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 attempting an FKT on the AT through Shenandoah National Park starting Thursday, August 8. I will go south to north. Since it is a bit difficult to define the southern terminus of the AT in SNP, I will start at Rockfish Gap, and record "start" times at both Rockfish Gap and McCormack Gap (where the AT exits Bear Den Mountain). Northern terminus will be just north of the Compton Gap Trail at Chester Gap. This will be a supported attempt, as I will have crew meet me at several parking lots along Skyline Drive. I will try to record time and distance using my GPS (as long as battery lasts), as well as my watch.
Oops - wrong date - starting Thursday Aug 9 :)
How did it go? Thinking about doing this route soon. Been a goal of mine for at least 8 years.
Hello, I’ll be attempting to set a new supported FKT of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park starting early tomorrow morning (8.5.2019). I’ll be starting at the southern park entry kiosk near Rockfish Gap and completing my attempt at the northern entry kiosk, north of Compton Gap. This route is ~104 miles and is the most complete traverse of the park, on the AT, possible. I’ll be using my SPOT tracker (public link below) to track my progress as well as Strava for more data redundancy. (My SPOT tracker has not been super reliable in the past on the AT due to tree cover) It is set to transmit my location every 30 minutes. I’m super excited to spend the day running in such a beautiful area. I’m very grateful to have a crew to help with this effort (Thanks Sabine and Jim), which I have never had before on an FKT attempt. Also shout-out to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and SNP for keeping the trail so well maintained. Thanks to Matt Kirk and Sue Johnston for their inspiring efforts of this route in the past. I’ll update this list from the other side. ✌️
Update: I pulled the plug at around mile 70, a little before Skyland Resort. I had a great time during the attempt. It was a beautiful run, but it wasn’t my day. It was a great experience, and special thanks to Sabine and Jim for the support throughout the run.
Does anyone know if there is an unsupported FKT for the park? If so what is the time?
I, Ivey Smith, will be attempting a supported FKT of the A.T. through Shenandoah National Park tomorrow, 10/11/2019. I will start at Rockfish Gap in the early morning and, with any luck, finish at the northern entry just past Compton Gap. I will track my hike with Strava:
I will be attempting a supported FKT of the AT through SNP on Friday October 18th, 2019 at 6:00pm. I will be starting at the AT trailhead parking on 522 in Front Royal and finishing at Rockfish Gap at the map/kiosk/parking area on the AT immediately south of the I-64 bridge. This route is 107.8 miles. I have 3 goals for this attempt:
1) Establish a "standard route" from 522 in the north to Rockfish Gap in the south. Regarding Rockfish Gap in the south, the AT leaves and reenters the SNP boundary several times between Jarmans Gap and Rockfish Gap, leaving Rockfish Gap as an obvious choice for a "complete" route through SNP. The kiosk just south of the I-64 bridge is a natural start/end point. Regarding 522 in the north, the AT officially leaves the SNP boundary at Possom's Rest Overlook, at which there is no parking or nearby road, it is just a spot on the AT. Someone starting or finishing their route would have to hike to/from this spot from either 522 or from the Compton Gap trail, so why not carry on north from this point a few miles through AT conservation land to the 522 trailhead so all northbound and southbound attempts have a consistent start/end point.
2) Matt Kirk's time of 23:20 is from Jarmans Gap to 522, 99.1 miles. Although I intend to go further, I aim to beat Matt's time to Jarmans Gap before any claim of an FKT is made.
3) Establish a record for most miles covered on the AT in 24 hours. Matt's 99.1 miles is currently the record as far as anyone seems to know. Although Matt did those miles in one calendar day, starting at midnight, I am simply going for "most AT miles/24 consecutive hours" and the pundits can establish the merits and faults of each:)
I will be crewed by Michael Dubova, Michelle Andersen, and David Horton and will record the attempt on my Suunto 9 GPS watch as well as on my phone using Strava Beacon. I will post a Strava Beacon file on my personal FB page tomorrow at the start, https://www.facebook.com/JohnAndersenCrozetVA. Happy Trails everyone, so excited to spend a day in my favorite park on my favorite trail!
Go get it John!!
Congrats John! You just passed thru Jarmans on your way to Rockfish breaking my time by ~1.5 hour. You're on pace to go sub-24 for Rockfish. Solid! This has been fun to watch.
Finished! 23:48:59 from the 522 trailhead to Rockfish Gap. (I reached Jarmans Gap at 21:52:56). The mileage of 107.8 is from the PATC maps. I emailed them asking how they calculate their mileage and they said they have great cartographers who not only look at GPS info, but also wheel the routes in both directions.
This was a super tough route. Just relentless rocky single track with endless climbing, hard to get a groove. Really fun to plan though and a great route for crew! We had a perfect fall day, not sure it gets any better. Thanks to Matt Kirk for setting the bar.
I'll share a report later, but here is my Strava file: https://www.strava.com/activities/2803437217
First, congrats to John on his FKT, setting up the route start and finish points and answering my questions about his incredible day!
I'll be heading out running northbound from Rockfish Gap tomorrow, 10/25 starting about 5pm (depending on traffic). My brother will be crew chief through the night into Saturday with my wife and parents joining later on. I'm really excited to get on the trail and see the whole of Shenandoah as I spend most of my time in the northern sections. Also, our similar run times are completely coincidental! I had wanted to do this for a couple years but finally was able to squeeze it in between Teanaway 100 and Hellgate, just so happens that it's a week after Johns'.
Congrats to Dan Fogg on setting a new FKT today in 23:34 running northbound from Rockfish Gap. It was fun to watch and an impressive performance for sure!
Thanks, John! My finish time ended up being 23:24:09 according to my watch. Seems like my brother's tracker was pretty flaky, partly because it needed very clear view of the sky and it was sort of hidden in the back of my pack.
First off cheers to you both John and Dan, you both set the bar extremely high for your efforts, many many cheers for such accomplishments! I've been tempted with trying an unsupported traverse (although Skyline drive and its handful of AT crossings has quite the amenities I hear) and was wondering your guys experiences on this trail and if you might be willing to toss out any points of insight for a potential unsupported* that one can only gather via firsthand experience on such an awesome adventure. Thanks guys and awesome work out there. Cheers again
Hi agar, I have to admit, the prospect of an unsupported or self supported FKT through the park is very tempting! My advice first would be to get the PATC maps of the park ( https://www.patc.net/PATC/PATC_Trails/Hike/PATC_Maps.aspx Maps 9,10, and 11), so much great info there. As far as unsupported goes, the challenge will be finding water (in addition to carrying food for well over 24 hours...). Most of the AT there is "high and dry" - there is definitely water, but prob mostly springs, etc. Perhaps consulting with an AT-thru-hiker's reference book could be a good guide? But doing a "self supported" where you can stop by Skyland, Big Meadows, etc and refill - yeah, that'd be no problem, in addition to the springs, etc. Skyline Drive crosses the AT like 40 times through the park (that is definitely not accurate, but maybe?) btw. Good luck, I think planning is half the fun. -John