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Shenandoah Mountain - Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness Area

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

2 Days - Day One - 7 hours, Day Two – 3.5 hours
2,811 ft with multiple ascents
George Washington National Forest
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Right into Mountain House Picnic Area cross concrete spillway, Park on right 100 yards up service road. 38.30804, -79.36119

Shenandoah Mountain, sounds like it should be in Shenandoah National Park (SNP). It is in fact, the sister hike to Ramsey's Draft. It shares the same Draft route but it will take the Shenandoah Mountain Trail to the west as the return route. Friends of Shenandoah Mtn is proposing Shenandoah Mtn as a National Scenic Area with four new Wilderness Areas.

Much of the area we hiked has never been timbered, so many of the trees were huge! You will ford Ramsey's Draft 20+ times and also go through stands of Hemlocks, which have been decimated in SNP. What a great hike but do it as 2 day backpack to really enjoy it.

Also see the Jerry's Run hike for an abbreviated version of this circuit.

Since there are so many crossings of Ramsey's Draft we will not describe them all, but when you get to a crossing scan the other side for the trail and sometimes there will be a well placed rock cairn marking it. Be aware, the Draft can be deep and flowing after heavy rains, so be careful when crossing and do not cross if it is too dangerous. You can always hike it another day. Be prepared to use river shoes or crocs on many of the crossings, others you may be able to "rock hop" or use a well placed downed tree. Switching out shoes will slow you down, you won't set any records on Day 1. This is a wilderness area and as such the trails are not blazed except for the Road Hollow Trail at the end which is Yellow-blazed.

DAY 1 – 9.5 Miles

  • Mile 0.0 – The hike begins at the end of the parking lot just beyond the Information Kiosk. Very quickly you will by-pass the Bridge Hollow Trail on the right and then the Road Hollow Trail on your left, which will be part of your return route. Stay straight and on the left side of the Draft for 0.7 miles, this is the Ramsey's Draft Trail.
  • Mile 0.7 – The first of many crossings and the only one mentioned, keep your eyes peeled for it on the right as we originally missed it.
  • Mile 2.8Jerry's Run, cross it and then quickly pass Jerry's Run Trail on the left, stay straight on the Ramsey's Draft Trail, more crossings.
  • Mile 5.2US Geological Survey Marker on the left, says 2914', easy to miss. The elevation gain has been gradual to this point. The climb from this point becomes steeper with quite a few blowdowns prior to the intersection at Hiner Spring. As you approach the intersection, the trail is faint at best, keep heading up with the creek mostly on your left and you will be fine.
  • Mile 7.3 – Intersection with Bald Ridge Trail, trail sign was on the ground, continue up the Ramsey's Draft Trail and over the next 0.1 to 0.2 miles there will plenty of great campsites and places to fill up with water. This would be a good place to call it a day and camp for the night. You could then do a side trip to Hardscrabble Knob for one of the few good views on this hike. We pressed on for 2 more miles as it was to rain the next morning.
  • Mile 7.7 – Intersection with Hardscrabble Knob Trail. Bear left and reach Hardscrabble Knob in 0.5 miles.
  • Mile 8.2 – Hardscrabble Knob, abandoned shack, and downed fire tower. You could camp here but no known water source, so fill up at Hiner Spring area prior to making that decision. Fairly decent view from top of Knob: Shenandoah Mtn to the Southwest, Big Bald Knob to the Southeast, Gordons Peak to the South and The Pinnacle to the South.
  • Mile 8.7 – Return to intersection and bear left onto Ramsey's Draft Trail.
  • Mile 9.5 – Reach Shenandoah Mtn Trail and bear left. Just off to your left is a great campsite with fire pit. Site is easily big enough for 10-12 tents with a Spring. This is where we camped for the night.
    Note: The Spring is located across the trail from the campsite, look for tree with "SHENANDOAH MTN" sign, bear right 90 degrees, go down about 15-20 yards, quite steep. We cleaned out the leaves from an 8” deep pool of water and 20 minutes later the water was very clear and cold. Spring coordinates: N38 22.868 W79 19.600.

DAY 2 – 8.7 Miles

We had a quick breakfast and packed up in light rain. The rain picked up as we hiked out, so we were highly motivated and made good time, 3.5 hours. If it is nice, take your time and enjoy the woods. There are some views through the trees but over all a nice walk on the ridge through some small stands of Hemlocks.

