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  1. #1
    Registered User Marley15's Avatar
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    Default A week long hike in SNP

    Hello. I am looking for suggestions on a week long (8 days, 7 nights) hike on the AT in SNP. We would love to be able to take in some great views, as well as fish or utilize swimming holes that we have heard are in the park. We drive for about 7.5 hrs each time we come down, so we just want to experience as much as possible with each trip. We are looking at completing our hike next summer. It will be a party of 4 (2 adults, and 2 16 year olds), of average ability. We have completed some section hikes in VA this year, Grayson Highlands and McAfee Knob areas. Any suggestions or advice will be greatly appreciated!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marley15 View Post
    Hello. I am looking for suggestions on a week long (8 days, 7 nights) hike on the AT in SNP. We would love to be able to take in some great views, as well as fish or utilize swimming holes that we have heard are in the park. We drive for about 7.5 hrs each time we come down, so we just want to experience as much as possible with each trip. We are looking at completing our hike next summer. It will be a party of 4 (2 adults, and 2 16 year olds), of average ability. We have completed some section hikes in VA this year, Grayson Highlands and McAfee Knob areas. Any suggestions or advice will be greatly appreciated!
    if you want to stay AT centered you can do the entire park in 8 days easily. do it in 6 or 7 and then go spend the extra day or two hiking old rag and whos a whats canyon everyone loves.

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    But if you do an AT hike through the park, you won't see any water to fish or swim in. You have to go way off trail down the side of the ridge to find any of that. That's a whole different adventure.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Wayensboro (Rockfish Gap) to Front Royal covers SNP. It's a nice section with great views. The AT crisscrosses Skyline Drive many times, and you'll have close access to several Waysides, Camp Stores, Campgrounds and SNP Resorts along the way. Be sure to stop at Ming Garden Chinese buffet in Wayensboro.

    Others closer to SNP can give you more advice on parking, shuttles, etc. I loved that section, both in late spring and fall.

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    Registered User Marley15's Avatar
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    Thank you all very much! OK, so since we can complete the hike in less than a week, maybe we will just try to venture off of the AT for some day hikes for the fishing and swimming then, while completing the park. Any suggestions on areas for fishing and swimming? I did try to look at the SNP website, but I haven't had too much luck. Thank you again!

    Thank you Praha4 for the suggestion on the Chinese Buffet! With 2 teenage boys, we love buffets

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    One side trip I would recommend is the Rose River area. (Assuming a NOBO hike): When you get to the Big Meadows wayside rather than backtracking to the AT to continue north around the campground, walk a couple tenths of a mile north on Skyline Drive to the Dark Hollow Falls trailhead. Walk down for great views of the falls and end up at a footbridge crossing the stream, then take an immediate left to descend to the Rose River area. There are camping opportunities when you get down to the low point on the trail past the old mine near where the Rose River and Hogcamp branch join. Continue walking on the Rose River Trail and eventually come to Skyline Drive and Fisher's Gap. Cross Skyline drive and find the AT a short distance past the small parking lot and continue north.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marley15 View Post
    Thank you all very much! OK, so since we can complete the hike in less than a week, maybe we will just try to venture off of the AT for some day hikes for the fishing and swimming then, while completing the park. Any suggestions on areas for fishing and swimming? I did try to look at the SNP website, but I haven't had too much luck. Thank you again!

    Thank you Praha4 for the suggestion on the Chinese Buffet! With 2 teenage boys, we love buffets
    i'm no expert at all on the interesting off AT areas of the park, but a few of the big ones (old rag and the rest of that part of the park) are so far off the trail that the detour there and back would add multiple days to the hike. there may be other interesting things less out of the way, but i still think focusing on doing the AT (if thats important to you) and then driving to see other parts of interest is probably the better use of time.

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    Last time we did Jeremy's Run (Northern section near Elk Wallow, a do-able one or two day side trip), we met lots of fishermen. Most were using flies I think.

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    Just South of Loft Mt Area you can bag 3 waterfalls on a 6.5 mile loop. Upper and Lower Doyle River Falls , and Jones Falls. Some nice swimming holes, decent trout habitat. Take Browns Gap Fire Rd east from Skyline Dr. If you look carefully you can see a white gravestone of a Confederate soldier 10 yards north of the road, maybe a half mile on your way. Stonewall Jackson and company passed through here.
    Head south (right)on Doyle River trail where you'll see 2 waterfalls within 2 miles. When you get to the junction with Jones Run turn right (west) to climb to Jones Falls and eventually the AT. Go North on the AT a little over a mile, and you return to the Brown's Gap. Also a few large poplars right on the trail just below Jones Falls.

