Backcountry Trips

We are here to help you plan your backcountry adventure! Call (540) 999-3500 ext. 3720 to speak to a backcountry Ranger. This phone line is staffed on Monday and Thursday. Messages left on other days will be answered as soon as possible. The difficulty levels for finding campsites and hiking can vary from the given levels with adverse weather conditions and other environmental factors. For example, rain can heavily impact stream crossings. The timing of your trip can also impact the availability of easily accessible campsites. It can become more difficult to find legal campsites during weekend trips and trips on heavily traveled trails. Talking to a Ranger is the best way to ensure that your experience will meet your expectations. Before you set out into the park, make sure to review the rules and regulations and safety tips for traveling in Shenandoah's backcountry.

May-June are peak months for northbound thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail, while September is the peak month for southbound hikers. In order to minimize resource impact, it is best to plan a trip that avoids camping on the Appalachian Trail during these months.
 
 

Beginner Camping

These trips have campsites which are relatively easy to find.

Beginner Camping - Easy Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Nights Entry Notes Mileage
Hickerson Hollow Forested valley, small stream 1 9.2 2
Laurel Prong & Hazeltop Streams, waterfalls, history 1 52.8 7.4
Corbin Cabin & Nicholson Hollow Waterfalls, swimming, history 1 37.9 F 4
Rose River Loop Waterfalls, crowded on weekends 1 49.2 C 4-4.4
Nicholson Hollow Cascades, swimming, history 1 Rt 600 G 4-14
Hickerson Hollow from boundary Forested valley, small stream 1 Rt 604 F W 2
Graves Mill Gentle trail, river, swimming 1 Rt 662 F 1.2-4.2
Big Meadows & Rose River Waterfalls, crowded on weekends 2 52.8 F C 14
Loft Mtn & Jones Run, 9 miles Waterfalls, views 2 79.5 F G 9
Hawksbill to Swift Run via Laurel Prong Highest peak, waterfalls, history 3 45.6 F 23


Beginner Camping - Moderate to Strenuous Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Nights Entry Notes Mileage
Elkwallow & Jeremys Run Valley, fishing 1 22.2 F 6.7-15
Big Run Loop & Big Run Portal Flexible trip, valley, fishing 1 81.2 F G 5.4-12
Big Run Loop & AT Circuit Valley, fishing 1 81.2 F G 6.8-13.8
White Rocks History, small cave, waterfall 1 33.5 F G 5-18.5
Nicholson Hollow & Hot-Short Mountain Cascades, history, swimming 1 Rt 600 F G 10.2-12.2
Elkwallow & Jeremys Run, 2 nights Valley, fishing 2 22.2 F 6.7-15
Lewis Mountain & Laurel Prong Streams, waterfalls, history 2 62.8 F 17.3
AT: Swift Run Gap to Wildcat Ridge Views along mountaintop 4 65.5 F C 33
AT: Swift Run Gap to Wildcat Ridge - Cabin Views along mountaintop 4 65.5 F W C 33


Beginner Camping - Strenuous Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Nights Entry Notes Mileage
Corbin Mtn & Nicholson Hollow, 1 night Cascades, history, swimming 1 38.4 FG 11.6
Whiteoak Canyon & Cedar Run, short Waterfalls, avoid on weekends 1 45.6 8-14
Robertson Mtn & Berry Hollow Weekday trip, views 1 Rt 600 9.3
Robertson Mtn & Corbin Hollow Weekday trip, views 1 Rt 600 C 9.8
Nicholson Hollow & Corbin Mtn from boundary Cascades, history, swimming 1 Rt 600 G 12.3
AT: Hawksbill to Swift Run Mountaintop views 2 45.6 F G C 22.5
Mathews Arm & Jeremys Run Valley, fishing 2 24.1 G 16.6
Corbin Mtn & Nicholson Hollow, 2 nights Cascades, history, swimming 2 38.4 FG 11.6
Big Meadows & Laurel Prong Streams, waterfalls, history 2 49.4 F 19
Loft Mtn & Big Run Portal Valley, fishing 2 81.2 FG 12-20.7
Nicholson & Corbin Mtn, 2 nights from boundary Cascades, history, swimming 2 Rt 600 G 11.5-12.5
Graves Mill & Laurel Prong Forest, history 2 Rt 662 14.5
AT: Jenkins Gap to Pinnacles Views 3 12.3 F C 28.3
 

Experienced Camping

The trips below are designed for those with experience in backpacking, map reading, and finding appropriate non-designated campsites.

