A huge thank you to Matt Madden for setting up the itinerary and making the reservations!
We'll drive from Nashville to just north of Front Royal. The trip should take about 10 1/2 hours plus any stops for dinner. We have to be at the Bears Den Hostel between 5pm and 9pm for check in.
We'll drive from the Hostel to the North Virginia 4-H Center just north of where the AT exits the park to drop of our vehicle and meet our shuttle.
The 4-H Center allows AT hikers to leave their vehicles in their parking provided they fill out a waiver which is provided on their website and hand it in to them. Their office opens at 8am.
It's about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from there to Rockfish Gap where we will start our hike.
Once we get to the southern Park Entrance Station we'll fill out our free permit and be on our way to the Calf Mountain Shelter a total of 7 miles from Rockfish Gap. Note: Calf Mountain Shelter is not actually within the Park even though we will have already gone though the Entrance Station.
"Shelters" inside the Park are called "Huts" and what they call "Shelters" actually are day use only Pavilions. There are no designated backcountry campsites in the park except as overflow near the Huts and Campgrounds.
Instead the park service has a policy of dispersed camping using Leave No Trace ethics.
> 13 miles from Calf Mountain Shelter to Blackrock Hut.
> 10.2 miles from Blackrock Hut to dispersed camp near Ivy Creek. We'll pass near the Loft Mountain Campground which has a camp store where we can resupply and a wayside where we can have dinner. Ivy creek is not quite 2 miles beyond that.
> 11.2 miles from Ivy Creek to Hightop Hut.
> 9.8 miles from Hightop Hut to Pocosin Cabin. The cabins have fireplaces on the frontporch and wood stoves and bunks on the inside.
> 14.3 miles from Pocosin Cabin to Rock Spring Cabin. This will be our longest day both in terms of mileage and things to do. About 4 miles before reaching the cabin, we'll pass though Big Meadows. There is a waterfall on a side trail nearby and the Lodge there has a nice Restaurant.
> 11.1 miles from Rock Spring Cabin to Byrds Nest Hut #3. Four miles or so into this day we'll pass by Skyland Lodge with yet another fine dining opportunity.
> 13.4 0r so miles from Byrds Nest Hut #3 to Matthews Arm. We'll pass near Elkwallow Wayside along the way where we can eat yet again. There is supposed to be a limited selection of groceries here also.
> 10 miles from Matthews Arm Campground to dispersed camp near Compton Spring.
> 5 miles from Compton Spring to North Virginia 4-H Center.
Some of the campgrounds have laundry facilities and showers available. One of the biggest complaints from thru-hikers about the park is the cost of everything.
Below is a breakdown of the costs associated with the cabin rental, post hike shower and pre-hike accommodations at the Bears Den Hostel.
Hostel and Showers $18 each
Total for each $112
That also doesn't include gas money for the trip out and back and whatever is spent inside the park.
The above costs are for three people, so if others sign up the costs will change.