Weekend backpacking trip near DC
October 5, 2006 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a moderately difficult circuit hike within a 2 hours drive from DC for a weekend backpacking trip.

Hope to do a weekend backpacking trip with a couple friends- basic requirements:

*7.5 - 10 miles
*Decent camping locations along the trail

Our trip is planned for late-October.
posted by mhaw to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's been a long time, but I usually went to Shenandoah Park, around Old Rag mountain, for such trips.
posted by pgoes at 11:22 AM on October 5, 2006

Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails within it's borders. You can buy a trail guide from http://patc.net
posted by COD at 11:54 AM on October 5, 2006

and a few restaurants on the way if you plan it right....
posted by RufusW at 12:07 PM on October 5, 2006

The Billy Goat Trail has 3 sections along the C&O Canal Towpath, with Section A being a fairly challenging bit of rocky hiking with no small amount of climbing and clambering. It's also near the MD side of Great Falls, with a boardwalk to a lovely overlook. Very close to DC. Photos from my hike there in August.
posted by brownpau at 12:09 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Also, the NPS web site for Shenandoah has some decent overview maps that show at least the major trails in the park. http://www.nps.gov/shen/
posted by COD at 12:30 PM on October 5, 2006

Response by poster: Hmm... thanks for the responses- I've been to SNP many times- I was hoping for more along the lines of specfic trail recommendations/overnight camping spots.

Brownpau- Billy Goat is one of my favs, and a great day trip; but doesn't really lend it self to a weekend trip.
posted by mhaw at 12:45 PM on October 5, 2006

The Old Rag loop (up the ridge trail and down the fire road) could be fun, though some parts of the ridge trail will be extra challenging with heavy overnight packs. I've seen people camping in the flat area between the fire road and the stream - it probably won't be hard to find a legal spot in late October with the leaves down. There is no overnighting allowed at the lean-to shelters on that loop.

You can also make a loop from the Matthew's Arm region east of the ridge highway, for example see this hike. I'm not sure if it would be easy to find an overnight spot somewhere on that loop, but I like that area because you can get a little further away from the roads.

There aren't many (any?) designated spots for overnight camping in the SNP apart from the car camping sites and the cabins. I usually look for flat areas on a topo map, not too far from a water source.
posted by exogenous at 1:41 PM on October 5, 2006

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