Hiking Lodge to Lodge in Shenandoah National Park

Destination: Shenandoah National Park, VA

| Activities: Hiking

Shenandoah National Park straddles the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains as they run north and south for over 100 miles. Embracing rolling hills, quiet hollows, abrupt hillsides, and verdant forests, the Park contains over 450 miles of hiking trails - all absolutely gorgeous in every season. We spend our days hiking this beautiful park and 'come home' to warm beds and hot food at the end of every day. The human history of the park is also very interesting, and we'll learn about the people who inhabited this area for years as we hike through Shenandoah. Maximum group size: 12

Highlights

  • Hiking the trails of Shenandoah National Park without having to carry an overnight backpack
  • Enjoying the seasonal offerings in this beautiful mountain forest
  • Staying at beautifully situated lodges every night
  • Being surprised at just how cool the Luray Caverns really are
  • Having our luggage transported for us

Departures and Prices

May 14 to May 19, 2023
$2595.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Five nights double occupancy accommodation
  • All transportation during the trip, starting and ending at Dulles Airport (IAD)
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 to the final day
  • Entrance fees to Shenandoah and Luray Caverns

Not included: travel to and from Dulles, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is suitable for any woman who either enjoys hiking or is new to hiking and wants to learn in a safe and fun environment. As in any mountainous area, trails will be up and down but because the Shenandoah National Park is on the ridge, these ups and downs are very manageable. A rating of 3 requires aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. Rating: 1 2 (3) 4 5 Rating:1 2[3] 4 5

We'll be spending our nights at the Shenandoah National Park Lodges. The two lodges have standard rooms with 2 beds and a bathroom in each room. There are 4 single supplements available for this trip.
Big Meadows: Built in 1939 with stones hewn from the Massanutten Mountains and native wormy chestnut, Big Meadows Lodge has an easy, natural feeling and is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Skyland Lodge: The legacy of Skyland Lodge begins in 1888, when George Freeman Pollock Jr. makes it his mission to find the perfect spot for a summer retreat. He calls the property's breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley "beauty beyond description."

