Hiking Lodge to Lodge on the Appalachian Trail

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. The Appalachian Trail is the best known of these and this section of the trail is absolutely gorgeous in all seasons. Because Skyline Drive follows this crest, the AT feels a little less remote here than in other sections, but that is more than made up for by the presence of well-spaced lodges along the way, offering 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 go lodge to lodge on the Appalachian Trail. Maximum group size: 12

Highlights

  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park without having to carry a 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

October 17 to October 22, 2021
$1995.00 - FULL
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October 24 to October 29, 2021
$1995.00 - FULL
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May 15 to May 20, 2022
$2125.00 - FULL
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May 29 to June 03, 2022
$2125.00 - 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 Sunday through breakfast on Friday
  • 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. While the trail ups and downs are not huge (i.e less than 1000 feet at a time), they are continuous and there is little flat. 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. On several days there are options for longer hikes; if you choose to do all of them, this trip would be closer to a rating of 4, and your aerobic conditioning should be for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 days a week. There are typically 4 to 6 hours of daily activity. Rating: 1 2[3][4] 5

This trip is all about hiking the Appalachian Trail in style. You can have a trail name, hike from 5.5 to 9.7 miles a day (depending on individual choices) going up and down and up and down, immerse yourself in the lore and natural history of the Appalachian Trail - and end every night with a hot shower and soft bed.

We'll spend the first night at The Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia and the last night at the Mimslyn Inn. In between we'll spend the nights at the Park Lodges Park Lodges. Two nights at Big Meadows Lodge and one night at Skyland Lodge. The two lodges are standard rooms with 2 beds and a bathroom in each room. The Mimslyn offers a variety of single rooms, double rooms and double cottages. All have shared bathrooms. There are 4 single supplements available for this trip.

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
If you are flying in, plan to arrive Dulles Airport (IAD) by 2PM. We will pick you up at the airport and make the hour and a half drive to the town of Luray, Virginia. If you are driving, you can meet us at our lodging (Mimslyn Inn) at 4:30PM. We will gather to introduce ourselves and start getting to know each other and then begin our trip orientation. We will stop for dinner and then finish up any topics not yet covered. (D)
DAY 2
After a hearty breakfast we pack up and head for the South River Falls Picnic Area. We will start our hike appreciating the fact that the van carries our luggage to our next lodging, Big Meadows. 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. We end today’s hike at Lewis Mountain Campground and Cabins where we can admire the rustic cabins and visit the camp store for any last minute items (like sweet snacks!). Tonight we'll enjoy dinner in the Big Meadows Dining Room before retiring to our comfortable rooms. Mileage today: 5.5 miles (B, L, D)
DAY 3
We start our day with a short shuttle back to Lewis Mountain Campground and Cabins to begin hiking where we left off yesterday. Today's hike commences with a gentle ascent of Bearfence Mountain where we have a choice between the Scramble Loop (weather permitting) or staying on the Appalachian Trail. The scramble is a non technical, fun hands over feet climb up basalt rocks to a 360-degree view. Next we pass Hazeltop Mountain (about a 600-foot climb) followed by a bit of "green tunnel" walking that the AT is so well known for. After lunch on the trail, we descend to Milam Gap where our van is waiting. For those who feel finished for the day, we shuttle back to Big Meadows Lodge for a little ‘down time’ or perhaps take the path behind our rooms up to Blackrock, for a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside before sunset. For those who prefer to continue hiking, it’s an additional 3 miles to our Big Meadows lodging. Dinner tonight is once again at the Big Meadows 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. We will then continue on the AT to Skyland Lodge with optional blue-blazed trails that detour to panoramic overlooks. One in particular, the Salamander Trail, leads to the top of Hawksbill Mountain, the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park and widely considered to have the best views. We then descend to the Hawksbill parking area where we can either shuttle into Skyland Lodge or continue another 3.1 miles via the AT. Tonight's dinner will be in the dining room at Skyland which has a lovely panoramic view overlooking the valley below. This time of year, there is often entertainment during the dinner hours as well. Mileage: 4.2 - 8.5 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 detour off of the AT 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 will then continue to Pinnacles Picnic area where a shelter and lunch await us. After lunch we will shuttle north to Meadow Spring Trail and ascend to the AT again and 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! Backtracking to Meadow Spring Trail again we will descend to the vans for the short drive into Luray. After a chance to clean up, we’ll enjoy a final celebratory dinner together! Mileage today: 7.4 miles (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 is advertised by countless unsightly billboards. So you know it is a tourist trap but with good reason! The Caverns are really cool and definitely worth a visit. We will take the hour-long tour before driving back to the 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)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

