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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:
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5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,740 ft
George Washington National Forest
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From:

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:

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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: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 9, 2019
There was a downed tree about 50 feet from the road (Rt. 613) preventing me from using the parking area, so I parked about 20 feet away from Rt. 613 in a grassy area alongside the entrance. I arrived at sunrise and hiked in the reverse direction thinking there would be more traffic later in the morning. The road portion of the hike was OK -- the road is paved now, as noted in another review. The neighbors I saw waved and seemed friendly. A couple loose dogs were more bark than bite. This is one of the nicest ridges I've hiked. I did it before on the High Peak hike, also on this website, which approaches the ridge from the other side of the mountain. In addition to the ridge the Sherman Gap trail portion was OK. I did not care for the Shawl Gap trail. Too much vegetation overgrowth and erosion. Some grass stands were over my head -- I was glad to have my GPS as a check of my path, but there were usually tall trees alongside the wide trail to help guide me. The worst part of this growth was difficulty in seeing where I was placing my feet, putting them at an odd angle and slipping off a rock sometimes. It wasn't terrible, but I probably won't take the Shawl Gap trail again unless it gets significant maintenance.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Had a great time hiking this trail with my dog. We had the trail to ourselves other than the herd of deer we ran into headed back down from the ridge on the Shawl Gap trail (pink blazed) and the pair of large black rat snakes that were sunning themselves on the same section of trail. There are some blow-downs on the Shawl Gap trail mostly in the first 1/2 mile headed down from the ridge but easily bypassed (walked thru, not around.) Views from the top were nice East and West. Definitely can see the views are diminishing with foliage returning. Will definitely do again, most likely in reverse direction next time. Honestly I walked past the parking area and had to backtrack on the road ha! It was a beautiful evening and I got distracted enjoying the walk. Total hike time was 4 hours with backtracking.

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.

    View all 17 reviews for the Shawl Gap hike
February (photos provided by Patty)
 
Early March
Shawl Gap
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