From: October 15 to October 21, 2017

Destination: Harpers Ferry, WV

  • Slackpacking Harpers Ferry - FULL

    The Appalachian Trail, while often rugged and remote, is designed to accommodate both people who want to hike the entire trail and those who choose to section hike it, either by backpacking or by slackpacking. This year we are delighted to offer another opportunity to slackpack another section of the AT, this time including parts of both West Virginia and northern Virginia. We begin our trip in Harpers Ferry, where the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) headquarters is located and also one of the few towns through which the AT passes directly. Harpers Ferry is a wonderfully historic town figuring heavily in the history of our country and most prominently in the Civil War for both the north and the south. The other end of this section is Front Royal, another historic town. In between are over 50 miles of beautiful AT trail, great shelter areas (including one with both a front porch and a solar shower), hiking along the perimeter of the U.S. Zoological Park, beautiful vistas over the Shenandoah Valley, the 'roller coaster' section (with those AT 'muds' and 'puds') – all the time following the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountain ridge that forms the boundary between Virginia and West Virginia. Join us as we continue our travel along the trail.

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

    Download Trip Summary and Packing List

  • We've designed the itinerary to take advantage of convenient access points along the trail and the intention is to do the hike as a linear hike beginning in Front Royal and finishing in Harpers Ferry. Please note that minor itinerary changes may be made due to weather and/or trail conditions.

    Harpers Ferry is a truly historic town and is completely walkable. If you have the time to arrive early, we strongly encourage you to come and experience the town of Harpers Ferry and its history and people. It will be possible to stay at the Teahorse Hostel pre-trip. This and other recommendations for pre-trip lodging will be sent with the Pre-Departure document 4 months prior to the trip.

    Sunday, October 15: Meet at 1 PM at the Dulles Airport (IAD) or 3 pm at the trip hostel in Harper’s Ferry. If you are flying, group transportation from the airport to Harpers Ferry will be arranged for 1pm. The shuttle ride is about an hour and will deposit you right at the door of the hostel. If you prefer to drive to Harpers Ferry, please plan to arrive at the trip hostel by 3 pm. We will start with introductions and a discussion of all things hiking as well as an overview of the week. Dinner will be out at one of the local restaurants and we’'ll head to bed early, anticipating an early morning. Overnight: Teahorse Hostel, Harpers Ferry

    Monday, October 16:  The first thing you'll notice this morning is a man in the kitchen! Yes, Benjamin! He owns the Teahorse Hostel and will be making us a breakfast; his waffles are famous among AT thru hikers. After breakfast, we'll shuttle to our first 'put in' spot - Chester Gap, just north of Front Royal. We'll join the AT as it travels alongside the U.S. Zoological Park for approximately 2 miles. The task for this first two miles? – find the tongue-in-cheek sign stating that 'Trespassers will be eaten'! These first few miles will be up with approximately 1000 ft. gain in elevation. Once getting to the top we will (of course) head down - which pretty much describes every day. Our destination for lunch is the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter area. This shelter has a great front porch as well as a solar shower and yes, running water! After lunch, we'll continue another 4.4 miles to our take out point in Manassas Gap. Tonight and every night we'll return to the hostel where the guides will prepare a hearty, home cooked meal, designed to replenish your spirits and your body. Mileage: 9.6 miles.

    Tuesday, October 17: Another day on trail! This morning and every morning, we'll enjoy breakfast before getting into our shuttle for the trip back to the place we ended the previous day. Starting at Massassas Gap we'll see the Discovery Monument, commemorating the site where the first English explorer saw the Shenandoah Valley. The trail today passes several AT shelters including Manassas Shelter and Dick's Dome Shelter. Dick's Dome Shelter is quite unique - a Geodesic structure located across a shallow, rocky river. The local Appalachian Trail club was building a new shelter in 2016 so perhaps you'll see the new one too! Our take out spot today is at Ashby Gap. Just before we get there, we'll see a rock wall that was originally surveyed by 19-year-old George Washington. After a long and absolutely satisfying day, we'll shuttle 'home' for another delicious home cooked meal and a bit of relaxation. 11.6 miles.

