Mile 3.3 - The shelter has room for 7 people, and also includes a privy, spring, shower, and several tent camp sites. The shelter is named for Jim and Molly Denton who were active PATC members from 1960-1991. This is the turn around point. Follow the AT back to the north and VA55.
Good hike for a half day trip. Strenuous, but not too bad or treacherous with breaks in the hills. Even on the hottest day of the year there was enough shade to make it bearable. Would re-name it the Butterfly Trail-saw lots and lots of butterflies (monarchs too!). Lots of solitude-maybe bring a friend or go with a group. Trail very well marked with a good shelter at the turn around point.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 18, 2018
I started this hike at 7:30AM and was the first vehicle in the lot. Despite the cold and icy conditions due to snow compact, the lot had filled by 11AM when I left.
This hike is mostly switchbacks. The shelter is very modern with many accommodations. The privy was well stocked with hand sanitizer and a mailbox full of additional toilet paper.
Watch out for muddy or icy conditions in certain conditions here.
Date of Hike: Friday, November 2, 2018
Maybe a 3.5? A lot of good stuff for a short hike - the first climb is a little taxing, but nothing too steep. The rest is pretty easy - scenic meadows, pretty gentle on the last bit to the shelter.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 18, 2018
We hiked this as an overnight. When we arrived at the parking lot around noon it was full, and the parking lot across the street also had several cars. Little strange as the forecast didn't look good and we had a lot of rain recently. The Jim and Molly Denton Shelter has been named the sexiest shelter of the AT and it is indeed a really nice compound as I call it, with nice tent areas, a cooking pavilion, clean shelter with a bench, clean privy, shower and nearby spring. The first uphill is brutal, even with the switchbacks, I thought it would never end. The meadow is pretty and the last uphill before the shelter is doable. However, the thunderstorm did follow us and the trail turned into a roaring creek. It was actually refreshing, we were already soaked from sweat -) There were 2 thru-hikers at the shelter. We set up tent and used our firebox to grill some steaks. Shared some treats and had a pretty good night sleep. We headed out back to the car towards 11 and made it back by 1 just before the next thunderstorm! Used permethrin on my clothes and another version for skin and kept the bugs away, you'll need some bug spray during this time. Some hikers saw bear prints, we didn't see any signs of animals, lots of pretty mushrooms! I'm very behind with editing but eventually, I'll have a vid here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgYLg3wWqTfo69s1Ly_-lzw?view_as=subscriber Pictures here: https://www.instagram.com/365muses/
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 28, 2018
I backpacked this section to fine tune a new backpack. The first hill is rather brutal with a 30lbs backpack on. The climb is switchbacks but the elevation was more than I expected at about 1000 feet. Once you are over the first mountain it's pretty easy to the Denton shelter. The trail is relatively smooth for most of the way. There is one creek crossing so wear shoes you can get wet.
I camped overnight at the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter and had the shelter to myself. Plenty of flat tent sites. I also stayed at the shelter on 7/8 and shared the shelter with the tail end of 2018 thru-hikers. The thru-hikers were very friendly and lots of laughs. The shelter is nicknamed the "Hiker Hilton" because it is always kept so clean and has a spring fed cold shower, horseshoe pits, picnic pavilion and cleanest privy on the AT. It also has a nice lounge bench and was recently freshly painted. This is a 5 star shelter if there is such a thing. Seriously... who ever maintains this shelter needs an award.
The return trip to my car was easy. There's a bench in the hollow field and somebody planted three apple trees. I tried one of the apples but they were rather sour.
Parking Note: I read in one of the blogs that the parking area had some break in's so don't leave anything in plain site. I talked with a local who said it was a safe parking area however.
Forgot to mention that I took some quick video of the hike and trail conditions. Here's the link - https://youtu.be/U4YybDXedtE The video starts at the Tucker Lane parking area.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 27, 2018
While I enjoyed this hike I was a bit let down from the buildup in the description. If you’ve hiked a lot in Virginia then I think you will think this is an average hike. My GPS said 1,400 feet of climb. I consider this an easy hike as the mileage and rate of climb is low. Of course everyone is different so your mileage may vary. It’s a nice little hike but I probably wouldn’t do it again.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2018
Overall: A decent hike, pretty rigorous (I think it should be rated at least a 4), that is a short distance from DC (45 minutes). We parked at 8:45 on a Saturday (Memorial Day Weekend) and there were still a few spots available. There were a few hikers, but not terribly crowded. OK views, but not as good as other Appalachian Trail Hikes in Virginia.
-Rigorous: I walked it with a few mid 30 types and we all thought it was pretty rigorous. Definitely a good workout, particularly if the temperature is over 80 degrees.
-Meadows: The hike has two large meadows that offer decent views as well as a nice change of pace.
-Turnaround Point: There is a shelter at the turnaround point (mile 3) that provides some shelter from the heat as well as a water station. This was crucial for us, given that the temperature topped 90 degrees.
-Rigor: This is not for everyone. The first 1 miles is a rocky, sharp uphill that takes a lot out of you. Hikers must be in a decent shape and I would only encourage kids in a backpack if you are in VERY good shape. I would also add the terrain is extremely rocky, so the descent is just as difficult (hiking boots are a must). If you are inexperienced, you can park at the midpoint of the trail and move in either direction, avoiding the rocky and steep first mile.
-Parking: Parking was definitely full by 1200--I suspect, the lot filled up much earlier. On a weekend, I would recommend getting on the trail no later than 0900.
-Poison Ivy: We hiked in late May, and there is LOTs of poison ivy visible, particularly in the meadows. Make sure you have decent boots with socks that can come up to your knees (or wear pants).
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 12, 2018
Did this hike on a very warm spring day. Overall, it's really nice and pleasant. For folks that have done a lot of the mountain/forrest hikes in the Shenandoah area, this is a nice change of pace. It's definitely not too tough, but the fact that you go up and down twice gives you a workout. The first part is definitely the steepest. I can imagine areas that are rocky (there are a few) being a little thorny in the fall if they are covered with leaves. But generally the trail is extremely well maintained. The meadows are beautiful and doing the hike in May allowed for nice wildflowers also. Would recommend this hike!
By:Nice local hike
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2018
Wanted to do this last year but it rained. Did this as a quick overnight backpack. Underestimated the steepness of the climb to the meadow. That will get your heart going! Too early for leaves on the trees so it was quite toasty and there was no shade in the unexpected 80 degree April heat that came through. We camped at the shelter and were joined by five through hikers. Enjoyed hearing their stores. We slept in our hammocks and gave them the shelter. Nicest privy we've ever used, and also really cool figuring out how it works (mouldering privy). Will definitely return when leaves are on the trees as the shelter area is really nice and the meadow will be appreciated even more. Closed out the weekend with brunch at Apple House. Yum!
Date of Hike: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Early fog cleared making it a perfect day for a walk in the woods.
The railroad crossing shortly after the hike begins has a special meaning for me. It was on these tracks that the funeral train of Dwight David Eisenhower passed on April 1, 1969, on its way to Abilene, Kansas, his final resting place. I was aboard this train as a young Secret Service Agent and throughout the darkest hours of the night I witnessed thousands and thousands of people standing beside the tracks paying their respects. Working the midnight shifts, I sat outside the door of Mrs. Eisenhower's room in the last car of the train, which was beautiful and sumptuous with wood paneling. As I sat there throughout the night I had a view of the rear of the train as it passed through the dark countryside. The lights of the train illuminated those many faces as the train passed and, almost as if choreographed, the faces turned and faded into the darkness. It was one of the most moving experiences of my now long life and one of only a few times that I could really appreciate working a midnight shift.