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To let your rhythms attune to the natural world, women backpacking trips are the best way to learn just how little you really need to explore remote areas.
Explore Remote Areas
On backpacking trips, regaining perspective on what is truly important in life slowly occurs, simplicity replaces busyness, and the pressures of every day life recede. Backpacking is inexpensive, after an initial investment in equipment and clothing and can be a lifelong sport. You learn what you need to have a fun and safe trip on women backpacking trips. And we want you to become as self sufficient as you are interested in being, while we will always welcome your return to this Web site.
This section of the Appalachian Trail is known for spectacular views, indigenous wildlife and wild pony herds, towering azaleas and rhododendron, and high alpine meadows.
Appalachian Trail, Virginia
Between the Trails, you can check on staying here. Between the Appalachian Trail and the 34 mile Virginia Creeper Bike Trail, it is conveniently located in downtown Damascus, Virginia. If you wish to start your women backpacking here, this will get you within about 500 feet of the Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT has many exit and entry points.
Virginia Creeper Bike Trail
This hike is for women backpacking. The trip involves significant elevation gain and loss, strenuous hiking including carrying up to 30 pound backpacks, and early mornings. No prior experience is needed.
Passing along rolling terrain sprinkled with boulders and rocks and through deep canopy, you begin women backpacking the Appalachian Trail by skirting the northern slope of Iron Mountain. Just below the crest of Iron Mountain, you cross several small wetlands and streams before reaching the first steep ascent. With an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet, this climb to the Hurricane Shelter is approximately two miles. The shelter at Hurricane allows you to set up camp and unpack, and then enjoy your dinner. About five miles is the total distance.
Where the Appalachian Trail intersects with the Iron Mountain Trail, you start the next day with a short ascent to the top of Iron Mt. On the southern side of Iron Mountain, you will descend and continue on the AT until reaching the gap. Then, with its wonderful pools and cascades of cold mountain water, you cross the beautiful mountain stream of Fox Creek Gap. You will re-enter the forest on the southern side of Fox Creek and enter the Lewis Fork Wilderness Area, after crossing the paved VA 603. Then, to get to the next stop for the night, Old Orchard Shelter, you begin a sustained but moderate ascent up the northern side of Pine Mountain. You will be at 3,400 feet of elevation at Fox Creek and will steadily climb to about 4,000 feet of elevation over 1.5 miles. Total distance about five miles.
Iron Mountain Trail
Where the views are magnificent, your next hike starts with an ascent to the top of Pine Mountain. When cattle were pastured in the highlands during the summer months, you then descend to an area known as The Scales originally used as a corral for cattle during round ups. Complete with a wilderness campground host, trash cans, water source and an outhouse, it is today a beautiful back country campsite. You begin ascending again after passing through The Scales. With its magnificent vistas to the north and west, this ascent will take you up Stone Mountain. Known for their exceptional interest in the food you are carrying in your backpack, this will be your first opportunity to see the wild ponies that inhabit this part of the trail.
Pine Mountain View
You will cross another lovely mountain stream, Little Wilson Creek, which is not only a wonderful water source but offers great pools for cooling off on a hot day, as you near your shelter area for the night, Wise Shelter! Usually blooming at this time of year, with any luck you will also start seeing some of the amazingly large rhododendrons and azaleas. In a lovely meadow with a great view toward the east, your campsite is just shy of Wise Shelter. In 1 to 1.5 miles, your terrain today is mostly either down or up with elevation losses/gains of just under 1,000 feet. About six miles total distance.
This may be one of the most beautiful days of the trek! Climbing a rocky ridge to one of the many beautiful vistas you will be rewarded with today, you begin this morning by traversing through spectacular old growth forest in Grayson Highlands State Park. Leaving Grayson Highlands and entering George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, below you is Massie Gap, which you next descend into and cross over. Also, wild ponies frequent this area and you often see both the colts and the adults along the way.
Wild Ponies Frequent This Area
Once across the Gap, and until you reach the crest of the ascent, Wilburn Ridge, you continue ascending, steeply in some places. Above tree line on boulder and rocky covered trails, the rest of your day will be spent on rolling terrain. Continuing to offer vista after vista your path will skirt Wilburn Ridge, ascend stone stairs that skirt Grandview Peak with panoramic views of Stone and Pine Mountains; climb to Fat Man's Squeeze, a rocky but short tunnel through large boulders; climb down one short area of scrambling down; and emerge finally, with more vistas, onto an open field.
With magnificent views and acres of rhododendrons, at an elevation of 5,440 feet, at this point you are in Rhododendron Gap. Your final mile will take you through meadows and traverse a small pine forest from Rhododendron Gap. You will set up camp and if you still have energy set off to hike the highest peak in Virginia, Mount Rogers, upon arriving at Thomas Knob Shelter, your camp area. The trip ascends up with an elevation gain of about 500 feet in less than one mile and will take about one hour to get to the top. The old growth forest you hike through is beautiful but there are no views from the summit. Not including climbing Mt Rogers, the actual mileage today is only five miles but it will feel much longer.
What a way to go out, and your last day of women backpacking on the AT! With beautiful morning views to the east, your trail today will begin by traversing through an open area from Thomas Knob, then descending into another old growth forest with deep canopy and huge beautiful trees from the junction of the Mount Rogers trail and the AT.
Thomas Knob Shelter
With one of your last views north of you, you continue under canopy for a couple of miles and arrive at a meadow. Taking your time on this last day to enjoy the forest, skirting the meadow on the AT you continue under canopy. You see before you the final ascent of the trip as you enter an old orchard, and the trail climbs and then descends to where your ride should be waiting for you at Elk Garden. Distance about four miles. You made it. Wow! What terrific women backpacking!
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