Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail
4.5

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles197 reviews
Excellent
155
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5
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Sue L
Myrtle Beach, SC831 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
We aren't "through" hikers, but just doing very short segments, primarily in the SNP to enjoy and experience what those determined hikers do. It is peaceful and sometimes you'll come across one of these hikers (you generally can smell them coming) that will talk for a minute about their adventures. Wishing them all safe travels.
Written 28 August 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steve5863
Avon, OH12,823 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
We did not come to Shenandoah National Park to hike the Appalachian Trail, or the AT for short, but since the trail travels the 105-mile (169k) length of the park, we were bound to hike portions of the trail which was often incorporated into the local park trails. One can always tell when they are on the well maintained and marked Appalachian Trail by the white blazes or the stylized white AT on trail markers versus the blue blazes of the park’s trails or the yellow blazes of the horse trails. If you are backpacking or planning an overnighter, one can find shelters and outhouses at several points along the AT within the park.
Written 30 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Debbie
Hockessin, DE10 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2020 • Friends
We were on our way to Hawksbill and took the wrong route. We went on Salamander Trail and I need to applaud myself. It took us 2 hours to get to the top and it was amazing and I did it. Came back down Hawksbill lower trail. Remember there are 2 different parking lots. It is not easy but definitely worth it.
Written 17 September 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nicky Meredith
St. Augustine, FL514 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019 • Friends
Stepping foot on the AT was a massive bucket list tick. Due to time restraints, we only managed to get a few miles in before sunset. Just wow. The beauty of the area, the challenging trail, surrounded by nature - any trail runners dream. I will be back; still have hundreds of miles to explore!
Written 14 August 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eric A
Springfield, VA19 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2018 • Friends
I’m not a hiker but I hiked the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National park from Swift Run Gap to Thornton Gap. I did this over a period of four days while spending the nights at the park lodges or cabins. By my step counter, a total of just over 95,000 steps. So if you want to try, here’s what to expect.

There were two of us and we each had a car. The plan was to hopscotch the cars from location to location. We’d place a car at the beginning of the day’s route and another at the end. Once we hiked to the second car, we’d drive back to the first and pick it up.

The three main lodges/cabins that we used were Lewis Mountain, Big Meadows, and Skyland. Ending up at Thornton Gap, we left the park from there. We started by meeting up on Sunday at Skyland and spent the night there. On Monday we drove both cars out, leaving one at Lewis Mountain and taking the other to Swift Run Gap.

Once we arrived at Swift Run, we noticed that there was really NO parking there. There is a small strip as part of Skyland Drive where you can leave a car and there were a couple of cars already parked there. We just left our along the road in line with the others. Second is finding an entrance to the trail. Despite what you might read about how well marked the trail is, it’s not. It’s OK but signage is at a minimum. We walked along and crossed the overpass of Route 33 and finally found a concrete post marker with the “AT” marking on it at the edge of the woods. Now, we were on our way.

At this point, I should point out that the trail is more like a path. It’s mostly one person wide and you have to get out of the way of hikers going in the opposite direction. Also as you hike along, you’ll see white stripes painted on trees (seemingly at random) indicating you’re on the Appalachian Trail. Any other color, you’re on a different trail.

Now let me point out, from Swift Run Gap to Lewis Mountain it’s UPHILL all the way. If I had to do it over again, I would definitely go in the other direction. We started at 8:00am and dragged ourselves into Lewis Mountain Cabins around 1:30pm. We then had to drive back to Swift Run to get the car we left there and go back to Lewis Mountain.

On Tuesday, we drove one car to Big Meadows and hiked back to Lewis Mountain. This was a mixed bag of uphill and downhill. Easier than the day before. We used the car we left behind at Lewis Mountain to return to Big Meadows.

On Wednesday, we drove one car to Skyland and hiked back to Big Meadows. This, again was mostly uphill.

Thursday, we drove one car to Thornton Gap and hiked back to Skyland. This was UPHILL all the way and took us the longest time. Don’t do it in this direction if you can avoid it – unless you like going uphill. Almost solid rock covered the whole way too.

Some thoughts:

Of the few, very short walks that I’ve taken I’ve never used walking sticks. I bought a couple for this trip and used a single one the first day. The second day, I used both sticks and I’ve never looked back. Two walking sticks help with balance and can be used a ski poles to help push on the uphill sections.

We saw plenty of deer early in the morning on both Skyline Drive and the Trail. I saw one medium sized black bear on the first day, but he was running down the hill behind us about 150ft away. The rest of the time – nothing except squirrels and chipmunks.

