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Shenandoah National Park, VA

Sep 23 - Sep 30, 2017 -- $1275 ★

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 day-hike beautiful hand picked destinations all over the park including iconic Old Rag, Hawksbill, Mary's Rock and the Bearfence Rock Scramble. We will also do some hiking on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail which spans the entire length of the park.

This trip is day-hiking / base-camping only, which means we will set up at Big Meadows Frontcountry campground and stay in tents in a group site all week. Big Meadows Campground has a pay laundry facility and a coin-op shower available as well as a small, not-very-well-stocked store. However, only 1 flat mile walk away is Big Meadows Wayside with a much larger store, museum and grill. Furthermore, Big Meadows Campground is situated right next to a rustic lodge with hotel-style accomodations and a restaurant. You are welcome to spend a night (or more) in the lodge (popular when raining) but you do so at your own expense.

Our journey will visit many of the marquee sights of Shenandoah National Park. The views are phenomenal from Stony Man Mountain and Mary's Rock. We will also summit Hawksbill, the highest point in Shenandoah National Park. We will cap this off with a hike to Old Rag, one of the most popular, difficult and sought after hikes in the entire Mid-Atlantic Region.

We'll almost certainly see deer and might see some black bear and other charismatic animals as well. The days are long and the temperatures are warm. If you want to do a day-hiking only trip, this is the trip for you


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 70s & 80s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s & 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures over 90 with high humidity and night temperatures in the 30s. Here is the historical weather.

Trip Leaders

Bruce Cannon


$1275 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Dulles (IAD), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, campground fees, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, National Park permits, insurance, and 2 awesome guides.

Important Notes

Yom Kippur begins the night of September 29th

Day-Hiking / Base Camping only

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Drive or fly into Dulles Airport (IAD). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving at say, 11AM or 5PM, then do so.

Take the free airport shuttle to Hampton Inn & Suites Herndon – Reston, 435 Herndon Pkwy, Herndon, VA, 20170, 703-230-1600. Call hotel's number for shuttle pickup.

Equipment shakedown

Trail mix distribution

"Before" measurements taken

Go to EMS Dulles, Dulles 28 Center [Wegman's], 22000 Dulles Retail Plaza, Dulles, VA, 703.421.4330 or REI Fairfax, # 11950 Grand Commons Ave, Fairfax, VA 22030, (571) 522-6568 for last minute or forgotten equipment

Go out to local restaurant for welcome dinner (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Second set of "before" measurements taken

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.

Free breakfast at hotel

Shuttle to Shenandoah National Park, Little Stony Man Parking Area

Today's Hike is Stony Man Mountain. It is a short and pleasant hike, and has some of the best vistas in Shenandoah National Park.

Hike 0.3 miles to the Passamaquoddy Trail

Hike 1.0 miles to the junction of Furnace Spring Road

Hike 0.5 uphill miles on the Furnace Spring Trail to the Stony Man Horse Trail

Hike 0.5 miles to the summit of Stony Man Mountain

Hike 1.0 miles on the Little Stony Man Trail / Appalachian Trail to Little Stony Man Mountain

Hike 0.3 downhill miles back to the vehicle(s)

Shuttle to Big Meadows Campground

Set up camp at Group Site D163 for the week. Big Meadows has laundry facilities and pay showers. It has a tiny store. A 1-mile walk from Big Meadows is the Big Meadows Wayside, which has a much more substantial store and grill. Big Meadows is also a lodge. At your own expense, you may elect to spend a night (or more) in one of their rooms/cabins.

Shuttle to Dark Hollow Falls Trail

Hike 0.7 miles down to the waterfall. If it's hot, it makes a refreshing shower.

Hike 0.7 miles back to the parking lot.

Miles today: 5.0. Total miles: 5.0

Possible bailout: Skyline Dr.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Today's Hike is Hawksbill Summit. At 4049', it's the highest point in Shenandoah National Park.

Start walking from Big Meadows

Hike about 3.0 miles Northbound on the Appalachian Trail

Hike 0.5 steep uphill miles to the summit of Hawksbill.

Have lunch at Byrd's Nest #2 Day-Use Shelter

Hike 0.5 downhill miles to the Appalachian Trail.

Hike about 3.0 miles Southbound on the Appalachian Trail to Big Meadows Campground

Miles today: 7.0. Total miles: 12.0

Possible bailout: Skyline Dr.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today's Hike is the Dickey Ridge Trail. It is a long hike, but it's downhill all the way.

Shuttle almost an hour to Compton Gap, elevation 2415'

We will need to shuttle another car to the end of today's hike. This will take about 45 minutes

Hike 10.4 downhill miles to the Front Royal Park Entrance Station, elevation 570'

Shuttle back to Big Meadows. This will take between 1 and 2 hours.

Return back to Big Meadows Campground

Miles today: 10.4. Total miles: 22.4

Possible bailout: Skyline Dr.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today's hike is Mary's Rock, with amazing sweeping views of Shenandoah Valley

Shuttle to Thornton Gap, elevation 2460'

Hike 1.7 rocky uphill miles to Mary's Rock, elevation 3514'

Hike 1.7 rocky downhill miles to Thornton Gap, elevation 2460'

Return back to Big Meadows Campground

Go to the Big Meadows Ampitheater

Hike the 2.9 mile Lewis Spring Falls Loop, stopping at the Falls Viewing Area and returning on the Appalachian Trail

Miles today: 6.3. Total miles: 28.7

Possible bailout: Skyline Dr.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Today's Hike is Old Rag, one of the premier destinations in all of Virginia. Today will be a fun but very challenging day. Make sure to read Preparing to Hike Old Rag Mountain and subsequently Hiking Old Rag. Although challenging, every Fatpacking participant who has attempted it has completed it successfully.

Wake up early (before 6AM). We want to make sure to get an early start and a parking spot.

Shuttle about 75 minutes to Old Rag Parking Lot, elevation 1100'

Hike 0.8 road miles to the trailhead

Hike 2.0 steep uphill miles

Hike/scramble 2.0 miles to the summit of Old Rag, elevation 3291'

Do not underestimate the scramble. It requires hands, arms, legs and yes your butt. You will be climbing on, over and under rocks. There is a lot of scrambling to attitude and patience are important. Despite the challenge, every participant who has attempted Old Rag completed it successfully.

Hike 1.3 downhill miles past Byrd's Nest #1 and Old Rag Shelter to Post Office Junction

Hike 2.6 miles back to Old Rag Trailhead

Hike 0.8 road miles to the car(s)

Miles today: 9.5. Total miles: 38.2

Return back to Big Meadows Campground

Possible bailout: Skyline Dr.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Break Camp and pack everything into the vehicle(s)

Shuttle to Bearfence Parking, mile 56.6

Hike the 1.5 mile Bearfence Rock Scramble.

End of hiking

Miles today: 1.5. Total miles: 39.7

Possible bailout: Skyline Dr.

Shuttle back to Hampton Inn & Suites Herndon – Reston, 435 Herndon Pkwy, Herndon, VA, 20170, 703-230-1600.

After measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony. Dinner not included in trip cost.

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Free Hotel Breakfast

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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