  10. #10
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    In Shenandoah National Park the Rapidan River, a large tributary of the Rappahannock runs through it in it's central district. The Rapidan is an easy hike 3.7 miles down the ridgeline from Milam Gap parking area. To get there take the AT from the parking lot, crossing the Drive, hike about one quarter mile until it intersects with the Mill Prong Trail. Take a left onto Mill Prong.

    Following this trail will take you to Rapidan Camp, a National registered Historic Area which was President Hoover's Retreat when he was President in the early thirties.
    The Rapidan flows on the back side of the "Brown House" , the sleeping Quarters for the Hoovers, President and First Wife Lou Henry.

    Side Notes : 1) A VA fishing license is obviously needed , and if you want to keep what you catch I'd check with the park on size regulations ,etc. 2) Backcountry camping not permitted in this area.

    Also worth noting : The best time to trout fish in SNP is during the wetter spring months from April thru June. Waiting until the typically Summer dry weather pattern to kick in isn't conducive to good water levels, fishing.
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    With the diverse experiences you desire and time allotted(Hooray on both goals!) you have to become more open minded with your hike in S NP than LIMITING yourself to the AT! With all the absolutely wonderful hiking east of the Mississippi River DO NOT get caught up in Whiteblaze Fever. Expand your horizons. This applies to hikes through the entire 14 states the AT travels. It applies to GSMNP, BSP, White Mountains, and SNP as well. You might want to look at the AT as ONE potential artery that bisects and co-joins MANY MANY other trails/routes VERY WORTHY OF HIKING EXPLORATION. The AT as a whole, and the development of individual backing experiences, would be better served if more hikers did this!

    To achieve what you want, that I applaud you for, take in SOME of the AT perhaps focusing on some highlights like Overlooks(Hawskbill, Stoney Man, Little Sonny Man, etc), the SNP westside higher elevation points, and perhaps a stop at one of the Roadsides and/or Skylands Lodge to break up the eight days, including food carries, by food supplementing, with eastside stream/river/waterfall hiking and even throwing in a eastside overlook high of Old Rag doing a 8 day LOOP rather than a linear AT only end to end hike with NO waterfalls, rivers, stream, or fishing. Look at a detailed S NP trail map, not forgetting that old roads, can be used as part of the links to single track hiking trail on both sides of SNP.

  12. #12
    Registered User Marley15's Avatar
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    Thank you all so much! Dogwood, we were just talking about changing our trip up, like you mentioned, over the weekend. We are not familiar with SNP, so we just weren't sure what we would be able to do in terms of incorporating as many of our experiences as we could, while hiking at least some of the AT. Thank you all for mentioning some of the specific side trails that would provide us with some of these experiences.

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    I think that Old Rag could be done as a one day detour off the AT. After doing the Rose River detour I suggested above, rather than rejoining the AT, take the Big Meadows-Skyland horse trail to the Cedar Run trail. Hike Cedar Run down to the Berry Hollow parking lot (a very nice walk), then road walk less than a mile on VA600 toward the Weakley Hollow fire road which will lead to a junction with the Old Rag saddle trail. The saddle trail is an easier route to the summit of old Rag than the ridge trail rock scramble. I'd suggest returning on the saddle trail and then hiking up the old rag fire road to the Skyland resort area. It would be a long day or camping is possible en route except for the summit area of old rag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I think that Old Rag could be done as a one day detour off the AT. After doing the Rose River detour I suggested above, rather than rejoining the AT, take the Big Meadows-Skyland horse trail to the Cedar Run trail. Hike Cedar Run down to the Berry Hollow parking lot (a very nice walk), then road walk less than a mile on VA600 toward the Weakley Hollow fire road which will lead to a junction with the Old Rag saddle trail. The saddle trail is an easier route to the summit of old Rag than the ridge trail rock scramble. I'd suggest returning on the saddle trail and then hiking up the old rag fire road to the Skyland resort area. It would be a long day or camping is possible en route except for the summit area of old rag.
    There's a good snapshot example of possibilities presented by Coffee. I've done that hike he's describing which I also described on another recent S NP hiking thread where several other good S NP hike suggestions were offered based on similar goals as yours. Depending on the more specific logistical goals of your S NP time this could be accomplished by integrating it into a larger multi day "in the woods" hike, loop hike for example, or as an added on day hike on an easier day.