  • Mile 9.5 – Bear left onto the Shenandoah Mtn Trail after breaking camp
  • Mile 10.2 – Sinclair Hollow Trail on right, stay straight.
  • Mile 14.5 – Jerry's Run Trail on left, stay straight.
  • Mile 15.6 – Bear left onto Road Hollow Trail. You will really start to lose some elevation now.
  • Mile 18.1 – Reach Ramsey's Draft Trail, bear right towards Parking Lot.
  • Mile 18.2 – Parking Lot
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Hiker Reviews For The Shenandoah Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Chris N Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 28, 2017
We hiked up the Shenandoah Mountain trail and down the Ramsey's Draft trail.  The Road Hollow Trail and Shenandoah Trail were real nice and well maintained except for a few missing signs.  We only saw a couple of other people.  Due to the missing signs, bring a good map or a GPS.  We camped at Hiner Springs.  On the second morning we took the wrong trail and I think we were on the Bald Ridge Trail.  I had done this hike 10 years earlier and had an idea where the trail was but didn't see much that looked like a trail.  Fortunately about a 1/2 mile down Bald Ridge we ran into a hiker going the other way who set us straight.  To find the trail you need to follow the draft down about 100-200 yards from Hiner springs where it will become apparent.  After that we could find the trail, but there were lots of downed trees. This would have been a real sufferfest, had we done the loop going up the draft and down the Shenandoah Trail.  The other  lesson learned was that over the last three miles there was lots of poison ivy.  Since the water was up, I wore shorts for walking across the many crossings.  I'm hoping the water washed off the PI.  I guess I'll know in a few days.  Overall it was a great hike for solitude and beautiful scenery.

By: hikingmaster Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 20, 2017
Overall Great hike, but the description is in need of some tune-up. Many of the signs that they mentioned are no longer in existence. Mainly, when you arrive at the section after Hiner Springs, and there is the bridge-hallow trail to the right, we could not find any sign. The trail vanishes at you walk through the numerous campsites, but luckily we had a solid map. Ton's of blow-downs, to the point that it wasn't hiking, but scrambling. As for the camp site, it's an ok site, nothing great. I understand the need for a water source, but I'd suggest Jerrys run. Phenomenal site next to a running creek. Open area with fire pits. My suggestion is to hike to the spot at jerrys, set up camp, than run up to the knob for the view, and return to the camp to relax.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 25, 2016
Just wanted to give a heads up, prior to the intersection at Hiner Spring there are a lot of down trees stretching back about a mile or so pretty tough through there. might want to add a little time through there. Pretty good hike for the most part. The creek it pretty low but a good source of water for the first half of the hike. After the spring at mile 9.5 there isn't another water source that I saw.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 19, 2016
Hiked Shenandoah Mountain with a group of friends this previous weekend, overall I enjoyed it and it was a great experience. I have hiked this previously twice and try to return every couple years. On Friday we camped out at the second campsite down Ramsey's Draft, the temp was somewhat low & paired with the moisture in the air made Saturday morning rough. We found that the water was low in most spots which made hiking through Ramsey's Draft relatively easily since it is mostly flat. I would like to note that there several large downed trees through out this portion of the trail which slowed the pace of the hike substantially. The last mile of the hike up the draft is nearly all uphill and this is where a majority of the downed trees were found, so if you are bringing your canine companion with you be ready to lift them over trees portions of this hike. We reached Hiner Springs early and decided to hike to the next spring, past Hardscrabble Knob, at the end of Ramsey's Draft Trail(Where Tearjacket Trail links up). This is also your last opportunity to refill your water from a spring(still treat or filter it, don't take a chance). This was a great decision considering the fog bank that rolled in over night/morning. I set my tent amongst some evergreens and this blocked a majority of the moisture and wind. After we made camp I backtracked to Hardscrabble Knob, the view isn't as good as it was a few years ago. Most of the trees are getting a little high for a clear view of the surrounding area. But it is still cool nonetheless, especially the downed fire tower. The final morning of our hike was cool, due to the fog bank, and made the last half of the hike easy for the most part. It is mostly flat, but there are portions of uphill, and down hill. The last leg of Road Hollow Trail will bring the highway and eventually the parking lot in view, resist the urge to go off trail. I love this hike, I will still come back to this hike every couple years. I just hope to see some of the trees taken care of the next time I return.

By: Pohick Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 05, 2015
I took this as a reunion hike with four scouts from our Philmont trip last summer. We had a good time. We went the opposite way described here, going north on Shenandoah Mountain trail, and south down Ramsey's draft. Only saw a few people, even on Labor day weekend, though a number of people were camping at Hiner Spring. The trail was a little overgrown in parts, and I recommend long pants, especially on the lower half of Ramsey's Draft trail. There were a number of blow downs to scramble over. Hiner Spring was basically dry, but you can get water from the head of the draft, just below where the Hiner trail branches off. There are nice campsites at the spring, but a better one (where we camped) just a couple of hundred yards west of there along the trail. The real disappointment on this trip was the view from Hardscrabble Knob, which was mostly obscured. There are cool remains of a cabin and fire tower (and a nice, waterless campsite) there, though. The draft itself was low, which made the multiple crossings no problem.

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Late April

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