Hiking Shenandoah National Park
by Bert & Jane Gildart (Falcon Guides)
© 2016 Bert & Jane Gildart/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
A nice loop hike, and really not to strenuous with 40lbs or so. Did about 8 miles the first day, and set up camp at a small clearing just as you enter the trail to Big Devils Stairs. Some folks like to leave their packs behind in this area and head down Big Devils Stairs trail in the evening or first thing in the morning, for a lightweight hike. If you do the Mt. Marshall loop in this direction then be sure to fill up on water at the Gravel Springs Shelter. You wont have another opportunity until you get to Mt. Marshall trail, which we did on the second day. Bluff trail and Mt. Marshall are pretty easy, but not many views, however very pretty in the fall with the red and gold canopy. Plenty of water along the Mt. Marshall trail. Day 2 starting from Big Devil stairs trail back to the parking lot, only took 3 hours with a 20 min stop for water.
We did option 7a for this hike. Just over 5 miles in and out. It was a great hike, with the trail coming out in a rocky crevice with sheer cliffs and a beautiful view (Big Devils Stairs). It had about 0.5 miles of good uphill climbing on the way back out. Perfect for a 2-3 hour day hike.
Well maintained trail with good variety of terrain. Many potential great views but few overlooks. Good hut at midpoint with established camping sites with bear poles and privy present and also good water source year-round. Would do again
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