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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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Reviews For The Shawl Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
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.
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.
Date of Hike: Thursday, August 04, 2011
The fist part of the forest road is a little overgrown but once it enters the woods the brush dies down, the rest the trail has seen some wear from hikers this year. Not alot of views in the summer but would have some nice views once the leaves are gone.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 04, 2010
At least half the hike was an abandoned fire road with chest high brush - ruining any views on the hike up. The last bit along the ridgeline had subpar views as well. The most fantastic part of the hike was the millions of seed ticks that my friends and I got that gave us an awesome momento of the hike for almost three weeks afterward. At least the last mile walk along the paved country road allowed us time to pick some of the ticks off. This hike is really not worth your time. It is the worst hike I've done in the 15+ years I've been hiking the area.
Date of Hike: Sunday, September 06, 2009
I had a hard time finding the parking lot off of VA613. Be careful, as there is no sign, just a dirt road that leads up to the lot. I was scared I was driving on private property until I saw another car and the parking lot gate. The lot needs to be paved or covered in gravel because it was overgrown with high grass. This was a foreshadowing of the hike to come...
The hike up the Shawl Gap trail was fairly monotonous, since most of it was a fire road, which petered off to a trail. It looks like it was hardly traveled by foot and less by jeep. The grass was about a foot high outside of the wheel wells. If you're hiking in the summer, slather on the deet and do not wear shorts. It's a tick paradise.
The Tuscarora/Massanutten trail which follows the ridge was much more enjoyable, although still overgrown. Not unlike other GWNF hikes in the area, I've been finding that the trails need a bunch of maintenance and/or a couple hundred boots to stomp through the vegetation. The upper part of the ridge had a bunch of stone stairways and large boulders, which were fun to hike. The dense vegetation was slowly displaced by low scrub brush and conifers, which was much welcomed. It would be nice if the park rangers made a clearing to overlook the valley/VA613 below somewhere along the boulder strewn ridge. One would probably be able to see Skyline drive as well.
The Sherman Gap trail was equally as boring and overgrown as the Shawl Gap trail. Spider webs were also a nuisance. I must have walked face first into about 10 spider webs before I had enough. I hiked more slowly and whacked the webs down with my hiking poles. It was relieved once I finally reached the VA613 leg of the hike.
I might try this hike again in the Fall or Winter. There vegetation was out of control in the summer and didn't make for an enjoyable experience.