John Andersen provided an updated route description:
With the northern terminus at the AT trailhead on Rt 522 in Front Royal, Virginia, and the southern terminus at the Information Kiosk at Rockfish Gap, immediately south and adjacent to the I-64 overpass on the AT, the Appalachian Trail travels 107.8 miles over the rugged ridgeline of Shenandoah National Park. The route has approximately 24,000’ of elevation gain if traveling southbound, and approx 23,000’ of gain if traveling northbound (Rockfish Gap is 1000’ higher elevation than Rt 522). The terrain is constantly rugged with endless rocky climbs and descents, however this is balanced by a plethora of crewing options as the AT crosses and nears Skyline drive countless times along the route. With a challenging terrain and distance, endless views from the Blue Ridge skyline, and crew-friendly accessibility in Shenandoah National Park, this is a gem of an FKT route on the east coast.
The best resource for the AT through SNP are the maps created by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. The PATC maps are extremely detailed and include an elevation profile with Skyline Drive crossings and other points of interest. Maps can be purchased through the PATC at www.patc.net. Relevant maps are Map 9 (North District), Map 10 (Central District), and Map 11 (South District).
Early runs were between Rockfish Gap and Compton Gap, a shorter distance of around 96 miles. Matt Kirk ran this in 23h20m, but his trip report appears to no longer be on a public website. Sue Johnston also ran this route in April 2012, as reported on her blog http://runsuerun.blogspot.com/2012/04/at-thru-shenandoah-national-park-in-one.html?m=0 but she did not report at time.
On August 9/10, 2018, Kathleen Cusick ran from Rockfish Gap to “Possoms Rest”, the actual northern boundary of the park in 29 hours, 12 minutes, for a total mileage of 104.2, just 3.6 miles shy of Rt 522 in Front Royal, where the standard route now starts/ends.
I will be heading out for a northbound supported FKT attempt starting Saturday 10/3 (starting sometime that morning) from Rockfish Gap to Rt. 522. I will have a crew consisting of my gf & a buddy, who will both squeeze in some quality trail time with me. Excited to see the sections south of Hawksbill, as I have never been through that. I'm comfortable enough with Beahms Gap through the end, so I'm sticking that in early Sunday AM. Traditional ultra time-frame!
Excited to get some redemption at the 100 mile distance. An ankle injury took me out early of both of mine last year, and both Cruel Jewel and Grindstone were 2020 victims.
I saw you're going for a supported nobo FKT attempt on 10/3. I was planning on doing mine starting tomorrow 9/25, but I got rained out, so I'm pushing my attempt to next weekend 10/3 as well. Out of respect for your run and attempt, I just wanted to let you know that and would be happy to coordinate if you have any concerns.
Good luck and have a great run!
I'll be attempting a supported FKT on this route starting Saturday, September 19th around midnight at 522 and heading southbound, hoping to make it to Rockfish gap before 11:24 PM. I'm excited to put together the whole route and spend a big day in the mountains with friends.
I'm planning to carry my Garmin inReach to track my progress: https://share.garmin.com/mattcymanski
It's been great to see this route evolve over the past couple years, starting with John and Dan and some great performances by Witt and Anne this year.
I had a great day on the trails with a great crew and beautiful weather, and was able to set the supported FKT by a few minutes at 23:14:23 https://www.strava.com/activities/4086996349
I can't wait to see what Will, Ryan and anyone else doing this route can do in the next few weeks. It's FKT season in Shenandoah!
Huge congrats, Matt!! It'll be a fun fall and cool to see what happens during the 2020 FKT extravaganza!
Wow, congrats Matt, nice work and great time and mostly I bet that was an amazing weekend with friends, killer weather! Nice work, and good luck Will - FKT season for sure!!
On Monday Sep 21 at 4pm I will attempt a supported FKT going northbound from Rockfish to 522. Live tracking will be available at: http://live.enabledtracking.com/ShenAT2020/.
It's so cool to see this route heating up. Matt and Ryan, good luck to you both!
Quick update that I strained my MCL and pulled the plug at mile 48. It was a great adventure and a huge thanks to my crew. Now I've scouted the southern section, and I can't wait to come back for another go!
Excited to jump into the action! I was originally planning on a supported nobo attempt starting tomorrow Friday Sept. 25, but I've been tracking the weather and have decided to push the attempt back a week. So I'll be going for a supported nobo attempt starting at Rockfish Gap on Saturday Oct. 3 and ending at US 522. My plan will be to start around 3 a.m. I know, Ryan, you announced your attempt for this date as well, so out of respect for you and your run, I'd be happy to connect and coordinate if there are any concerns. I'll be tracking the attempt with a garmin inreach mini, and I'll provide that link in the comments of this post this coming week sometime.
All good bud. No concerns here. Best of luck!