Experienced Camping - Easy to Moderate Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Night Entry Notes Mileage
Jeremys Run Circuit Trips Valley, fishing 1 24.1 F G 12.5-14
Hannah, Hot-Short, & Catlett Streams, swimming, history 1 35.1 F G 9.1
Big Meadows, Hawksbill, & Rose River Waterfalls, peak 2 52.8 F C 21
Loft Mountain & Jones Run, 14 miles Views, geology, waterfalls 2 77.5 F G 14.4
Overall Run & Beecher Ridge Waterfall, swimming, ridge 1 21.1 F G 12-14
Brown Mtn & Rocky Mtn Run Valley, fishing, views 1 76.9 G 10-13
Riprap Wildcat Views, cascades, swimming 1 90 9.5
Big Run, Doyles River, Frazier Valley, fishing, waterfalls 2 79.5 F G 18.1-26.8


Experienced Camping - Moderate to Strenuous Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Night Entry Notes Mileage
Mount Marshall & Bluff, 1 Night Wilderness forest 1 12.3 F C 13.4-30
Hull School & Thornton River History, fishing, forest 1 26.8 F 7.9
Whiteoak, Hawksbill Summit, Cedar Run Waterfalls, avoid on weekends 1 45.6 C 14
Rapidan, Fork Mtn, Rose River Horse-packing circuit 1 51.3 F 22.9-17.3
Slaughter Ridge & Conway River Horse-packing 1 56.8 14-16
South River & Pocosin Waterfalls, history 1 62.8 8.4
South River & Pocosin from Swift Run Waterfalls, history 1 65.5 W 15
Rocky Mount & Gap Run Views, history, remote 1 76.1 10
Moormans River Loop Views, swimming 1 94.1 C 17.3-20.3
Hannah Run & White Rocks, 1 night Streams, swimming, history 1 Rt 600 F 16.5
Old Rag from Berry Hollow best on weekdays 1 Rt 600 8.8
Whiteoak & Nicholson Hollow Waterfalls, history, wilderness 1 Rt 600 16.1
Keyser & Piney Stream, small waterfalls 1 Rt 614 W 13
Mount Marshall boundary, Bluff & AT, 1 night Wilderness forest 1 Rt 625 F W C 16
Thompson Hollow & Beecher Ridge Waterfalls, swimming, ridge 1 Rt 630 F W 9.8-13.8
Jones Mountain & Staunton River Ridge, stream, history, solitude 1 Rt 662 14.7
Furnace, Jones, & Austin from the boundary Waterfalls, geology 1 Rt 663 17.6
Overall Run Falls & Piney Branch Waterfall, streams 2 21.1 G 21.6-23
Overall Run Falls & Heiskell Hollow Waterfalls, swimming 2 21.1 15.6
Piney Branch & Piney Ridge Stream, small waterfalls 2 22.1 10
Neighbor Mountain & Jeremys Run Valley, fishing 2 24.1 14
Pass Mountain & Jeremys Run Valley, fishing 2 31.6 22.4
Pocosin & Dry Run Waterfalls, cliffs 2 62.8 F 6.7-15
Pocosin Hollow & Slaughter Ridge Waterfalls, history, views 2 62.8 19.3
Swift Run, Pocosin, & Dry Run Waterfalls, cliffs 2 65.7 F W 16-19.4
Brown Mountain & Rockytop Valley, fishing 2 76.9 18.6
Doyles River & Furnace Mtn Waterfalls, geology 2 81.1 16.6-17.7
Wildcat Hollow & NF Moormans River Views, swimming 2 87.4 21.5
Moormans River Loop, 2 nights Views, swimming 2 94.1 C 17.3-20.3
Hannah Run & White Rocks, 2 nights Waterfalls, history, swimming 2 Rt 600 F 16.5-18.5
Hannah Run & Hot-Short Mtn, 2 nights Streams, swimming, history 2 Rt 600 11.3
Compton Gap, Bluff, & Mount Marshall Views, geology, forest 2 Rt 610 F W C 20.5-40
AT: North District Views, geology 2 Rt 610 F W C 25-27
Graves Mill, Rapidan, Jones Mtn, 2 nights Forest, history 2 Rt 662 F 18.6
Paine Run, Doyles River, & Austin Mtn Waterfalls, geology 2 Rt 663 25.8
Furnace, Jones, & Big Run from the boundary Waterfalls, valley, geology 2 Rt 663 F G 26.6-35.3
Overall Run, Piney Branch, & Jeremys Run Streams, waterfall 3 21.1 G 34.2-36
Nicholson & Hazel Wilderness Waterfalls, history, swimming 3 33.5 F 18.3-27
Pocosin, Dry Run, & Saddleback Waterfalls, cliffs 3 62.8 F 10.1-15
Pocosin, Laurel Prong, & Slaughter Waterfalls, history 3 62.8 27.5-29
Swift Run, Pocosin, Dry Run, & Saddleback Waterfalls, cliffs 3 65.7 F W 16.4-20
Jones Run, Furnace Mtn, & Big Run Waterfalls, geology 3 81.1 F 19-27
Jones Run, Big Run, & Brown Mtn Waterfalls, geology 3 81.1 G 29
Jones Run, Big Run, Austin, & Furnace Waterfalls, geology 3 82.9 30
Hannah Run & Hot-Short Mtn, 3 nights Streams, swimming, history 3 Rt 600 11.3
Keyser, Piney, & Jeremys Run Ridges, valleys 3 Rt 614 25
Graves Mill, Rapidan, & Jones Mtn Forest, history 3 Rt 662 F C 18.6
Furnace, Jones, Big Run, Brown Mtn Waterfalls, geology 3 Rt 663 FG 26.6-35.3
Pocosin, Laurel Prong, Staunton, & Slaughter Waterfalls, history 4 62.8 34-35
Paine, Jones, Big Run, Brown Mtn. Waterfalls, geology 4 Rt 663 F 44.8-36.1
AT through SNP, average 15 miles per day Appalachian Trail 7 105 F W C 120.6
 