    Wednesday, October 18: Today when we leave the Teahorse, we'll have our day packs organized for another type of adventure. Yes, we're still hiking, in fact today is the infamous 'Roller Coaster! We will do the first 9.9 miles of the 13.5 miles of tightly packed ups and downs. Plenty of rocks, great challenging ups and lovely wooded downs. At the end of the day, though, we won't be shuttling back to Harpers Ferry but staying overnight at the historic Bears Den Hostel. There we'll be treated to a lovely al fresco pizza dinner (catered by a local restaurant) complete with a gorgeous salad and homemade dessert - pizza never tasted so good! Plus, you get a chance to see what the thru hikers like about this place - a soft bed and a hot shower along with lots of friendly faces and camraderie. Although we have that every night, for thru hikers its a complete delight to have it right on the trail. Mileage: 9.9 miles. Overnight: Bears Den Hostel

    Thursday, October 19: Leaving the Bears Den Hostel we'll first pass by the Bears Den rocks - beautiful granite and sandstone boulders that do look like they would make the perfect den for bears! The theme of the day continues to be 'rocks' - especially views from rocks, Raven Rocks and Crescent Rocks to name a few. We'll also pass through Snickers Gap - maybe a trail angel will have left some real Snickers?! Our destination and take out point for the night is the Blackburn Center, situated .3 miles off the trail. The Blackburn Center is another PACT maintained shelter area - in fact, it's the largest that is currently operated and they offer bunk space, enclosed shelter space, and tenting platforms for those who are backpacking. We'll meet our shuttle there and head back to the Teahorse. Since we didn't have a morning shuttle and our mileage is lower today, we'll have more time back in Harpers Ferry. We can enjoy a little down time or perhaps a stroll to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. We'll gather before dinner to enjoy a few appetizers before our home cooked meal. Mileage: 8.3 miles.

    Friday, October 20: Can it really be over so soon? Sadly, yes. And our last day on trail is going to be a great one! We'll shuttle back to the Blackburn Center, and hike uphill to rejoin the AT. We'll hike along the boardwalk (think beach?) of Laurel Springs, through Buzzard Rocks, and onto Keys Gap. But wait, that's not all! We'll continue through this beautiful terrain under thick canopy all the way into Harpers Ferry and to our Harpers Ferry home, the now very familiar Teahorse Hostel. Dinner out tonight will give us the opportunity to remember our week together, get all those 'trail names' straightened out, and say good bye until the next AT opportunity! Mileage: 12.8 miles.

    Saturday, October 21: Benjamin will be back in the kitchen this morning with those waffles, what a treat! And after breakfast? Our bodies will be confused - no hiking today! For those of you driving, you are free to leave anytime after breakfast this morning. For those of you flying out of Dulles, the shuttle will leave the hotel at 9am and you can plan to fly anytime after 12:00pm.
  • Price: $1375  (see this page for discounts). Deposit $300. There are no singles available on this trip. Please make sure you understand our cancellation policies.

    Trip Includes

    • Two experienced guides
    • Six nights lodging
    • All meals from dinner on Sunday through breakfast the following Saturday with the exception of one dinner
    • Daily shuttles back and forth to the trailhead

    What's not included:  Airfare to/from Dulles airport (IAD), one dinner, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities. 

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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

  • Enjoying the beautiful vistas over the Shenandoah Valley
  • Hiking the infamous "roller coaster": 13.5 miles of ups and downs
  • Learning the role that this area played in the Civil War
  • Staying in Harpers Ferry with its diverse history ranging from trains, canals, trails and more.
  • Experiencing hostel life at the TeaHorse Hostel and Benjamin's famous waffles!
  • Staying 1 night at the historic Bears Den Hostel along the AT

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