Explore Spring Break 2018 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Spring Break 2018 Map
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planned on this being a 3 day/2 night trip. it got so unexpectedly cold we ended up doing 2 day/1 night but it was an amazing hike. started at Doyle's River parking and hiked north around loft mountain before crossing skyline and getting into patterson because the loop will bring you right back to the Doyle's parking lot. easy going first day down to big run portal crossing the river 3 times with camping along the river. second day started easy enough just getting up onto the ridge on the way to Jones run. Jones run was busy because it was so scenic with the trail skirting the waterfalls. the second half of the second day was all up hill. serious up hill. I felt like we were rock climbing getting up out of the basin and then a steep, constant incline all the way back up to the parking lot. probably about 4-5 miles up hill at the very end. overall very beautiful hike but be prepared to get a workout

Today was beautiful for a hike!

hike is great, but dogs are not permitted at Old Rag - please correct your information!

Awesome trail.

Amazing hike! Completed 10/10/18. Started at the Limberlost Trailhead and took that to the Old Rag Fire Road to Weakley Hollow. Same route on the return after the clockwose loop. The 7 hour round trip with a few quick stops to eat, drink and enjoy the views. Prepare for a strenuous work out on the return trip to Skyline Dr. on the Old Rag Fire Road after completing the Old Rag Mountain section. Was sure I would encounter some bears or other wildlife on this trek but it was very quiet and solitary with exception of a few whitetail deer. Would do it again but would like to try one of the alternate routes to Old Rag such as Berry Hollow, Robertson Mountain or Corbin Hollow Trails. Cheers!

Trail was pretty easy but was not maintained well. Lots of fallen trees, bad erosion and poorly marked. When interesting with the tumbling rock trail I’m pretty sure the trail marker was taken out by a fallen tree. Not bad, not great.

backpacking
1 month ago

so, spider webs... i feel like its something worth noting because yes you are out in the woods so obviously you should expect spider webs. but its true there are a lot, at face level, and the webs are thick so you will notice each one. waving a long stick out in front of you helps, but if you dont want to march through the forrest looking like an outdoorsy wizard casting shitty spells with the worlds biggest wand, wear a mosquito mask and long sleeves.
also DONT DRINK THE WATER. even with a filter. due to the mining that went on in the area even a filter cant for sure get all the heavy metals out of the water. we did a water drop at the horse camp which is 11 miles into the hike and a decent place to stop and camp if you would prefer access to a toilet.
the hike is not for beginners. its long and hard and its easy to get turned around and end up on a horse trail if you arent paying attention to the trail markers.
outside of that if you are looking for a challenge to get you ready for something like the AT its got a good mix of terrains, altitudes, grades, and "you're on your own, so figure it out" frustrations to get your body and mind right. - John & Melissa

It was great!! We ended up starting at Hawksbill Gap parking lot because the Whiteoak lot was closed. We also went all the way down Nicholson Hollow to link up with Old Rag instead of going south on Indian Run, but the trail was absolutely stunning. We set up camp next to a stream and the sound of the water at night was so relaxing. I would suggest doing more miles on the first day because if you do the loop clockwise, most of your energy will be spend hiking Old Rag and Cedar Run. Old Rag is the most strenuous hike in the park and pretty challenging but doable with a 50L pack. Cedar run is straight uphill. Pretty much like climbing stairs for a few hours.

If you can start at whiteoak parking lot, I would suggest doing that so you can start with cedar run and end with old rag. I would just highly suggest doing those two trails on separate days.

There was some great camping spots all along Nicholson hollow. We camped about a mile or so past Corbin Cabin (a completely random cabin in the middle of the woods).

All in all, AMAZING hike and would definitely do it again!!

We did this as a 3 day/2 night backpack. The SNP website has it listed as one of their “backcountry camping” trips. We started on Patterson, which was quite the 3 mi descent, then had a pleasant, flat walk along Big Run Portal. While walking alongside the river a black bear crossed the river and passed right in between my husband and me. There were a few river crossings, and one we had to slosh through (not enough rocks to step on). We camped along Big Run Portal, and that first day/night we never saw another person. The next morning we proceeded along the route and started coming across people right away, all of whom had hiked in from the other direction. We accidentally turned left onto Big Run Loop Trail North (instead of turning R onto Big Run Loop Trail South) and after a steep 3 mile climb we unexpectedly found ourselves at Big Run Overlook. We were tired and decided that instead of hiking south along the AT to pick up where we were supposed to be, we would just cross over Skyline and go down Doyles River Trail and set up camp earlier than planned. There were a lot of people on this trail, which was a stark contrast from the day before. We hiked down about 3 miles, past the beautiful waterfalls, and found a great place to camp and soak my sore, tired feet. We actually met some other backpackers who suggested where to camp, and I think he might be the previous reviewer (Jordan Cox) because I see from the photos that we camped at the same spot! The next morning we started back in the reverse direction, going uphill, which was back on track for the intended route. It was also a lot easier on the toes but harder on my sore legs. The last few miles along the AT and Frazier Discovery Trail just seemed to go on forever and we were so happy to get back to Loft Mtn Wayside and have a bean burger before getting in the car to head home. All in all, it was a great weekend. Lots of challenge, beautiful scenery, and terrific camping. I know I couldn’t do it in a day, but would highly recommend it for the 3 day backpacking/back country camping.

