Overview Hike Details Gear List Resources


A 3 day, 2 night trip through the Northernthirds of Shenandoah National Park.  Entrance at the trailhead on US-522, exit at Thornton Gap entrance on US-211. The first few miles were basically through peoples back yards.  After that the trail alternated between well kept & busy and empty and extremely rocky.  Hit the trailhead around 11:30am.  Arrived at the hut around 5pm.  Given the length of the day and the following plans it may have been better to moderate the day and start around the same time but call it early at the Tom Floyd hut, before entering the park.  This would have split day into two much more moderate hikes. FitBit data from Day 1 claims that the day was closer to 15 miles and the elevation change was more like 3300 feet though I don’t know that I trust it. Saw one black bear on day 1; it rambled on the trail for 20 minutes before wandering off.  I’m pretry sure it paralleled me off the trail as I passed for about 20 minutes. The second day, better groomed trail in general.  The morning was an excellent hike with mists.  Left the hut at 8:30 and arrived at Elkwallow (6-ish miles) by noon. Leaving Elkwallow, the intermittent rain turned into torrential storming.  The trail was nearly all uphill and as the rain continued it turned into an ankle deep creek for most of the afternoon.  About halfway through the afternoon, turned a corner and came within 20 feet of another black bear.  Surprised it and it took off running through the woods. Got to Pass Mountain about 6pm (7-ish miles from Elkwallow).  This day was, due to the rain and wading, absolutely brutal. Fitbit data fram Day 2 claims that the day was closer to 19 miles and the elevation change was more like 2300 feet. The third day, when I got to Thornton Gap, I called and got taken off trail.  Day 2’s afternoon resulted in quarter to 50c piece sized blood blisters on both feet. Draining on trail seemed less than ideal so finished early. On the short trip down to the trail head, saw 4 bear; two singles and one pair.  From Pass Mountain to Thornton Gap is all downhill.  Took the firewood down and it was a lovely trail. There are very few photos of the trip.  Due to the persistent drizzle & torrential rain, the phone stayed in a dry sack most of the trip.

Hike Details

Mileage and elevations are based on me poring over the map as best I can. A Google Map is here.

Date Start Distance Total El. Change End KH*
 7/3 US-522 13.2 2800 Gravel Spring Hut 16
 7/4 Gravel Spring Hut 13.3 2500 Pass Mountain Hut 15.8
 7/5 Pass Mountain Hut 1.2 400 Thornton Gap Entrance 1.6
  TOTALS 27.7 5700    


  • Pack: Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
  • Sleep: REI Zephyr +20 Sleeping Bag (sythetic) + Sea-to-Summit 20L Ultra-sil dry sack
  • Sleep: Thermarest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad
  • Shelter: REI Minimalist Bivy + tarp
  • Water: Platypus 4L Gravity Water Filter
  • Water: 3L Camelbak
  • Cooking: MSR Whisperlite International
  • Cooking: 20oz MSR Fuel Containers + fuel
  • Cooking: Snowpeak Trek 900
  • Cooking: MSR titan tea kettle
  • Cooking: Snowpeak Titanium Spork
  • Essentials: Black Diamond Storm headlamp
  • Essentials: Benchmade Griptillian
  • Essentials: map + compass
  • Essentials: Ursack S29.3
  • Clothes: Sunglasses
  • Clothes: Chaco’s
  • Rain: Marmot Minimalist rain jacket + REI brand stuff sack
  • Misc: Black Diamond Wiregate Caribbeaners x 2
  • Misc: 100 ft 550 Paracord