Hit several of the highlights of Shenandoah National Park ... in the dead of winter!
We'll meet up at the Vienna Metro station at 8am and drive out to Shenandoah, parking the cars at the trailhead for White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run. From there, we'll climb from the base of the Shenandoah to the summit of Hawksbill--the highest point in the park at about 4,050 ft. This is one of the steepest climbs in the park and one of the most rewarding. The waterfalls along Cedar Run are some of the prettiest (perhaps they'll be in ice) and the view from Hawksbill is one of the few 360 degree views in Virginia. From Hawksbill, we'll descend, grab the AT, and walk north to Stony Man, bag another peak, and then descend the Nicholson Hollow Trail to where it intersects with the Hot Short Mountain Trail. There, we'll camp for the night, awaking early to walk down to Nethers and do the pre-dawn ascent of Old Rag in time for sunrise. After a cup of coffee at the summit, we'll descend the far side, take a left on the fire road and reach the cars.
I'll need to figure out the exact mileage for this trip, but I'll guess that it's in the mid-20s, with most of the mileage coming on Saturday. While this isn't a ton of mileage, there is a lot of climbing. Cedar Run plus Old Rag will make for a respectable weekend.
It's also in the winter, with very short days. It could be quite cold, and there are no fires permitted in SNP. You should have good winter gear and be prepared for ice, as well as for walking in the dark. When we did Old Rag last winter, it was quite an icy climb, and the descent was even worse (I wished I had brought micro-spikes). We had the very popular summit entirely to ourselves.
You should consider this a challenging trip. We may have to adjust if the weather seems very bad.
Please sign up. I'll screen you if we've not hiked together before. I do that not to be a jerk but to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment. I'll limit the trip to ten backpackers.