Atkins to Front Royal

It’s been awhile! It takes a lot of dedication to keep up the blogging while in the trail. I never have enough service or battery to blog on the trail and there is always more to do in town than time to do it. I’m always surprised when I meet someone out on the trail who has read my blog and that is the best motivation to churn out another post. Thank you everyone who has been following me and encouraging me!

Atkins VA

The trail around the town of Atkins is beautiful and some of my favorite miles so far. I am never happier than when the trail is meandering through a meadow on a sunny day with mountains in the distance. I also saw my first rattle snake about 7 miles north of Atkins.


First rattle snake I’ve seen in the wild!

Before you get to town make sure to stop in at Partnership Shelter for a shower and pizza order. Just note the shower is cold unless it is the on season and there is a $30 minimum for pizza delivery.


Stopping in at Partnership Shelter

The best bit of advice I can offer for the town itself is to check out the food and hiker box at The Barn Restaurant and to avoid the Relax Inn at all costs! Between Atkins and Pearisburg I would recommend doing the easy 0.5 mi road walk to Trent’s Grocery for a burger and small resupply.


Trent’s. It ain’t pretty but it gets the job done for a tired and hungry hiker!

Pearisburg VA

I stayed at Wood’s Hole Hostel just outside Pearisburg and I have mixed feelings about the place. If I hadn’t just spent two months in the woods I would really enjoy relaxing at this hostel, taking part in the hostel chores, doing a yoga class and chowing down on the homemade meals. But as it was, all I wanted was a long hot shower and clean laundry. Unfortunatly because of the 20 plus other hikers who were there the same night, the spring ran dry and I had to wait until the next morning for a 5 minute shower and laundry. It’s definitely a mixed bag and depending on your priorities this may or may not be the place for you.


Wood’s Hole has undeniable charm.


Burritos for dinner at Wood’s Hole. I couldn’t even complain too much about how I don’t like Mexican food.

After Pearisburg make sure to take the zip seat across the creek to the Captain’s Place for unlimited free soda! Because of all the rain we have had I’ve heard some reports of the creek being too high to cross which is just tragic but Recon, B Hiker, Creature and I didn’t have a problem.


How cool is this!?


So much soda and did I mention WiFi and outlets? Recon and B Hiker can’t contain their excitement!

The rain started my first day out of Pearisburg and it has rained almost every day since. There isn’t much that can get my spirits down like being wet for days on end and having the sun come out just long enough to think I might dry out only to have it cloud over and rain somemore. By some miracle I had sunny weather for Virginia’s triple crown of views: Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs. Those that hit McAfee just a day and a half after me had sleet and snow!


Dragon’s Tooth


Look familiar? McAfee is the most photographed spot on the AT!


Drying out the feet on Tinker Cliffs. “Bartender set me up with the triple crown”

If you want to take a break between Dragon’s Tooth and the other two views,  check out Four Pines Hostel. I was a bit skeptical about this place since this hostel has a reputation for being a party place, but I enjoyed my stay here. If you want to get a good night’s sleep just head up to the barn and leave the garages for those who want to party. The hostel is donation based and there is a shuttle to the general store which also serves food.


The garage at Four Pines. I didn’t go anywhere near those couches.

Daleville to Waynesboro

More rain here. Rain rain rain. This is also the stretch where I started doing really big miles. I also slipped and fell in the creek right in front of Harpers Creek Shelter so I lost all my pictures from this stretch. (If you are getting a new phone before the trail get insurance! It has now paid for itself.) The highlights were the James River Footbridge (longest Footbridge on the AT) and camping at Hog Camp Gap. I’m the most sad about losing the Hog Camp pictures as that was the most stunning place I have found to camp on the trail. Picture a long narrow Meadow running up the side of a hill. A perfect tent spot at the base of the hill on the side of the Meadow with a fire ring and 3 big old trees. One of the trees has a rope swing hanging from a sturdy branch. It’s late afternoon, the clouds are just breaking up and the angle of the sun casts deep shadows. The water source is an East 0.3 miles to the most perfect crystal clear spring bubbling out of the lush earth. Sigh. I was feeling pretty down after all the rain and the drowning of my phone. Luckily my tramily came through to save the day and I pushed 27 miles from Harpers Creek Shelter to Rockfish Gap. We went into Waynesboro and ate at the Ming Garden AYCE and stayed at Stanimals 328 hostel bot were fantastic. Then I took 2 zeros in Waynesboro to spend some much needed time with my husband. He also brought Jetta along to see me and I’ve missed her so much! She got off in Atkins because she was chasing all the springtime creatures that had started to emerge. She was equally happy to see me and I’m sure she thought she was getting back on trail. I will get to working on an update on her time on trail and get it posted as soon as I have the time. 


After my much deserved time off trail I was able to get back on to tackle the SNP with a improved attitude and tackle it I did! I did another trail marathon and crushed the miles. I also saw countless deer and six bears.


The only bear I managed to photograph. Most of them ran before I had a chance and I didn’t want to stick around to take pictures of the mother with three Cubs.

I hadn’t had any trail magic since before Atkins so getting awesome trail magic on a cold and rainy day was a special surprise.


That fire though!


Wet and cold but trying to be cheerful. Gotta love tramily!


Finally found out where the blazes come from.


Aftermath of the forest fire


100 plus miles of SNP done in 6 days!

Wrapping it all up the trail is full of ups and downs and I’m just trying to hang on for the ride! I’m in Front Royal which is only three days from Harpers Ferry! I can’t wait to hit this huge trail milestone.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Matt Perrenod (Homeless'15) : May 21st

    Nice description of Hog Camp Gap. I was there on a sunny afternoon, and the tree swing was a remarkably peaceful experience. Good spring, too, but had hours left, so hiked on after a long break.

  • Kathleen : May 21st

    Great descriptive blog Sara!

  • Perry : May 23rd

    We ran into Michael Peeveler on the AT around Watuaga Lake yesterday. We talked some about you being on the trail. Congrats on all the miles!

  • Nancy Bannon : May 25th

    Love reading the blog, great descriptions, like I am there. Sorry you had to suffer through the rain, being wet for days can do a number on you. You should be proud of yourself for hanging in there. You are really moving!
    Thanks for taking the time to blog and take photos. Got our map up and we are tracking you, the evening conversation is Where is Sara today??
    Keep on, keepin on!
    Uncle Jim says congratulations so far! Hang in there!

    Lots of Love Nancy


What Do You Think?