A great weekend trip. We definitely underestimated the number of river crossings. I suggest water shoes or be prepared to stop and take your boots off and put them back on once you cross. The crossings were an inconvenience but they made the trip interesting. I will do this one again.

Beautiful hike. Lots of water(falls), plenty of wildlife, amazing scenery. Last 6 miles is a bit tough. Definitely start with Patterson, though.

Didn’t do the whole trail maybe 40% if it and the views were underwhelming. At least for the eastern side of the loop.

I did this hike over 3 days with my dog. We started at Mcafee knob and hit tinker cliffs that day and spent the night at Lambert’s Meadow Shelter. We got up early and headed out to the Andy Lane trail to the north mountain. I read the reviews and stocked up on water, and found a waterfall about 2 miles into the north mountain trail. The hike up the north mountain was no joke, it is steep and long! We made it across and spent the night at the Boy Scout campground by the dragons Tooth parking lot that night. Got up early and went up to dragons tooth (dog couldn’t do the last 500 yards due to the iron ladder climb) so we headed back down and picked up the AT back to the McAfee knob parking lot. Great hike, not crowded at all, but it is definitely a hard one!

limited on time I got dropped off at dragons tooth and hiked to McAfee knob parking lot for 10 miles. started the next morning at that parking lot and hiked about 13 -14 miles to andy Layne trailhead. good hike if someone can drive you around. got to hit all three icons. skipped north mountain.

The trail was a long hike through the woods with lots of changes in elevation. Overall it was not that interesting. The trail is coated with spider webs. I would have rated the trail at least a 3 if I did not run into webs every 10 seconds. It made the hike less than average. However being able to camp anywhere we chose to was enjoyable. At camp my father had a black widow crawling up his leg!

The mountains were so blue!! The views did not disappoint!

It was a good hike definately some big climbs, but water was available, well marked, pretty challenging climbing up to the blue ridge parkway, views would have been better without the fog and rain but it was great.

This is a great trail, but very hard to follow. I still have yet to successfully complete the loop, and after trying twice from both directions it’s safe to say that part of the trail is lost. From the south prong trail you can make it all the way along the ridge line, but as soon as you leave the ridge line and turn north the trail runs cold. Don’t attempt the loop, just go out and back, or connect the routes with country road 70. Fantastic campsites along this trail

Managed to finish the loop in 2 days, most of the trail is really easy going. there are camp sites all through out the trail and a great water source before north mountain. I brought extra from reading other peoples reviews but had plenty left when we got back on the AT. there are probably half a dozen camp sites on the north mountain trail and honestly I enjoyed that section more than the AT. Saw no one else on that section of trail and you are just walking this beautiful ridge for miles. wouldn't do the whole thing again but it was a fun over nighter.

If you are looking for a challenging, easy to navigate with plenty of vertical, excellent waterfalls and is in the mid 20s mile overnight, this is an absolutely wonderful trek. Some pretty fine Appalachian vistas, wind sucking climbs, periods of solitude mixed with clumps of tenderfoots and tourists keep it ever amusing. Then comes that close out rock scramble up Old Rag giving this adventure a "something to remember me by signature."
A few items if you plan to do this as an overnight. (1) Water. Assuming you carry a purification system, the only exception to plenty along the way are the stretches from the base of Hawksbill to Indian Run (about two miles after you leave the AT) and of course once you start climbing the Rag until you finish. Other than those stretches you can fill about a liter at a time and be fine. (2) Something about "Stoney Man" was a must do for this 60 something Dead fan. The top was fittingly cloudy but certainly worth the side trip. (3) Try to time your adventure to NOT hit Old Rag on a perfect weather weekend as It can make for more people around than you care for. I had the pleasure of a clear, 70ish degree July Saturday and although the folks were always pleasant, helpful and smiling it made for a bit of congestion and hollywooding. Nothing however can take away from the physical challenge and beauty that is Old Rag. Bottom Line, DO it !!

