Woman hiking the Appalachian trail
Woman hiking the Appalachian trail
Woman with horses in green meadow on the Appalachian Trail
Camping the Appalachian Trail
Women hiking on a group adventure through the Appalachian Trail
Rocky trail and greenery on the Appalachian Trail
Female travel group chatting by campsite on Appalachian Trail
Woman smiling with horse on Appalachian trail
All women travel group camping on the Appalachian Trail
View from the Appalachian Trail
Horse and calf in green grass on the Appalachian trail
Walking the Appalachian trail with female travel group
Woman enjoying view on the Appalachian Trail
Green meadow in the mountains of Appalachian trail

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack

Destination: Roanoke, VA

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; that is, hike a new section every year. This year we continue our tradition of offering a new section hike, again returning to southern Virginia. In this section the AT follows the rocky, twisted backbone of Tinker Ridge for some 13 miles. It crosses a series of sandstone outcrops with spectacular views of farms and orchards in the Valley of Virginia and Catawba Valley, of North Mountain, of the jagged shore of Carvin's Cove Reservoir, and of the towering ridges encircling it. The route then follows the crest of Catawba Mountain for eight miles, with significant ups and downs along the way. Near the middle of this section, the trail follows Big Tinker Valley and the mountain ridges beyond.


  • Adding to your personal mileage on the AT!
  • Some of the best known landmarks on the AT, including the Audie Murphy monument, Dragon's Tooth, Tinker Cliff and McAfee Knob
  • Backpacking through beautiful and historic central Virginia in cool autumn weather during the height of fall foliage
  • Enjoying a 'beach at elevation' on Dragon's Tooth
  • Staying at an AT hostel - a unique AT experience.
  • Refining our lightweight backpacking techniques so our packs stay under 30 lbs

Departures and Prices


  • 1 - 3 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • two nights double occupancy lodging and four nights primitive camping
  • 2 dinners at restaurants, all breakfasts (including on trail), all dinners on trail
  • group camping, cooking, and safety equipment

Not included: Transportation to/from Roanoke, VA, Trail lunches, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, personal expenses, activities not on the itinerary


This trip is rated 4 as it involves early mornings, strenuous hiking, carrying 30 pound packs, and significant elevation gain and loss - the difficulty of the hiking is often greater than the mileage indicates. You should be in very good physical condition and have wilderness backpacking experience. Keep in mind that hiking a trail such as the Appalachian Trail is, indeed, not flat and mileage can be quite deceiving. What may look like long mileage can go quite quickly if it is flatter and/or ridge walking while often shorter mileage takes more time because of the elevation gains and losses. Please note that a portion of this section includes a descent from Dragon's Tooth that will involve descending ladders and scrambling boulders. There is also a section along Tinker Cliffs where the trail is on an overhang and close to the edge. If you have height issues, please check with the office prior to registering. Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5

This trip is recommended for experienced backpackers. Our preference is that you have participated in the Introduction to Lightweight Backpacking offered each year by AGC in June or have equivalent lightweight backpacking experience. If this trip is the one that fits your schedule but you have never backpacked or if it has been a long time since you have backpacked, you will need to plan on arriving 1 day early, 8/11/2018, by 3 PM to participant in an instruction day and to have adequate time for preparation. The additional charge for this day will be $175 per person and will include a room at the trip hotel (based on double occupancy) and your AGC guide. If you have any questions, please contact the office.

We will stay the first and last night in a hotel near near the Roanoke Airport in Roanoke, VA. for ease of both arrival and departure. There are 2 single supplements available for these two night for an additional $170. In between there are five nights of camping. Most nights we stay in or near a shelter with varying amenities (e.g. fire pit, composting outhouses) depending on whether we are in designated wilderness or state park lands. All our camping sites have water nearby.

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.