    For the most part and for the majority of the park's back country hikers hiking in S NP isn't deemed highly strenuous. With your allotted S NP time you can design a trip that experiences an excellent variety of S NP trails AND EXPERIENCES.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I think that Old Rag could be done as a one day detour off the AT. After doing the Rose River detour I suggested above, rather than rejoining the AT, take the Big Meadows-Skyland horse trail to the Cedar Run trail. Hike Cedar Run down to the Berry Hollow parking lot (a very nice walk), then road walk less than a mile on VA600 toward the Weakley Hollow fire road which will lead to a junction with the Old Rag saddle trail. The saddle trail is an easier route to the summit of old Rag than the ridge trail rock scramble. I'd suggest returning on the saddle trail and then hiking up the old rag fire road to the Skyland resort area. It would be a long day or camping is possible en route except for the summit area of old rag.

    thats kind of hiking old rag without actually hiking old rag, wouldnt you say? thats the other problem with doing it as a detour from the AT.

    i mean if one were discussing a trip to yosemite NP one could park a car and walk across relatively flat land until they reached the top of El Cap, but i dont think very many do. why? because the attraction is in the journey, not the destination. i think the same is true of old rag. the climb up is the attraction, not merely the act of visiting the summit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Jones View Post
    Last time we did Jeremy's Run (Northern section near Elk Wallow, a do-able one or two day side trip), we met lots of fishermen. Most were using flies I think.
    Yep. Hiking Jeremy's Run and then back up Neighbor Mtn back the AT would be a fun excursion with opportunities for fishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    thats kind of hiking old rag without actually hiking old rag, wouldnt you say? thats the other problem with doing it as a detour from the AT.

    i mean if one were discussing a trip to yosemite NP one could park a car and walk across relatively flat land until they reached the top of El Cap, but i dont think very many do. why? because the attraction is in the journey, not the destination. i think the same is true of old rag. the climb up is the attraction, not merely the act of visiting the summit.
    You have a point. The rock scramble is a great hike. I've done it many times as a day hike but never as part of an overnight. It is best done without a typical sized pack used for backpacking which is one reason I suggested the saddle trail other than the fact that it is logistically easier coming from the south. But another option would be to camp somewhere in the vicinity of the fire road and do the Old Rag loop as a day hike and then continue on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    You have a point. The rock scramble is a great hike. I've done it many times as a day hike but never as part of an overnight. It is best done without a typical sized pack used for backpacking which is one reason I suggested the saddle trail other than the fact that it is logistically easier coming from the south. But another option would be to camp somewhere in the vicinity of the fire road and do the Old Rag loop as a day hike and then continue on.
    and i again put forth the notion that as equally prohibitive as the idea of only hiking the AT while visiting SNP is, so is the notion that one cant get in a car and drive to else where ion the park at some point as opposed to going through all sorts of contortions to string everything into 1 single unbroken hike.

    truly experiencing old rag, it seems we both agree, is best not done as part of a long backpacking hike. so why not do it not that way? seems an easy solution.

    is camping anywhere on or near the loop hike allowed? i had thought it wasnt. i jsut recall initially thinking id try and work it into my AT hike through the park and almost instantly abandoning the notion as a waste of time. so i hikjed through the park on the AT, spent a night in front royal, then drove to the old rag trailhead. easy enough solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    and i again put forth the notion that as equally prohibitive as the idea of only hiking the AT while visiting SNP is, so is the notion that one cant get in a car and drive to else where ion the park at some point as opposed to going through all sorts of contortions to string everything into 1 single unbroken hike.

    truly experiencing old rag, it seems we both agree, is best not done as part of a long backpacking hike. so why not do it not that way? seems an easy solution.

    is camping anywhere on or near the loop hike allowed? i had thought it wasnt. i jsut recall initially thinking id try and work it into my AT hike through the park and almost instantly abandoning the notion as a waste of time. so i hikjed through the park on the AT, spent a night in front royal, then drove to the old rag trailhead. easy enough solution.
    About a mile (estimated) up the Weakly Fire Road where the Corbin Hollow Trail intersects is a nice campsite on the left with access to water. I camped there and then hiked up old rag for a sunrise picture last October. I just did a sunrise hike last weekend and it was packed even starting at 4:30 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    and i again put forth the notion that as equally prohibitive as the idea of only hiking the AT while visiting SNP is, so is the notion that one cant get in a car and drive to else where ion the park at some point as opposed to going through all sorts of contortions to string everything into 1 single unbroken hike.

    truly experiencing old rag, it seems we both agree, is best not done as part of a long backpacking hike. so why not do it not that way? seems an easy solution.
    Well I never argued against driving to the Old Rag trailhead or doing it as a dayhike (the only way I've ever done it), only that it could be incorporated into a linear hike of the park using the AT as a main corridor but branching off as desired. But reading the OP post again, they do have a car so driving to the Old Rag trailhead would be an option. I'd recommend that.

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