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Shawl Gap - Front Royal, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,740 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Parking area just up hill on right (yellow blazed just past 608). 38.89485, -78.30437

There are two great sections on the Shawl Gap loop, the first uphill portion on the yellow blazed Shawl Gap Trail and the ever beautiful ridge walk along the Tuscarora/ Massanutten Trail. The downhill Sherman Gap Trail can obstructed with blow downs and is not as heavily used.

The only real downside to the loop is the final 1.2 mile walk along VA613 back to the parking area. There isn't much traffic as it is basically a single lane dirt road but you do have to keep alert.

Start by passing the gate and gradually climbing uphill on the yellow blazed Shawl Gap Trail as it begins its assent. After 1.2 miles arrive at a large animal habitat clearing that gives great views of the mountain and Shenandoah Valley. Continue and in another 1.2 miles arrive at the intersection where Shawl Gap Trail turns left uphill (turning right leads down to VA613).

Turn left uphill still on the yellow blazed Shawl Gap Trail for another 0.5 miles until reaching the crest of the ridge and the four way intersection of the Tuscarora/Massanutten Trail.

Turn left on the now blue/orange blazed Tuscarora/Massanutten trail as it ascends and follows the ridge line. There are several great views along both sides of the ridge with one in particular just after you pass High Peak.

In 1.9 miles since turning left on the ridge you will reach pink blazed Sherman Gap Trail as it descends to your right. Continue straight on the ridge for an other 0.4 miles where you will reach the Sherman Gap Trail's descent to the left.

Turn left downhill on the pink blazed Sherman Gap Trail as it winds down a small valley for 2.5 miles before reaching VA613. You will pass close to private property on your left just before you reaching US613 so make sure to remain on the trail.

Sherman Trail ends at US613 (there is no parking there) Turn left walking along US613 for 1.2 mile as it winds back to the parking lot which will be located on your left.

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Hiker Reviews For The Shawl Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Shawl Gap hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Suzy & Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 17, 2016
Would give the hike 4 stars if it weren't for the 1.2 miles of road walking (all uphill) if you do the hike as described above.  Next time would reverse the direction and get the road part over with first.  The parking area was hard to find -it is on the right just before T-bird Drive which comes in from the left.The pink-blazed Sherman Gap trail was well maintained and blazed.  Blow downs have been cleared.  The walk along the Tuscarora/Massanutten Trail was very pretty especially with the light snow that was falling.  Our GPS programs measured the loop as 8.3 miles and our total moving time was 3 hrs 40 minutes.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 23, 2014
This was overall a nice hike, but would definitely not be a great one in the summertime. The first part of the hike is covered in very tall grass (some parts over 5ft.) and I could imagine this would be filled with ticks. Also, the views would be very limited. However, this time of year it was pretty and I only ran into two other hikers. A few things. 1) The parking area turn off is on the right before T-Bird Drive - if you get to T-Bird Drive, you've gone too far. 2) While I don't mind some road walking, this a long portion at the end - be careful, as several cars were speeding 3) I kept thinking that I had passed the Sherman Gap / pink blazed trail as it seems like I was on the ridge longer than 1.9 miles, but the first intersection will be just past a nice fire pit / campground (which will be on your left) - the second intersection felt a little closer than 0.4 miles from the first. Lastly, if you're out hiking this time of year during hunting season, please remember to wear orange, even on Sundays.

By: Walter Edwards Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 09, 2014
As stated, the first couple of miles are overgrown - is you go, wear pants - my son and I both ended up with our legs covered in bites. The views were subpar. I woudn't waste my time on this hike, at least in the summer.

By: The Rileys Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 16, 2012
First and most important is that mapquest tells you the trail/parking is on the left-wrong! Keep eyes open for car path and gate. Sherman Gap portion of trail is currently closed due to wildfire hazard so we continued on toward Buzzard Rock and saw beautifil vista w/a great stone bench someone had made around a firepit. First part of hike had some high weeds but it's not the AT. Overall a good hike for a pleasant Sunday.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 03, 2011
Great hike for a chilly December day. Started before 11am. Hike up was nice as you ascend up, not steep.  Ran into some hunters, talked with them for alittle bit, some good tips, especially for wearing orange during deer season and keep an eye out for black bears. Made it to the top, from there you can hike to buzzard rock or a few other local trails.  Walked along the ridge, some good rocks jetting out for lunch.  On the way back you reach another intersection and descend back down.  Great view  (no leaves on the trees) you can see the ridge lines and how far you've traveled (you can see the river and airport on some parts).  Not too many critters, did have a encounter with a ticked off buzzard.  By the time you get to the bottom you are tired.  You do have to walk on the road about a mile and a half back to the parking area.  Alot of no trespassing/private property signs.  Passing by the little ranch with Australian shepherd pups and adults was nice. Finished up after 4 pm.   Going up has unique look that differs from going down.  There is a short part that you need to be mindful as there is a drop on the side and alittle narrow, but not too bad.    Overall, a nice trip.  Make sure to wear good supportive hiking boots and watch your step.  Definitely coming up here again sometime. 

    View all 13 reviews for the Shawl Gap hike
February (photos provided by Patty)
Early March
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