Route: AT Roller Coaster: VA 7 - US 50 (VA)

Submitted by mikewardian on Mon, 02/01/2021 - 08:49am
Virginia, US
13.8 mi
Vertical Gain
4,250 ft

The Roller Coaster:

This section of the Appalachian Trail between US 50 (Ashby Gap) and VA 7 (Bears Den Rocks) is known as “The Roller Coaster,” as the AT climbs and descends many small ridges and hollows.

As shown here, the run is a point-to-point, starting at Ashby Gap (Route 50) and going north to Snickers Gap (Route 7). The run may also be run north-to-south or, for the more ambitious, as a tough 27 mile out-and-back with more than 7,500 feet of ascent.

Park at the trailhead on the north side of Route 50 in Ashby Gap and finish at a commuter lot on south side of Route 7 in Snickers Gap. An alternative starting location is at the trailhead on Liberty Hill Lane on the south side of Route 50.

It is a beautiful and tough route..very well known and respected and super cool.



One of my favorites.

For more fun, there is an extended version if you go north to the "entering the rollercoaster" sign.  10k ft in 34 miles for the full out and back.

I ran that self-supported in 2019 (  I don't think it can count as the FKT as I didn't follow the route exactly at the rt 7 commuter lot.

I ran this section heavily back in 2018... As Chris stated above, this isn't the full rollercoaster.  That extends north past Rt 7.  That said I ran this unsupported in 5:38:30, however I stayed completely on white road-to-road (which is more precise, and doesn't include going out to the commuter lot and shouldn't impact a north or south approach too much):

In theory folks should be starting at the highway down from Rt7, or double back and touch the road if on the Rt50 side from that lot.  Otherwise we're cutting off some of the AT ;)

I plan to attempt an out and back, unsupported FKT tomorrow, 10-Jul-2021. I plan to go 50-7-50. 

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I am hoping to attempt the out and back version of this run unsupported. I will start at Liberty Hill parking lot, turn around at the bears den commuters parking lot, and finishing back at Liberty Hill parking lot.


I will be starting at snickers gap trailhead off of route 7 and will make my way to us-50 via the AT where I will turn around at the road crossing and complete my run back at snickers gap. From others attempts it looks to be a 27 mile run for out and back. I will post my effort this afternoon.

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I am planning to go for this FKT today.  My plan is to start at the northern point and go for the one-way FKT at full effort.  When I get to the southern point I plan to attempt to recover and run back.  If I am fast enough on the way back I might be able to snag the two-way FKT also.