Backpacking in Shenandoah National Park is a must-do activity for any nature lover. With over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail passing through Shenandoah National Park, it is a famous area for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. There are many fantastic backpacking routes to try, so even seasoned backpackers can experience something new when they enter the park with a pack.
Backpacking Shenandoah can be done at most backpacking experience levels, as long as you have the right info in your head and tools in your pack. Preparation is the difference between an ideal backpacking trip and a trip full of problems. If you are gearing up for one of these exciting adventures, we’ve added a list of essentials that we recommend you bring.
Here are our top essentials when backpacking one of the amazing trails in Shenandoah or an Appalachian Trail Shenandoah section hike!
Top Essentials for Backpacking Shenandoah
A confirmed route and way to track progress
Don’t hop on a trail without a plan and a way to check your progress. Some routes aren’t as straightforward as others, so initial preparation and understanding of the trail beforehand can seriously reduce confusion when you come to a fork in the road. Also, have a device or app on your phone to confirm what you’ve hiked and what comes next for added confidence.
Cell reception is unreliable while backpacking Shenandoah, so having a downloaded GPS app would be helpful. And always bring a physical map of your area as a confident fallback plan!
Proper food storage
There aren’t any Grizzly Bears in Shenandoah to be concerned about, but the average hiker will see signs of a black bear every day or so. That means having bear-safe food storage is critical! While bear canisters aren’t mandated in Shenandoah, they are highly recommended for keeping you and your food safe from bears.
You can find different safe food storage options for both standard backpacking and ultralight backpackers, so you can choose the right choice for your trek.
Waterproof covers for you and your pack
In Shenandoah National Park, it rains 8-10 days out of the month, even in the summer heat. So with high chances of rain at any given time, don’t take your chances backpacking Shenandoah without rain gear!
There’s nothing more annoying than feeling damp! On top of that, it can decrease body temperature and increase the chances of chafing and blisters. We recommend bringing a quality rain jacket to keep your body dry and a rain cover for your pack to keep your belongings dry.
Backpacking Shenandoah is gorgeous. But, it is also very humid. This humidity breeds an exciting amount of bugs. Hungry mosquitos and the resulting bites are annoying, but the big problem can be ticks and tick-borne diseases. While Lyme Disease is rare in Shenandoah, it’s not unheard of – so protect yourself!
Bring bug spray that repels all types of insects, from mosquitos to ticks. You can also treat your pack, sleeping bag and clothing with a fabric spray beforehand to protect yourself even more.
Water treatment options
Of course, step #1 is bringing a responsible amount of safe drinking water with you. But what happens when you run out?
You need to have a solid strategy for securing safe water, especially if you embark on a longer trek. Shenandoah is far from a desert, but that doesn’t mean you will have safe water to drink at every point on your trail. Before hitting the trail, understand where you’ll have access to a water source and when to refill. Also, bringing water treatment tools like tablets, UV lights, and filters will confirm that your water is safe for drinking.
As long as you come prepared, you will have a fantastic time exploring this magical national park. For more tricks, tips, and recommendations for activities in and around Shenandoah National Park, check out our blog!
Front Royal Outdoors is your premier outfitter for Shenandoah River adventures! Whether you’re looking for an escape from a nearby city or on vacation in Shenandoah National Park, our family-friendly river trips provide the perfect getaway for groups of all sizes. Don’t just take it from us, book a Shenandoah River kayaking adventure today!