Please note: This trip is recommended for experienced backpackers. Our preference is that you have participated in the Introduction to Lightweight Backpacking offered each year by AGC in June or have equivalent lightweight backpacking experience. If this trip is the one that fits your schedule but you have never backpacked or if it has been a long time since you have backpacked you will need to plan on arriving at the trip beginning 1 day early, 9/21/2019, by 3pm in order to have adequate time for preparation. The additional charge for this day will be $175 per person and will include a room at the trip hotel (based on double occupancy) and guide. Otherwise your first day is Sunday, when you will meet at 4 p.m. at our hotel in Roanoke, Va. If you are flying in, there is a shuttle from the airport and you should plan to arrive by 3:30 pm. We will start with introductions and a discussion of what to leave behind, and then go to dinner. We spend the rest of our evening getting ready for our wilderness backpacking adventure and, as is always a good idea at the beginning of a backpacking trip, get to bed early.
No easing into the trip for us! We begin our journey on the Appalachian Trail at Sinking Creek, VA and head north! A couple miles down the trail we'll see an amazing sight - the Keffer Oak - the largest oak tree on the AT in the south, over 18 feet around and over 300 years old: this magnificent tree has limbs as large as most tree trunks! We'll continur to the top of Bruisers Knob, pass Sarver Hollow Shelter and walk along the ridge with fabulous views, cross over the Eastern Contnental Divide and then head downhill to our shelter area for the night Niday Shelter. Elevation gain/loss: 1320/1429 Mileage: 9.9
This morning we begin with a deceptively mellow section. Then, just as we are wondering where the hills has gone, the trail gives way to what we are more used to - up! We will cross several streams, some on bridges and some on rocks, and climb up log steps. We will stop to visit the Audie Murphy Memorial, the site of the 1971 plane crash that killed the most decorated U.S. soldier of WWII. At 3080 feet, the scenic overlook behind the monument affords excellent views of Sinking Creek Mountain and upper Craig Creek Valley. We then begin our descent to our home for the night--Pickle Branch Shelter. The final descent into the shelter area will be much steeper than our previous descents and we will be quite happy to have our poles with us! The only disappointment for the day is not finding any pickles waiting for us, much less hamburgers to go with them. Elevation gain/loss: 1112/1351 Mileage: 10.1
Don't let the shorter mileage lull you into complacency - it's a tough day but also an amazing day! We begin by doing what we usually do in the Southern Appalachians--go up. This time we will climb steeply up a rock and often boulder-strewn path for approximately 2 miles to reach the summit of Cove Mountain, with a brief stop off at Hemlock Point at 2600 feet to catch our breath and take in the vista. A few feet off the trail we will find Dragon's Tooth, a spectacular monolith that is one of the most famous rock formations in the area and worth many pictures. Once there, you'll have a difficult time realizing you're in the mountains - the entire area is white sand and you could swear the sound of the ocean is just beyond the monolith! After enjoying the summit, we begin descending on the steep and boulder strewn path. Our descent will involve ladders and a bit of scrambling, pretty typical AT hiking! Along the way we'll pass other magnificent views such as Lost Spectacles Gap, Devils Seat, Viewpoint Rock and Rawies Rest. We eventually gain the valley floor, cross Va 624, and walk a short distance on the road to the Four Pines Hostel. There you’ll have the choice of camping on the grounds or sleeping inside on a cot in your sleeping bag. Plus – if you’re longing for a shower – it’s there and plenty of hot water! Elevation gain/loss: 1099/1210 Mileage: 6.9
Leaving the Four Pines Hostel we'll say goodbye to the chickens and ducks and make our way back to our beloved up and down trail. Entering the woods will by now feel quite familiar and we'll continue hiking north. Our path today takes us over several streams and up and down a series of truely rolling terrain. Considering the milder terrain, our legs will think it's a rest day! Our destination tonight will be at the foot of Catawba Mountain where we'll enjoy the iconic McAfee's Knob. elevation gain/loss: 393/275 Mileage: 7.9
The morning brings excitement - McAfee's Knob is close by! A series of switchbacks takes us thru the boulder strewn path up to the top of Catawba Mountain and there it is--one of the most photographed spots on the AT - McAfee's Knob. An amazing 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside and just begging for lots of pictures! After spending some time taking in this magnificent spot, we'll descend from McAfee Knob passing such places as the Pig Farm Campsite, where there are no pigs, and Snack Bar Rock, where unfortunately there isn't a snack bar. Another vista awaits at Rock Haven just prior to passing by Campbell Shelter. From here we will be treated to level to slightly descending terrain for about 3.5 miles before it turns sharply uphill (of course!), this time headed to Tinker Cliffs. Tinker is a common name here (there is a Tinker Mountain and Creek, as well as Cliffs) and it comes from the legend that a number of Revolutionary War deserters hid out here and made pots and pans, and hence were named "tinkers". We will follow this rock wall for a half mile north with vista after vista after vista. After leaving the rock cliffs we encounter The Well, a natural rock hole, Lunch Box rock (of course there is no lunch), and Scorched Earth Gap. Our last night on the trail will be spent at the Lambert Meadow Shelter - a beautiful stream with many really nice campsites as well as a lovely shelter and outhouse! Hopefully we can stay awake long enough for a campfire and share some memories of the week. Elevation gain/loss: 2894/1703 Mileage: 8.4
It's always bittersweet to leave our last campsite and begin our walk out of the woods. Luckily, we'll still get plenty of time to enjoy the solitude of the woods and a few more great vistas before we encounter civilization in Daleville, Va. where our shuttle awaits to transport us to our hotel. Elevation gain/loss: 200/875 Mileage: 9.4
0 miles? What will our bodies think?!). After meeting for one last time at our hotel for a continental breakfast we will say our last good-byes and those of you driving are free to leave. If you are flying out, the hotel has an airport shuttle and you can plan to fly out anytime.

