From: May 20 to May 25, 2018

Destination: Shenandoah National Park, VA

  • Hiking Lodge to Lodge on the Appalachian Trail - FULL

    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 May. 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 

    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required).    

  • May 20, Sunday
    If you are flying in, plan to arrive Dulles Airport by 2 pm. We will pick you up there and make the hour and a half drive to the town of Luray. If you are driving, you can meet us at our lodging (Luray Caverns Hotel East) at 4:30 pm. 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.

    May 21, Monday
    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 Lewis Mountain 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, so it makes a good place to start. The Lewis Mountain Cabins are historic rustic cabins (yes, they all have indoor plumbing) and since we will be occupying most of them, we will enjoy the quiet of the area. Mileage today: 5.5 miles

    May 22, Tuesday
    Our destination today is Big Meadows. We start with a gentle ascent of Bearfence Mountain. We have a choice between taking the Bearfence Mountain Scramble Loop (weather permitting) which is an amazing hands and feet scramble up basalt rocks to a 360 degree view. Alternatively there is a very pleasant side trail. Next is Hazeltop Mountain (about a 600 foot climb) and a mile walking along the ridge, the "green tunnel" walking that the AT is known for. We descend to Milam Gap where our van is waiting. For those who feel finished for the day, we shuttle to Big Meadows Lodge, check in, and optionally take the path behind our rooms up to Blackrock, for a beautiful last view of the surrounding countryside before sunset. Alternatively you can choose to continue on the AT and hike directly into Big Meadow from Milam Gap. Mileage today: 6.1 - 8.4 milesMileage today: 6.1 - 8.4 miles

    May 23, Wednesday
    Before continuing our hiking today, we will pay a visit to the Visitor's Center at Big Meadows where we can tour the exhibits, watch the park movie, and buy those 'souvies'. We will then continue on the AT to Skyland Lodge - but it would be a shame not to take a couple of the blue-blazed trails that detour to panoramic overlooks. One in particular, the Salamander Trail, leads to the top of Hawksbill Mountain, the highest peak and widely considered to have the best views in the park. 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 today: 4.2 - 8.5 miles

    May 24, Thursday
    This is our last hiking day today so we will go out in style, as we hike to as many beautiful vistas as possible in one day. We will start with a detour off the AT on a blue-blazed trail, the Stony Man Nature Trail. This gentle trail leads to the top of Stony Man with a 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 via the Meadow Spring Trail and continue to our last amazing spot of the week - Mary's Rock, with its many varied folk tales. 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 will go into town for a final dinner in celebration of our week! Mileage today: 7.4 miles

    May 25, Friday
    But wait, there's more! If you grew up on the East Coast, you have undoubtedly heard of Luray Caverns, which is advertised by countless ugly billboards. So you know it is a tourist trap, but what you may not know is that 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 there by 1:00 and you can plan to fly out anytime after 2:30. If you drove you can plan to be on the road by 11:00am.
  • $1795  (see this page for discounts).  $300 deposit. There are four singles available for an additional $275

    Trip Includes

    • experienced guides
    • 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
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park without having to carry a backpack
  • Enjoying the May wildflowers 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

Register for this trip today

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