4.9

(68 reviews)
4.8 Food
4.7 Lodging
4.9 Safety
5
(63)
4
(5)
3
(0)
2
(0)
1
(0)
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Amy D.
3 months ago

The guides, accommodations, and the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley made for a fantastic trip (we had near perfect weather, too).

Linda B.
3 months ago

Susan W.
3 months ago

Our two guides made this trip an exceptional experience.

Julie W.
3 months ago

The guides, food, transportation, organization… all of it flawless.

Annette S.
3 months ago

The trip was great! Lainie and Laurie did an excellent job of making sure we were all happy and comfortable!

Pam F.
3 months ago

The description of the trip as a 3 or a 4 was quite accurate. The optional hikes were presented well by our guides and there was no pressure to do them.

Jennifer M.
3 months ago

Very well designed, lots of fun experiences included along with the main event--hiking! The guides were very good--knowledgeable, attentive, and fun. The various accommodations and meals were great,

Nadine H.
3 months ago

The trip was amazing. The guides worked tirelessly to ensure we all were prepared each day to begin our hike. Women, weather and walking one of the most beautiful places on earth. Perfect trip all the way around.

Barb H.
3 months ago

Kathy F.
3 months ago

First experience with a trip like this. Had a great time.

Jodie E.
3 months ago

Pamela M.
4 months ago

Susie S.
4 months ago

Karen R.
4 months ago

Loved the trip! Well executed and thoroughly thought through in all aspects. Beyond excellent!

Mary P.
7 months ago

Sarah W.
10 months ago

Deborah A.
10 months ago

Janice M.
10 months ago

The trip exceeded my expectations. It was the guides who made it happen.

Cassandra K.
10 months ago

Margaret T.
10 months ago

Noele C.
11 months ago

Far beyond what I’d hoped for.

Barb H.
11 months ago

Roxy B.
11 months ago

I didn't know what to truly expect. With that said I enjoyed it. It was one of those hikes that you reflect on and realize it was rewarding. Weather was in our favor and the group of gals and guides made for a great week!

Lynn W.
11 months ago

Weather was great, fun participants, nice accommodations, delicious food. Enjoyed this section of the AT for the second time, did the trip in Spring 2016. Enjoyed it a bit more in the spring.

Gail M.
11 months ago

Brenda S.
11 months ago

Exceeded my expectations. This was my first AGC trip but not my last

Carolyn W.
11 months ago

The hiking was a little harder than I thought but I also prepared less than I should have.

Cheryl D.
11 months ago

Ronelle B.
2 years ago

Lou F.
2 years ago

Kathy W.
2 years ago

This trip was exactly what I was looking for - hiking the AT without camping.

Pamela S.
2 years ago

Except for the first night the accommodations were very nice! It was amazing that all 12 of us women got along so well

Diane S.
2 years ago

Every day was a highlight! Particularly fun was the last night's lodging at what I call the ACG sorority house, lifestyles of the rich and famous edition!

Nancy B.
2 years ago

Great group of women, guides worked hard and weather lined up to make for an enjoyable 4 days of hiking.

Jane M.
2 years ago

Sylvie H.
2 years ago

Great trip. I understood going in that a 3/4 designation may not be as demanding as I would like. I chose the trip out of interest in hiking the AT for the first time and the proximity to a family visit, following the trip. Claire and Sharon were awesome guides and adapted well to the various fitness/skill levels in the group.

Kim D.
2 years ago

The guides were awesome. The hikes were also as expected. Two things I'd say Offer more 'optional together' meals. As an introvert, it felt tiring to eat every meal together and I had to carve out my own down time. Also when there are significantly slower folks, there should always be 2 groups and not a pressure that everyone stay together.

