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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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Garmin (GDB), GPS eXchange (GPX) (What's this?)
3D View of Route

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.

Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Shawl Gap hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Shawl Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Bobby Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 27, 2017
Great day to be hiking in the woods and there were no other cars in the parking area. GPS only had 8.2 miles and 1750 feet. The return road is  no longer a dirt road and, oh yeah, there are hills on it. Need to come back when the leaves are off the trees.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 18, 2017
I did this hike a few days ago with a group from Central Virginia Trailblazers (www.cvatrailblazers.org).  As recommended in the reviews, we hiked this in reverse direction.  This turned out to be a good decision, as there were patches of slick, wet snow on the ground on the uphill portion.  There are some nice views and a great campsite on the ridge trail.  We didn't see a soul on the entire hike, so this is a good one if you're looking for solitude.  And yes, the ticks are out already!

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 9, 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.

    View all 15 reviews for the Shawl Gap hike
February (photos provided by Patty)
Early March
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