The trail itself mainly consists of uphill and downhill sections. Flat sections are few and far between.

The pathway itself is primarily composed of small, medium, large and extra-large rocks. Make sure you have shoes/boots that can take the punishment.

We hiked in early October so insects and heat were not a problem. Also, the weather cooperated and we didn’t get any rain.

The trail is literally a “walk in the woods”. There is very little scenery other than trees in a forest. A few overlooks, a couple of good ones but, mainly, just looking at trees. There are no camp, resting, eating, or port-a-potty areas along the trail itself. Running water along the way consists of very small groundwater runoffs. At the official camp areas, there are supplies, toilets, showers, camping, lodging and water.

Even though I carried a backpack, the only things I really needed for the day was water (how much depends of the weather/heat of the day – I just carried one water bottle), power bars, walking sticks, rain gear (depending on the forecast – didn’t need any) and maybe a first aid kit. I had a cell phone which had spotty service along the way. I used it periodically to make sure we were still on the trail (I used an app called “Maps.Me” which doesn’t need cell service to work).

Finding the start of the trail each day was an adventure. Concession employees were mostly clueless about where the trail was. Park employees and Rangers were the best bet. Except at Swift Run Gap, there’s plenty of parking at the other areas.

Temperatures started about 55F in the morning and about 68F by the end of the days hike. I wore a t-shirt and shorts. The first day, I had a lightweight jacket on but after about 30 minutes of hiking it was already too hot so I never used it after that.

We saw a steady trickle of hikers. I tip my hat to those that do the entire 2100 miles!
Written 10 October 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dianna O
Columbia, MO96 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2017 • Couples
We wanted to hike the Appalachian trail and stay inside along the way.
We found Joby Chu of Time to Wine Tours 540.742.4962 to shuttle us from Swift Run Gap and then pick us up from Thornton Gap at the end.
We stayed the night before and after at Brookside Cabins and they were great, nearby, inexpensive and quaint and clean!
After getting dropped off at Swift Run Gap, we walked 10 miles to Lewis Mountain Cabins. It was not seven miles as some indicators had said.
Lewis Mountain Cabins were great but call ahead since when we arrived they tried to upgrade us to Skyland 20 miles away. When they learned we were walking, the guy rearranged something so we could stay at Lewis Mountain as planned. Also, you cannot see the cabins from Trail going north, you can only see the campground.
Next we stayed at Big Meadows Lodge. It was lovely but there is not really functional wifi there. They say there is but it is slow and intermittent.
Our final stay on the trail was Skyland. Again lovely but the wifi was too slow to be useful.
That aside both Big Meadows and Skyland were great and very clean and perfect for lodging to lodging hiking.
Note, the signs on the trail are oddly inaccurate. We would hike, check distance, hike more and find we had even further to walk according to the signpost.
It ended up 10 miles for each segment to Lewis Mountain, Big Meadows, Skyland, and 13 to Thornton Gap.
Best trip ever, even with rain two days.
By the way, we are 62 and 75, and did not train. If you are willing to walk slowly and enjoy yourself this is a wonderful way to see nature and the Shenandoah.
Written 26 May 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Seasick2013
Washington DC, DC110 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2014 • Family
The Appalachian Trail winds in and out along Skyline Drive and you can hop on and off here and feel like a "real" hiker. Fantastic views, even for inexperienced hikers or people who don't have much time. The trails are very well maintained.
Written 11 November 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hansonest
Gaithersburg, MD22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Couples
Dog loved the constant movement and attention from fellow hikers, eventhough she stayed on a 6 ft leash.
Written 25 August 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Charles A
Franklin, NC24 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2013 • Solo
As a through hiker, I really looked forward to the 100+ mile jaunt through the "Shennys". The trail was well groomed, the walking was easy, and the wildlife (bears) were abundant. Not to mention the frequent Waysides and Lodges where the hungry hiker can feast. This is civilized hiking at it's finest. I highly recommend the A.T. in the Shenandoah National Park.
Written 26 August 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

218billt
Asheville, NC49 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2018 • Couples
This 8.6 miles section was one of the more enjoyable sections of the AT we have hiked in Georgia, N. Carolina and Virginia. I would rate the difficulty level at moderate. There are two climbs that are not very long (especially at the end to Black Rock and Big Meadows Lodge), but most of the section is fairly level or moderately rolling. Several unbelievable long-range views across the Shenandoah Valley! Would definitely do this section again without hesitation!
Written 27 May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Appalachian Trail - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024) - Tripadvisor

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