Appalachian Trail for First Timers Backpacking
Appalachian Trail, VA
June 10-17, 2023
Co-Trip Leaders: Leslie Green and Barb Shanks
Type of Trip: Backpacking
Trip Cost/Deposit: $500/$250
Cancellation Date and full payment: March 10, 2023
Wilderness Level: 3/4
Trip Difficulty: Rugged – 2000 ft of elevation gain and 2000 ft of elevation loss per day. Up to 12 miles per day
Policy on Fitness Self-Assessment
Level 4: Denotes backpacking trips on established but rugged, unmaintained trail with multi-day backpacks (30-40 pounds). The hiking can be steep and sustained with long daily distances (up to 9 miles) and significant elevation change (up to 4000 feet). You should be comfortable running/biking/hiking for several hours without many breaks.
Level 5: Applies to backpacking trips on very rugged trails or off-trail with multi-day backpacks (35-45 pounds). Expect prolonged, rugged hiking with very strenuous, difficult sections. Terrain can be steep, loose, rocky and/or exposed. You must be able to exercise vigorously at home (extended runs, swims, bike rides, etc..) to join a hike with a Level 5 rating.
Group Size: 8/7 Maximum/Minimum
While considering your participation in CIWC trips, be aware that some trips will involve shared transportation, lodging, and other activities. Each participant is encouraged to evaluate your comfort level with such arrangements based on your health condition, vaccination status, and unknown COVID positivity rates at the time of the trip. Members are encouraged to review the COVID waiver as a part of this evaluation.
If you have ever wanted to hike a section of the iconic Appalachian Trail, but found it daunting to plan such an endeavor, this is your chance to get on the trail with two experienced AT hikers eager to share their enthusiasm for the trail with you. This six-day, 50+-mile hike in southern Virginia will give you a taste of everything the trail has to offer. In addition, we will take a day trip to the Grayson Highlands State Park in search of the wild ponies and spend a night in Damascus, VA – Trail Town USA. The trip is designed to give you quintessential AT experiences including:
- conquering challenging mountain terrain
- staying at two backcountry shelters and two hiker’s hostels;
- camping beside a tumbling mountain stream;
- scenic views reached via the “green tunnel;”
- flora and fauna of the summer season (maybe bears???);
- fording a stream – possibly knee deep;
- using AT navigation apps and resources so you learn how to anticipate what awaits you on the trail;
- interacting with some of the thru hikers that started their hike in Georgia; and
- comradery with your CIWC trail family as we take on the challenge of the AT together.
We will start the hike near Bland, VA, and hike southbound for 5 days for between 6 and 12** miles per day to reach Atkins, VA. We expect an overnight stay at the Quarter Way Hostel will be a highlight of the hike, as will our climb up to the Chestnut Knob Shelter – a former USFS warden’s cabin with a fire tower. We may even experience some trail magic – treats provided by generous locals who support hikers. Once we arrive at the end of our section hike, we’ll spend a day and night at the Grayson Highlands and explore their beauty. Then we will visit Damascus, where we’ll stay overnight at Lady Di’s hostel and enjoy her sumptuous breakfast before we start for home.
The trip price includes shared transportation, hotel accommodations at the beginning of the trip, two hostel stays with breakfasts included, camping at Grayson Highlands, shuttles, five trail breakfasts and three trail dinners. All other meals in route and dinners at the hostels will be additional. Hikers are also responsible to bring trail lunches and snacks for each day. You will be expected to meet the fitness requirements for the trip and to participate in training hikes, including at least one overnight backpacking trip to test your trail readiness.
*This trip is designed for strong hikers who are first-timers on the AT, but other novice AT hikers that want to build their skills and experience can also register.
** The final hiking day extends to 13+ miles, with the option of stopping at 11 miles if needed.
Questions may be submitted to email@example.com.
All trip participants must fill out and submit a CIWC Medical Form and Long Waiver Form.
Effective on all trips, there will be a $50 nonrefundable registration fee. This fee will be assessed to those who sign up for a trip, get on the roster and then later cancel. Even cancelling before the cancel date. Those who never make the active roster (i.e., those who stay on the waitlist) will NOT be charged the $50 cancellation fee.