Sunday, May 5, 2013

Appalachian Trail - West Virginia

West Virginia holds the least amount of trail ~17mi, out of all 14 states through which the Appalachian Trail passes (~4mi is completely in West Virginia, and the remaining ~13mi are on the WV/VA border, though it is usually all designated as being in WV).

This is the shortest of runs which one can do on the Appalachian Trail while traversing and completing an entire state. The run starts at Snickers Gap at VA7 and heads north, with an official start at the trailhead sign-board. The run starts in VA because to get to the WV line one must first run 2.5mi. The border between WV and VA is clear, marked by a sign, giving distances to common destinations  for one heading northbound. The trail itself meanders along a ridgeline almost for its entirety, without any major sustained climbs. The largest gain or loss on the route is an ~800' descent in 1.2mi from Loudon Heights down to the Shenandoah River, which is at about ~18mi. The trail surface though is either very smooth, or absurdly rocky (as in Massanutten jagged, irregular, misshaped,  pointy, stumble type rocky).  At ~10.5mi at David Lesser Memorial Shelter there is a spring where one can refill their bottle, unfortunately it requires an additional ~0.6mi round-trip (including some vert). The official end is at the footbridge across the Potomac in Harper's Ferry, marking the border between WV and MD. The trail is just that, a trail, in the woods, with lots and lots of rocks, not much more, and nothing less. The main source of interest along this route is of course Harper's Ferry, with its thick roots in Civil War history. I also favor the ending in Harper's Ferry because it offers many choices for post-run gorging, no more than a few dozen feet from the parking lot at the tram station where one would have left a car to begin with, genius. 

For more detailed info on water, points of interest, etc make sure to check out the ATC's Guidebook or use this Online-Reference.

Route Totals

20.5mi (inluding side trip to spring at David Lesser Shelter)
3,700' Ascent, 4,400' Descent

Elevation profile produced in GoogleEarth.

Sign marking border between VA and WV.
One of the few smooth and rockless stretches.
One of few vistas, this one overlooking WV.
Some of the rockier stretches of trail.
Sign marking the side trail to David Lesser Shelter and the spring.