Karen B.
2 years ago

The view, nature, and just being outside in general. The guides were wonderful- supportive, knowledgeable, engaging.

Ronelle B.
2 years ago

It was nice at the end of the day for luggage to be in the room. The guides were always accessible for questions and help.

Barbara A.
2 years ago

Getting to know the guides and participants. Seeing the wildlife (bear and rattlesnake) The food prepared by the guides. Pushing my physical limits and keeping up!

Debbie D.
2 years ago

Saw bears and a rattlesnake!

Joni L.
2 years ago

The lodges were great, hiking was beautiful, and the food very good. Always love the camaraderie of an AGC trip.

Cheryl H.
2 years ago

Overcoming my fear of bears. We saw bears 3 out of the 4 days and by the end of the trip I was Loki g forward to seeing more of those cute little bears.

Donna M.
2 years ago

I had high expectations for this trip, and all were exceeded! Wow. Everything was a highlight; there's no way for me to pick one or even a few things.

Anna M.
2 years ago

Great group of women, excellent food and accommodations, competent and kind guides, beautiful hikes

Doris E.
3 years ago

Highlights: Another great AGC trip. A typical AGC group of smart, accomplished, diverse and fun women who share a love of the outdoors and adventure travel. Competent, easy going, well organized and fun-loving guides who set the right tone from the start. Lowlights: None

Filomena D.
3 years ago

Karen A.
3 years ago

The people! Wonderful ladies

Jung-Chen J.
3 years ago

Excellent lodging and meals, extremely warm and understanding guides, and friendly team members.

Ginny W.
3 years ago

I was so excited to be hiking on the AT and the main highlight for me was being there, challenging myself and meeting and bonding with some amazing women.

Lois O.
3 years ago

Tara M.
3 years ago

I liked everything about this trip! The highlights were the guides, the ease of each day, and the food we enjoyed. The hiking was excellent but I expected that!

Karen N.
3 years ago

Very much enjoyed all aspects of the trip

Donna K.
3 years ago

Getting caught in the rain! Seriously, the guides were the highlight - Kim and Claire were awesome.

Diane S.
3 years ago

The group dynamic though very varied, worked well together. The weather though unpredictable, was in our favor. The guides were very transparent which made me feel comfortable. Comradery was excellent.

Dada G.
4 years ago

Fun, nice leaders and a great group! Loved the lodges.

Anonymous
4 years ago

The guides were wonderful! Clair and Kim were such good guides, both with great senses of humor, very knowledgeable about the area, and mighty good meal and snack planners. The entire trip was perfect start to finish.

Angelic W.
4 years ago

great vegan food options

Joann K.
4 years ago

I loved every minute, the guides were so organized, and helpful. The places we stayed at every nite was much more upscaled than I expected. Very nice!

Sandra B.
4 years ago

The guides were fantastic! They went above and beyond. I was out of shape, so I personally would have preferred a slightly slower pace and more chances to stop and take photos. I appreciated being given my own room on occasion.

Kathleen J.
4 years ago

New friends, great guides, stretching myself personally, beautiful scenery

Damaris H.
4 years ago

The entire trip was amazing. Loved the hiking and the leaders were beyond awesome!!

Judi M.
5 years ago

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I signed up for the trip 6 weeks prior. My concern was not my ability to do it, but my pace. The ladies and the guides never made me feel like a slow poke.

Julie K.
5 years ago

I appreciated that the whole trip was planned from accomodations to meals to transportation. Everything was laid out, planned and implemented. I was just along for the ride and amazing experience.

Christine D.
5 years ago

The guides thought of everything and kept us well informed of the plans, meals, weather, the trail and all. I enjoyed all the women. It seems that people come expecting to get along and do accommodate each other.

Lynn W.
5 years ago

Great location, guides, and group of women!

Catherine R.
5 years ago

Guides were wonderful. Hiking and trails were as described...so I could just enjoy the walk in the woods.

Michelle B.
5 years ago

The daily hikes were very well organized by the guides. Interaction between hikers was amazing. Food was great and accommodations were comfortable. I can't even begin to say enough WONDERFUL things about Karen and Kim!

  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.The exception is the night at Lewis CAbins where the guides cook dinner and breakfast - complete with coffee!
  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.
  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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