“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”John Muir
Shenandoah National Park: majestic blue mountains, brilliant orange sunsets, roaring waterfalls, pastel wildflowers, fragrant forests and so much more. It is more than just a park to visit. The expansive views and wilderness trails provide opportunity for introspection and spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
Trail Tracing Shenandoah National Park
In 2016, my husband, dogs and I hiked the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park. At that time, we completed a few side trails, but stuck mostly to our plan of walking the 101 miles northbound on the white blazed trail. I have fond memories of those days, therefore we have returned annually for weekend adventures. Last year, we completed a southbound hike of the 250 mile Tuscarora Trail, finishing at the terminus in the Matthew’s Arm region of the SNP
It was after that August weekend, we committed to hike all of the 500+ miles of the park.
Trail tracing (previously known as redlining) is a term used by hikers working to trek all of the trails in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The term means walking every mile of every trail in a designated region, then marking the completion map with a red marker. I like the concept, so we’ve adopted that terminology for our Shenandoah project.
About the SNP
Shenandoah National Park (SNP) is located in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. It was established in 1935 and encompasses close to 200,000 acres, with 80,000 designated as protected wilderness. Skyline Drive, a 105 mile byway, winds through the park and hosts 75 overlooks and access to hiking trails, camp grounds and lodging facilities. The National Park is home to more than 300 species of animals and thousands of plant varieties. There are more than 90 streams, many hosting lovely cascades and booming waterfalls.
The park has 4 entrance points. Click the links below for directions::
- Front Royal (North) – Route 340 in Front Royal
- Thornton Gap – Route 211 east of Luray, west of Sperryville
- Swift Run Gap – Route 33 east of Elkton
- Rockfish Gap (South) – Route 64 east of Waynesboro
There is an entrance fee. You can choose from the Shenandoah fee options or purchase the National Park Service pass for year-long access to more than 2,000 parks and wildlife refuges. There are also 5 free days per year:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January)
- First Day of National Park Week (April)
- Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (August)
- National Public Lands Day (September)
- Veterans Day (November)
Our Shenandoah Adventure
Since we have already walked northbound on the Appalachian Trail through SNP, we have a good snapshot of the terrain, wildlife and animal life in the region. To complete the remaining 400+ miles, we have divided the park into 3 sections: North, Central and South. The northern section includes trails between the Front Royal and Thornton Gap entrances, Skyline Drive mile markers 0 to 31.5. The central section includes the region between Thornton Gap and Swift Run Gap, miles 31.5 to 65.5. And the southern section consists of trails south of Swift Run Gap, ending at Rockfish Gap, miles 65.5 to 105.
Blogs of our hikes will be posted regularly to share our adventure and give you ideas for your own treks. Each blog will include a story of the day, details on the hike, a map, photos and an occasional video. You can also follow along on Instagram.
Below is an up to date map of our progress. Thanks for following along!
Yes, in joy you shall go forth, in peace you shall be brought home; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, all trees of the field shall clap their hands.In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow, instead of nettles,[e] the myrtle. This shall be to the Lord’s renown, as an everlasting sign that shall not fail.Isaiah 55:12-13 NABRE
Are you ready for a story? Read about my first hitch hiking experience!
A Trail Story: Hitching a Ride in Shenandoah National Park
Hitchhiking, picking up strangers and making new friends. It is all part of the Appalachian Trail backpacking experience!