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Although just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is a land bursting with cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, fields of wildflowers, and quiet wooded hollows. There's much to explore with over 200,000 acres of protected lands that are a haven for deer, songbirds, and black bears! The best way to explore this park is on foot, and we’ll be covering as much of the park as possible during our week in the Shenandoah Mountains! If you are flying in, plan to arrive at Dulles Airport (IAD) by 2 PM. We will pick you up at the airport and make the hour-and-a-half drive to the park. If you are driving, you can meet us at our first lodging – the Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah at 4:30 PM. We will gather to introduce ourselves and start getting to know each other before a trip orientation and dinner. (D)
DAY 2
After a hearty breakfast we’ll pack our day packs and head for the South River Falls Picnic Area. Our hike today begins with walking on the famous Appalachian Trail for a short way to a fire road. We’ll take the fire road down to South River Falls where, depending on the time, we’ll enjoy a snack or lunch beside the falls. We’ll return to the trail using the fire road and head toward Lewis Mountain Campground and cabins. The hike today is a lovely 5.5-mile section with great overhead canopy. It is one of the easier parts of the trail, fairly level with just enough up and down to be interesting, giving us the perfect beginning to stretch our legs. Along the way we may see black bears foraging for berries, peregrine falcons soaring overhead, or notice brightly colored salamanders scurrying underfoot. We end today’s hike at Lewis Mountain Campground and Cabins where we can admire the rustic cabins and visit the camp store for a well-deserved treat! Tonight, we'll enjoy dinner in the Big Meadows Dining Room before retiring to our comfortable rooms. Mileage today: 6.5 miles (B, L, D)
DAY 3
We start our day with a short shuttle to Bearfence Scramble trailhead. Once at the ‘back entrance’ to the scramble, we’ll hike up to the ‘staircase’ leading to the scramble. This is actually the exit, so we’ll hike about .2 tenths of a mile to the entrance before entering the trail. The scramble is non-technical and very fun hands-over-feet climb up basalt rocks to a 360-degree view. After descending the scramble and enjoying our success, we’ll continue up Hazeltop Mountain (about a 600-foot climb), followed by a bit of "green tunnel" walking to Milam Gap, where our van is waiting. For those ready to relax at the lodge for the day, we shuttle back to Big Meadows from Milam Gap. For those who prefer to continue hiking, we’ll backtrack just a bit after replenishing our water and snacks to the Rapidan trail down to President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover’s summer place in Shenandoah. We can explore and read about the history of Rapidan Camp before we return to our van and head to those wonderful showers! Dinner tonight is once again at the Big Meadow's beautiful dining room. Mileage: 6.1 - 8.4 miles (B, L, D)
DAY 4
Before continuing our hiking today, we will stop at the Big Meadows Visitor's Center where we can tour the exhibits, watch the park movie, and buy some souvenirs. After immersing in the history of the park at the Visitors Center, we’ll head north on Skyline Drive to Fisher’s Gap where we first admire the view and then head to Rose River Trailhead just across the road! Rose River Trail is a 3.8-mile loop considered ‘moderately challenging’. Rose River Trail is best known for the Rose River Waterfall but offers views of other cascades all along the route. After hiking, we’ll head to our next lodging – Skyland where we’ll enjoy lunch and then decide what the rest of our day will be. Options abound! You can choose to explore our new digs, visit the Massanutten Lodge (a historic building on the grounds), curl up with a good book or join your guides for an afternoon loop hike up Hawksbill Mountain (2.7 miles) – the highest point in the Shenandoahs! If your choice is hiking, we’ll shuttle to the lower Hawksbill parking area and make our way to Salamander Trail. Salamander Trail leads to the top of Hawksbill Mountain, the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park and widely considered to have the best views. Paying close attention to our wooded surroundings, we can appreciate the people and efforts that have united to make Shenandoah the outstanding park that it is. Over three hundred of Shenandoah National Park's historical structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We may notice a cluster of apple trees that used to be a planted orchard or a rock wall that was hand built by Civilian Conservation Corps members. Truly, there is history everywhere in Shenandoah for those that take the time to notice it! We then descend to the Hawksbill parking area where we’ll return to Skyland Lodge. Tonight's dinner will be in the dining room at Skyland which has a lovely panoramic view overlooking the valley below. Mileage: 3.8 - 6.5 miles (B, L, D)
DAY 5
This is our last hiking day, so we will go out in style by hiking to as many beautiful vistas as possible. We greet the morning with a hike on the Stony Man Nature Trail. This gentle trail leads to the top of Stony Man hill with a sweeping view over the valley to the Massanutten Mountains beyond. We’ll then hike toward the Stony Man cliffs, where we’re treated with a view of the Stony May profile, knowing that we were just standing on his forehead! We’ll continue to the lower Stony Man parking area, where we’ll hop in the van and head to the Pinnacles Picnic area to enjoy our last picnic in this beautiful park. After lunch, we will shuttle north to Meadow Spring Trail and ascend to the ridge again to continue to our last amazing spot of the week, Mary's Rock. Though the exact naming origin is unclear with many varied folk tales, one thing is certain, the view is outstanding! One legend maintains that a girl named Mary climbed the mountain alone and then came back with a bear cub in her arms! Backtracking to Meadow Spring Trail again, we will descend to the van for our return to Skyland Lodge. After a chance to clean up, we'll join our guides near their room for appetizers and a chance to talk about our week before heading to the dining room for a final celebratory dinner together! Mileage today: 6.4 miles Overnight: Skyland Lodge (B, L, D)
DAY 6
But wait, there's more! If you grew up on the East Coast, you have undoubtedly heard of the Luray Caverns, which are advertised by countless attention-grabbing billboards. So, you know it is a tourist trap but with good reason! The Caverns are intriguing and definitely merit a visit so we will leave the Shenandoah’s and head to the caverns for an hour-long tour of this underground spectacle. After enjoying the cool temperatures and amazing sights we will begin the 2-hour drive to the Dulles Airport. . We will have you back to the Washington Dulles (IAD) airport by 1:00PM and you can plan to fly out any time after 2:30PM. If you drove, you can plan to be on the road by 11AM. (B)

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  1. Where do we eat?

    Breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch or occasionally lunch will be picnic style.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. Breakfast are either ordered off of a menu or continental style with a selection of options. Dinners eaten in restaurants can be ordered off of menus.
    Check out the menus here:
    Big Meadows breakfast menu: www.goshenandoah.com/dining/big-meadows-lodge/breakfast-menu

    Big Meadows dinner menu: https://www.goshenandoah.com/dining/big-meadows-lodge/dinner-menu

    Skyland Lodge breakfast menu: https://www.goshenandoah.com/dining/skyland/breakfast-menu

    Skyland Lodge dinner menu: https://www.goshenandoah.com/dining/skyland/dinner-menu
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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