Advanced Camping

These trips are along routes where campsites can be difficult to find and are designed for those with extensive backpacking experience.
If you have extensive experience backpacking, you will probably want to create your own route and you are welcome to do so. If you are looking for solitude, contact the Backcountry office for information on dispersed camping in off-trail areas, but plan to avoid the boundary, developed areas, and Old Rag.You can generally find on-trail solitude by hiking down a one-way trail with no publicized destination. If you prefer a detailed route, we have a few advanced and winter trip plans.

Advanced Camping - Moderate to Strenuous Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Nights Entry Notes Mileage
Mount Marshall & Bluff, 2 Nights Wilderness forest 2 12.3 F 13-30
Hogback Mountain & Thornton River Views, history, fishing 2 19.4 F 18.4
Thornton River & Piney Branch History, small waterfalls 2 25.4 18.4
Swift Run, Pocosin Hollow & Slaughter Ridge Waterfalls, history 2 65.7 W 25.7
Mount Marshall Boundary, Bluff, & AT, 2 nights Wilderness forest 2 Rt 625 F W C 16
Flexible Trip in Nicholson & Hazel Wilderness Waterfalls, history, swimming 3 33.5 F 18.3-27
Swift Run, Pocosin, Laurel Prong & Slaughter Waterfalls, history 3 65.7 W 34-36
Simmons Gap & Big Run Valley, fishing 3 Rt 628 43.5-45.5
Furnace, Paine, Jones, Big Run from boundary Waterfalls, valley, geology 3 Rt 663 F 36.1-44.8
Winter Trip from Madison Run Wilderness, views 3 Rt 663 W C 36.4-38.4
AT through SNP, average 22 miles per day Appalachian Trail 4 105 F W C 110.5
Winter Trip from Simmons Gap Wilderness, dry 4 Rt 628 W C 30.2
Central District Highlights Peaks, waterfalls, history 5 33.5 F C 55
Jones Mountain to South River, Staying Dry Mountaintop, waterfalls, history 5 Rt 662 W 34.9
AT through SNP, average 17 miles per day Appalachian Trail 6 105 F W C 121.1


Advanced Camping - Strenuous Hikes

Trip (pdf) Features Nights Entry Notes Mileage
Riprap & Wildcat from the boundary Views, cascades, swimming 1 Rt 612 W 11.2
Pass Mountain & Piney Ridge Ridge, solitude 1 US 211 F W 21
Nicholson Hollow & Corbin Mtn Cascades, history, swimming 2 38.4 12
Paine Run, Riprap, & Moormans River Views, geology, swimming 2 Rt 661 27.2-29.2
Paine Run, Riprap, Wildcat, & Moormans Rivers Views, geology, swimming 3 Rt 661 C 30
Jones Run, Furnace, Lewis Peak, & Big Run Waterfalls, geology 4 81.1 F 30.4-40
Jones, Furnace, Lewis Peak, Big Run, Brown Mtn Waterfalls, geology 5 81.1 F 30.4-40
South District Highlights in 7 days Views, waterfalls, swimming 6 81.1 F 59.1-69.2
South District Highlights in 8 days Views, waterfalls, swimming 7 81.1 F 59.1-69.2
South District Highlights in 8 days, short first day Views, waterfalls, swimming 7 81.1 F 59.1-69.2
South District Highlights in 9 days Views, waterfalls, swimming 8 81.1 F 59.1-69.2
AT through SNP, average 8 miles per day Appalachian Trail 13 10.4 F C 105.3

Last updated: June 5, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835

Phone:

(540) 999-3500

Contact Us