What we're about

*** Read our COVID-19 guidelines here: https://dculbackpacking.com/about/covid-19-guidelines/ . ***

DC UL Backpacking hosts an average of 80 backpacking events each year, specializing in high-mileage, lightweight backpacking trips throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Our membership structure helps backpackers gain or enhance their outdoor skills. In general, our trips are quite challenging but you’ll find a wealth of experienced backpackers who are eager to share advice. Visit our website (www.dculbackpacking.com) to learn more about our group and our membership and trip ranks, and to read our FAQs.

Our goal: To cultivate a community of independent outdoors men and women who want nothing more than to have a fulfilling backcountry experience–to wake early, to walk far, and to travel light.

Join us. We look forward to meeting you!

When applying to join our group, make sure to fill out our questionnaire fully. We also require that your profile photo is of yourself. If you have any questions prior to joining, please email organizer[at]dculbackpacking.com

Upcoming events (4+)

VMO: AT in New Jersey (78mi)

Needs a location

This segment is Delaware Water Gap to just past the NY/NJ border. Mt Peter, NY is going to be the northern trailhead. We might use the parking lot that's two miles into NJ for the southern trailhead since we stopped a previous hike there, but might provide an option for folks to get those remaining two miles. FYI, there are rocks on at least the southern half of this trail.

Currently, I'm planning on doing a commercial shuttle to take us from the southern trailhead to the northern. The camping along this segment has some restrictions on it, so I don't want to take a large group up there, especially over the three day weekend. I might be able to be talked into a key swap if there's a second leader who wants to do the same segment in the other direction.

Map: ATC has a map bundle that covers NY-NJ. It's Map 3/4 in the bundle. Since the AT is well blazed, I'll accept Guthook or the AT guidebook as sufficient alternatives.

Sunrise / Sunset: 7:01am / 6:33pm

Weather: https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=41.3009&lon=-74.7945#.YvmI8HXMIxM

AT trail updates: https://appalachiantrail.org/trail-updates/state/nj/

DCUL's COVID-19 policy: https://dculbackpacking.com/about/covid-19-guidelines/ For this trip, you should be vaccinated for COVID since we're going to be carpooling for the shuttle portion.

We're going to carpool to get up there. Expect to reimburse drivers / share in the shuttle cost. Looks to be 450mi round trip plus the shuttle and some tolls, so figure on $100-$200 for the transportation costs.

By RSVPing, you agree to DC UL's waiver liability terms: https://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/Liability_Waiver/

LM: Buchanan State Forest -- car camp + day hikes

Needs a location

Anyone interested in last minute, low hanging miles with faux camping? The southern unit of Buchanan State Forest is a quiet, lesser travelled, public lands spot along the PA-MD border, at the bottom of the Mid State Trail. It has a nice network of shorter trails that are spottily maintained. By linking up a bunch of trails, we’ll do two separate day hike loops (roughly 15 and 12 miles). Full disclosure – I’m squeezing in a last-minute trip with my dogs and significant other before one of them goes in for ACL surgery (I’ll let you guess which is the surgery contestant). So, if you’re not into car camping, dogs, potentially slogging through some unkempt trail sections, or camping beside a fire engine red campervan, this may not be for you. FYI, big mammal hunting season (bear, deer, etc) will not be an issue here at this time.

Itinerary – We’ll meet (ideally via carpool) at the camping site CV014 – Nester Lot [masked], [masked]) Friday evening (or Saturday morning if you fancy an early drive), which happens to be the start of Saturday’s day hike (15.3 miles, 2600’ gain). We’ll stay at the same site Saturday as well. Sunday morning, after breaking camp, we’ll head to another parking area on Beans Cove Rd for start of Sunday’s day hike (11.9 miles, 1400’ gain). I’ve rated this LM due to day hike style, but the distance and elevation, particularly on Saturday, will still be challenging – especially if the trails are not well maintained.

Maps -- Each attendee is required to have their own map hard copies. Caltopo will do. State forest maps are also available here. There are separate maps for Buchanan (large scale, see lower left inset), Martin Hill ATV Trail (Saturday’s hike), and Martin Hill Wild Area (Sunday’s hike).

Group size & applicants -- limited to 9; first-come, first-served. Because this an LM trip, I'll consider Applicants, you must be self sufficient in self extraction and/or navigating back to the camp site if it proves too strenuous. Applicants must tell me what hikes they’ve done in the last couple months (miles + elevation) by Oct 6, 9pm to be considered -- note you are not fully on-board until I have reviewed and ok'd your attendance.

Carpool -- Is encouraged. Camp site parking may be limited. Since I’ll be wrangling my own household herd, please coordinate amongst yourselves. Note, riders should be prepared to compensate drivers.

Dues -- Members and above, don't forget to pay your annual dues if you haven't yet. If you don't see the current year listed next to your name in your DC UL profile, please pay via PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/DCULKaran/15 ($10 annual dues plus a $5 suggested donation to City Kids Wilderness Project.) Applicants do not need to pay dues.

By RSVPing to this trip or any other DC UL trip, you agree to DC UL's waiver liability terms (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/Liability_Waiver/).

MO: Womxn's* Trip - AT over Apple Orchard Mountain (43 miles/3 Days)

*We welcome cis and trans-identifying women as well as folks who identify as non-binary, etc.

