Backcountry Camping - Appalachian Trail Trips
All of these Appalachian Trail Trips should be planned for mid-July through mid-May (not in or near June) due to "thru-hiker season". The only exception is for those hiking the entire AT starting from Springer Mountain in Georgia, since June is when you are likely to arrive. Secondly, you should know that the AT crosses Skyline Drive many times; this is not a wilderness trail in Shenandoah National Park. Third, with one very short exception, the AT in SNP does not go near any streams, creeks or rivers; it is primarily a dry mountaintop hike which crosses the road frequently.
If you are thru-hiking or section-hiking the AT, keep the above cautions in mind. If you are looking for a nice hike to see all of Shenandoah, go to your experience level and pick a circuit hike. Many of them use a portion of the AT.
One time of year that the AT in SNP can be particularly nice is in the wintertime after a snow when Skyline Drive is closed. There is no crowding, and no chilly water to cross.
All of these hikes are one-way hikes, so plan a mode of transportation to get back to your starting point. Of course, you can make any of the trips twice as long by returning the same way.
*Road and trail conditions, boundary access and natural events such as wildfires or ice storms could close any trail at any time. Please have a back-up plan in mind if your particular route is inaccessible when you arrive.
*Number of Days - The top of each trip plan records the number of days for which the trip is specifically written. However, many trips have longer or shorter options at the end of the trip plan, under "options".
*Distance is always in miles.
*Entry Point – Shenandoah National Park has trailheads along Skyline Drive, intersecting roads, and the boundary. “MP” indicates a Skyline Drive milepost. The Skyline Drive has mileposts every mile along the drive, starting with 0 at Front Royal, proceeding to 105 at Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro. “Rt” refers to a State Route number. While a few of these State Routes have highway signs directing you to a trailhead, the vast majority of the boundary trailheads have no signs. You will need a good map in order to find most route numbers and trailheads. Finally, “US” refers to a US Highway, if a trailhead is directly off of a US Highway (for example, Pass Mountain Trail on US 211). Click here to find more information on State Route and US Highway boundary trailheads.
*Districts - N is North District, between Front Royal and US Highway 211 at Thornton Gap; C is Central District between US 211 at Thornton Gap and US 33 at Swift Run Gap; S is South District, between US 33 at Swift Run Gap and US 250 at Rockfish Gap; A is all districts.