, make a note that there's no food at Thornton Gap. There is only a new structure with bathrooms. You can get water and ditch your trash in the dumpsters, though.

    There are three waysides... Loft Mtn, Big Meadows, and Elkwallow. Loft Mtn and Big Meadows are both about a mile off the AT (There's a little blue-blazed access from the AT to Loft Mtn wayside just north of the campground, which will save you the walk up and down the road from the campground.) Loft Mtn has a campground store, and you can resupply there. There is also food service at the Wayside on Skyline Drive. Burgers, fries, shakes, etc., ordered at the counter and eaten at the indoor or outdoor tables. Big Meadows has a smaller campstore and smaller food service area. Same menu, though. Also, the main visitors center is there. You can also get showers near the trail in the campground ($2.00 for several minutes, need quarters but there is a change machine.) Laundry available, as well. (Forgot to mention, laundry and showers available at Loft Mtn, too.) The Big Meadows lodge has a great dining room. Entertainment and some food in the Taproom at Big Meadows, as well. Nice place to spend a zero evening. You pay Aramark prices, of course, for all the food service in the park.

    Also, in late April, part of the loop trail around Big Meadows was closed due to a mother bear and her cubs denned along the trail closer to the Dark Hollow Falls trail.

    Further north of Big Meadows, the trail passes through Skyland Resort. If you are up for the Aramark prices, you can also eat in their dining room or Taproom. Menu is basically the same as Big Meadows.

    The next wayside is a couple of days away if you are doing 10-mile days. That's Elkwallow. It's the smallest of them all. Counter food service, shakes, burgers, etc. No indoor seating but picnic tables outside. Very limited resupply there, but you can usually find enough Mountain House food to get you out of the park. The focus at Elkwallow is more souvenirs and snacks for the car tourists.

    Oh, yeah, if you have an older guide, it may not note that Byrd's Nest #3 shelter, just south of Mary's Rock/Thornton Gap is now open for overnight stays. Nice shelter with a fireplace inside, new privy, lots of campsites. I don't remember if there was water available there.

    Enjoy your hike! And do take the time to see some of the views.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefiepoo View Post
    Hello all,
    I'm planning a trip from Rockfish Gap north to Front Royal starting 6/10. It will be a leisurely 10 day stroll with a 0 day at Big Meadows in the middle. Solo traveler for now, at least. I have the AT section maps and 2010 guide but would be greatful for any first hand input. As I'm coming up from FL, I fly into CHO and have a shuttle, JAUNT, that will take me from town up the mountain along Rockfish gap. My exit plan is Valley shuttle from Front Royal back to DC for $20., albeit at oh dark thirty on my last day. Hope to hear from those with experience on these sections.
    easy walkin', lots of restaurants and snack bars. you'll see deer and bear

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    Default Rhododendron

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefiepoo View Post
    I'm hoping that I won't entirely miss the bloom of Laurel / Rhododendren, whatever the correct name is.
    The genus Rhododendron refers to a particular group of plants belonging to the same family as mountain laurel. Evergreen rhododendrons found in SNP are Rhododendron maximum, great laurel. The more common deciduous rhododendrons bloom before mountain laurel and are known to most people as azaleas.

    Laurel is often used to refer to evergreen understory shrubs regardless of their species.

  18. #18
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lellers View Post
    Info on Panorama and waysides.



    There are three waysides... Loft Mtn, Big Meadows, and Elkwallow. Loft Mtn and Big Meadows are both about a mile off the AT (There's a little blue-blazed access from the AT to Loft Mtn wayside just north of the campground, which will save you the walk up and down the road from the campground.) Loft Mtn has a campground store, and you can resupply there.
    Lewis Mtn has a campstore also with a blue blaze trail to it.







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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    Lewis Mtn has a campstore also with a blue blaze trail to it.
    showers also available at Lewis Mtn

    other notes

    water is available at Dundo picnic area between Loft Mtn. and Blackrock Hut

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    Mt Laurel out here in the lowlands. Should be good up there then.
    I've been wondering when would be a good time to see the laurel...I may have to do a couple of mountain hikes soon to see it.

    It's a beautiful park. I was in the southern section about a month ago, and just about had the trails to myself. Definitely expect to see deer, which have no fear of people (I practically walked into one becuase I was paying more attention to the conversation with my friend than my surroundings,) and bear (I saw my first one on the same hike.) The food at the waysides is indeed somewhat pricey, but not too bad. If you buy food at one, get some blackberry ice cream

    I'm going to be back in September to do a "Lodge to Lodge" hike through the central section, as a bit of an introduction to multi-day hikes. I want to do the entire park sometime after that.

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