On Saturday at 7am, we’ll meet at Vienna Metro and drive out to the AT near Glasgow, VA. There will likely be a Sheetz or other food shop as decided by individual cars. This will be a shuttle hike so when we arrive, we’ll set up the shuttle leaving at least one car at the 501 parking lot near the James River bridge [masked],[masked]) and starting at our beginning point Taylor’s Mountain Overlook [masked],[masked]). We’ll hike towards Cove Mountain Shelter as our campsite for the night. Perhaps, we will catch a great sunset over nearby Buchanan Rock! As a heads up, the shelter is dry. We will stop for water 3.5 miles from camp. Depending on recent rains, there will be water 2-6 miles down the trail the next morning. Day 1 is 10.6 miles.

Sunday morning we’ll continue north on the AT. For those who wish to see Orchard Mountain Falls there’s an optional 1.2 mile side trail that goes down to the viewing deck. We will climb Apple Orchard Mountain and camp at Thunder Hill Shelter. (There is water nearby at a spring 0.2 miles on trail before we reach camp). Day 2 is 17.2 miles (with the option of a few fun side excursions to the waterfall and overlooks which will bring it closer to 20).

On Monday, we’ll continue north along the AT. We'll descend all the way down until we cross over the James River Bridge and arrive at the trailhead parking. Day 3 is 14.7 miles. Then, we’ll stop for celebratory food on the way back to DC.

Total mileage is 42.5 miles over 3 days. Splits are 10.6/17.2/14.7 with a few options for fun side excursions. We'll need drivers. Both parking lots are paved! Total roundtrip distance is about 450 miles from DC so plan to pay carpool drivers about $45 per the DCUL reimbursement policy.

Maps: NatGeo Appalachian Trail: Bailey Gap to Calf Mountain [Virginia]
AT Central Virginia:
As this trip is entirely on the AT, you can also download the FarOut app and use the Northern VA AT map.

DCUL's COVID-19 policy: https://dculbackpacking.com/about/covid-19-guidelines/
By RSVPing to this trip or any other DC UL trip, you agree to DC UL's waiver and liability terms: http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/Liability_Waiver/

IO: Four State Challenge: The 2022 Version (aka, 50+ or 44 miles of delight!)

It will be time soon for our annual Four State Challenge--a DC UL Right of Passage that typically tests your mettle over 44 glorious miles. But, its going to be extra special this year. You see, we had 90%+ folks finish last year. That's a sign to me that we gotta kick this up a notch. So, this year, I am planning two versions: 1) The normal 44 version - definitely not to be underestimated; 2) A 50+ mile version that will add miles south of the WV/VA border and will finish at Pen Mar! I am going to start thinking about a new sign to celebrate (or have PTSD about?) 50 miles if we finish!

Join us if you want to undertake this challenge - or if you want to do trail magic and enjoy watching the challengers suffer :) Trail Angels - We would love to have you support us!

How the normal version works:
● Start in Harper's Ferry on Friday, and hike up to Loudon Heights (maybe 4ish miles). Set up camp near the Virginia/West Virginia border. Note: PATC is working on a trail reroute in this section, so we will keep track of that in case that affects us.
● Wake up when you want (traditionally we do a 3am start, but that's up to you). Walk north on the AT, cross into Maryland, and keep going until you hit Pennsylvania. Regroup with your fellow backpackers at Pen Mar for a pizza celebration, and camp at a spot about one mile past the park.
● Enjoy a victory breakfast on Sunday. Receive your (@) symbol for walking a 40 mile day.

Before saying “Yes, I’m in!” there are a few caveats and challenges to note.
● If you haven't been doing regular 20+ mile days recently, consider your ability to do this mileage. Like any other event, training will go a long way to make sure you can do this safely and successfully. We do this every year--better to wait and prepare for next year’s event, than to rush in and injure yourself.
● This is a LONG day. 16 hours is a solid time. 20 hours isn't uncommon.
● There is no shame whatsoever in bailing. Even making it to I-70 is a big day. Better to end early than to finish with an injury.
● Water is not plentiful along this route. Maintaining good hydration and nutrition is paramount.
● It is the AT, but navigation can be a challenge in the dark. Be confident in your ability to follow a trail. There’s a chance you could hike all day without seeing another DCUL'er so be mentally ready to go the whole 44 solo if needed.
● This is a backpacking challenge. You must sleep out Friday and Saturday night, and carry all your gear to be self-sufficient just like any other DCUL backpacking weekend.

The logistics are also...complex. Traditionally we have emergency bail-out vehicles stationed at I-70 (27mi) and Wolfsville Road (34ish mi). You must check-in at those points to be listed on the DCUL Hall of Fame (https://dculbackpacking.wordpress.com/hall-of-fame/ ) for a successful completion--we do this as a safety precaution so we know where you’ve been and at what time.

We will need quite a few people who are willing to drive to help us set-up the shuttle and all those bailout wagons.
Water source info (courtesy of EZBake): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-Fc4mY9ncjrivaDqVd1zRyq7ds8wa39wl6Lulqg849k/edit?usp=sharing

By RSVPing for this trip, you acknowledge that you’ve read our COVID-19 guidelines and that you agree to DC UL's liability waiver terms. (https://dculbackpacking.com/about/liability-waiver)
Please note the COVID-19 club policies:

For more on DC UL’s COVID-19 policy, click this link: https://dculbackpacking.com/about/covid-19-guidelines/


Past events (972)

LM: AT in Shenandoah, Northern District (~28 miles)

Needs a location

Photos (36,628)