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

I love how AGC helps me accomplish and conquer things! The climbs were long but the payoffs were well worth the effort! Can't wait to go back next year!

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/22/2019-9/29/2019

Meeting new people and catching up with the guides and participants I'd hiked with previously.

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/22/2019-9/29/2019

It was SO hard. It was a bit concerning that there was so little water. The weather was very hot and humid. All of this beyond our control; which leads me to convey that....... I always felt safe, I always felt listened to, and I always felt that the guides we doing all that they could to keep the trip moving forward and with a positive spin. It was SO hard.

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/22/2019-9/29/2019


Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/22/2019-9/29/2019

Anna Clair! She was great. Also, seeing Jan who always makes a great meal and has great guiding skills!

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 10/15/2017-10/22/2017

Great guides-Jan and Anna Claire and wonderful like minded nature loving women. The AT never dissapoints!

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 10/15/2017-10/22/2017

I learned so many tricks to the fine art of camping - in such a supportive environment. All were much more experienced than me and had lots of good info on how to make camping life easier. Jan's insistence on 30 lbs or less kept us all on track and able to leap tall mountains with a minimum of stress. Anna Claire did a great job of leading us, keeping up a good pace and getting us where we needed to be. I had so much fun!!

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 10/15/2017-10/22/2017

Best guides ever!

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 10/15/2017-10/22/2017

Awesome guides! Of course the Bears Den Hostel! All the gals were great!

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/11/2016-9/18/2016

Particularly good group of women participants. Jan as always provided leadership, education, ingenuity in addressing situations. Karen was helpful, hard working, knowledgeable, fun to be with, complemented Jan well.

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/11/2016-9/18/2016

meeting women who shared similar interests learning skills necessary to backpack safely

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/11/2016-9/18/2016

New section of the at for me

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/11/2016-9/18/2016

Highlights of the trip include the positive interaction among the group and the pace of the hike. The trip was very relaxing and enjoyable.

Appalachian Trail Section Backpack 9/11/2016-9/18/2016

  1. I have not backpacked in years, is this the right trip for me?

    If it's been a long time, we strongly suggest you come to an optional day at the beginning (there is a small additional fee) so that you can learn about lightweight backpacking and some of the systems we use. You'll find it makes the week go more smoothly and you'll have more fun. If you've never backpacked before. we recommend you take our Introduction to Lightweight Backpacking first.
  2. Where do we eat?

    In town you will be eating in restaurants where you can order off the menu. You will be bringing your own food for lunches (we'll send you suggestions). Breakfasts and dinners will be cooked on a campstove- you'll be amazed at just how good backpacking food can be.
  3. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can easily accommodate vegetarians on this trip. Other types of dietary needs can be more difficult and cannot be accommodated unless you bring supplemental food. Please call us if you have specific dietary issues before you register.
  4. 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 guaranteed you have your own room at the hotels. Otherwise we'll pair you up with someone.
  5. Can I bring my own tent?

    If you have a single tent that you would like to bring, please let us know as not all campsites can accomodate unlimited numbers of tents. Your tent must weigh 2.5 pounds or less to qualify.