Great hike. First day was 10 miles through a beautiful forest. The last half mile is a little rough straight down the mountain to cranberry river. Second day was 12 miles all road walking except the last 2 miles straight up the mountain.

backpacking
4 months ago

The displayed trail starts at Boone's run, and is about a 3 mile hike in before hitting the loop. There is a campsite right at the intersection of the trails, as well as an AT shelter about 2 miles in. The trail is VERY wet and involves a lot of stream crossings, and overgrown trails. The trail has many variations, one being the AT, another being a light blue blaze that will take you up to Massanutten Ridge. I would recommended starting this hike from
a little further down Cub Run road, where there is an access trail that is only a mile and will take you to the same campsite.

hiking
4 months ago

Thanks to Christian who did a great and help full review! I followed his suggestion and did the loop in clockwise. Good thing about this loop is that you get to see everything on the center section of the Shenandoah. Bad part is...24 miles up and down the valley was no joke! Below is my part of the review and tips for future hikers.

Water: I carried three bottles of Smart Water(1L) and it was enough for two days. There is water resources everywhere and if you carry a Sawyer you wouldn’t have a problem.

Camp: finding a dissent campsites was pretty hard. I was using a single man mountaineering tent which doesn’t take much space to setup. And I was doing solo. But if you’re planning to use a bigger then a two men tent or hiking with a group, this could be hard. I camped out at the Nicholson Hollow Trail. (close to the junction of Indian Run ) *There were no camp site at Corbin Cabin so don’t bother to go all the way down there. I left some Pin marks on the map that I thought will be a good site for future reference.

Bears: I personally did not see any. Although, I was told that there’s a bear on the side of the trail from the southbounders on the AT. Hoping to see one but did not encounter.

So, who is this loop recommended for? Some one who would like to take their time and see the breathtaking sights of the back country. This loop will count up to 11 trails and plenty of stream crossing. Be prepared and keep on hiking!!

backpacking
5 months ago

Did this in three days! Lots of rain, but still got lots of great views. Definitely hard on the joints but worth it!

Great trails, lots of nice variety along the AT. Lots of places to fill up with water on the AT.

Great hike and lots of swimming options, especially for us since we chose a weekend of torrential downpours. This made fording the rivers a bit of an adventure. Started at Turk Gap and, on the recommendation of a buddy, hit the trail counter clockwise. It was mostly down hill or level for the first 12 miles or so. We started climbing right when we were looking for a spot to camp for the night. Unfortunately, the northern portion of the loop is bordered by private property on either side (as noted by signs and barbed wire) and lacks much level terrain. We ended up hitting the AT and heading north another .8 miles up and then down to black rock spring where there was a shelter and ample camp sites. May have been due to the several days of rain, but the camp site was pretty packed w/ thru hikers. Finished the second day heading back south down the AT, where we experienced some moderate climbs intermixed with gradual climbs. Only regret is that we didn’t go on a warmer day when the mandatory swimming (ie river fords) would have been recreational, vice a challenge to surmount. Hike would be much more scenic during spring or fall. Clicked 21.4 miles over the two days. Over all a great hike!

Best hiking in Virginia in my opinion, Dragons tooth was exceptional and extremely rewarding upon reaching the summit. I did this hike as a warm up to prepare for a much longer backpacking trip and i'm glad I did because I learned a lot about my gear and my self. Mental toughness is definitely a factor on this hike and demands focus and determination since there is a 15 mile stretch without water. Great hike to do if you are on the fence about thru-hiking the AT, i'm ready for it now.

backpacking
6 months ago

This was an awesome hike that I did as a 2 day 1 overnight backpacking trip. Following is some information that I hope is helpful. I would recommend doing it clockwise so you get to go up the boulders of Old Rag and end on the Fire roads. Note the bouldering is difficult with a full pack, I had to take it off about 10 times to go around, over, under, through the boulders. I was very lucky that I had awesome people around me that helped me lift my pack up a few times on some more challenging sections. Still possible alone, but definitely saves time. Very fun!
Water: There's lots of water along Cedar Run Trail and some fun river crossings until you get to Skyline drive. Then there's not a lot of water until you get to the bottom of Nicholson Hollow Trail. There's a nice stream there you cross 2x. There are also a lot smaller streams after you make the climb up Indian Run Trail, but I'm not sure how consistent they are during dry spells (it rained the day before I went). There's lots of water again along Corbin Hollow Trail.
Camping: I hiked about 14 miles day one, 10 miles day two. You may be able to camp at Corbin Cabin, I think that cabin is more than just day use but not positive. There were a bunch of camping spots on Indian Run Trail. I camped at a great spot just a little before Old Rag Fire Road. There may have also been some spots that followed back country camping rules at the beginning of Corbin Hollow Trail and off of Weakley Hollow Fire Road.
Note, at least this weekend there were a lot of people along the whole trail except for Nicholson Hollow Trail until I got closer to the Old Rag Parking area.
An amazing hike! I think next time I want to hike up Old Rag without a pack! :) ENJOY and Happy Trails!!

An awesome hike and great adventure...One of the best hikes I have ever been on!!

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