Shenandoah National Park / Skyline Drive
Just an hour west of Washington, DC, lies a beautiful, long, and narrow ridge of Appalachian
mountains known as Shenandoah National Park,
one of the most accessible and easily reached National Parks in the USA. We will hike over 100 miles
on the 2190 mile long Appalachian
National Scenic Trail which spans the entire length of the park.
Our trek parallels the famed Skyline Drive, traversing miles of fine hardwood canopy, all on a ridge
high above the surrounding valleys. You'll almost certainly see deer and we usually see black bear as well.
If you have heard about the Appalachian Trail or were inspired by A Walk in the Woods and want
to see the AT for yourself, this is the trip for you
The Shenandoah National Park Fitpacking Trip will be from May 11-25, 2013. Here is the
After the first week, we spend 2 nights in Skyland Lodge (lodging and breakfast included, but not lunch and dinner) for
what Appalachian thru-hikers call a 'zero day', when you do nothing but rest.
Unlike most Fitpacking trips where we exclusively sleep in tents, on this trip we will spend 2 nights in cabins,
1 night in a front country campground (tenting), 1 night in the backcountry tenting and
many nights in campsites that have huts/shelters -- open faced structures that sleep up to 12.
There are tent sites at every shelter, which we encourage you to use, however if the
weather is inclement or you just don't feel like setting up a tent, you may opt for staying in the shelter if space
is available. Shelter space is unreserved and is on a first come first served basis. At Big Meadows Campground, a
coin-op shower is available, but since we will be there before the official opening of the campground, it's
unknown whether the showers will work or not. Here are trail maps for the
first week (this map's route is
a little different route than the 2013 trip)
and the second week.
Our journey will begin at Rockfish Gap at the South end of Shenandoah NP and go through the entire length of the park.
The first day will involve a somewhat steep climb to ascend the ridge that joins the Appalachain Trail. From there,
we'll hike Northbound every day for almost two weeks, staying in or near AT shelters (lean-tos), car campgrounds, and in
The trails through Shenandoah National Park are well groomed with good footing and moderate
elevation gain and loss (although it may not seem like that while hiking). Difficulties
arise because there are several days of 10+ mile hikes planned. While this may not seem like much while
sitting at your computer or even after say, 7 miles of hiking, cumulative fatigue sets in and every subsequent
mile becomes more challenging. The upside is that in May, there will be as much as 15 hours of daylight, which
gives plenty of time to complete our daily mileage. By the end of 2nd week of the 2009 trip, some participants
decided to hike 21 miles in a single day.
Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s & 70s
and nighttime temperatures in the 40s & 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures in the 80s
and night temperatures in the 30s. Here is the
historical May weather.
We experienced brief snow on both the 2008 and 2009 trips and hail on the 2011 trip.
lives in Pleasanton, CA and is a Wilderness Medicine Institute certified Wilderness
First Responder. A life long outdoor enthusiast, Rick is the founder of the wilderness education site
Rick has been leading backpacking treks and teaching outdoor skills to both youth and adults for over 10 years.
lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder and American Heart Association certified Heartsaver CPR/AED.
He thru-hiked the entire 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2010.
Here is a
list of equipment
we suggest you bring.
The list is extensive and can seem daunting, but please don't let this deter you
from the trip. You can rent top notch quality gear for reasonable prices from
Lower Gear or
It may also be possible for us to provide some gear for you at a nominal fee if you let us
know far ahead of the trip. Unfortunately, we're not in the gear business so the selection of
our available inventory is unpredictable. Please feel free to
discuss any gear with us before the trip.
We don't believe in austere eating regimens. Backpacking is a rigorous, rewarding activity.
You must feed your body in order for it perform. Your body will dictate that you eat often, so it's important
to have fuel to feed it. Please check out the
is not comprehensive and may be altered or augmented. If you want to bring personal food, say a 5 pound chocolate cake, go for it.
You'll not only hate carrying it over 100 miles through the Virginia mountains, your body will reject the empty calories and prefer
$1800 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a
room with another participant during the 4 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for
transportation to and from Dulles, personal equipment and any restaurant meals eaten off the trail
(although breakfasts are included).
The reason for this is to avoid lavish dinners with bottle after bottle of wine that
occurred when restaurant meals were included.
Covered expenses include 4 hotel nights, 2 cabin nights, campground fees, 12 days of
trail meals, ground transportation,
National Park permits,
insurance, and 2 awesome guides.