|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Easy overnight section of AT in Maryland. Begins at overnight parking lot off of 40 and follows the AT South for ~7.5 miles to the Rocky Run shelter. Along the way, trail passes through the South Mountain area (site of a Civil War battle) and the first Washington Monument.
There are several camping options along the way. South of the Washington Monument, the trail crosses into Boonsboro at 40. Right on 40 is the South Mountain Inn - we didn't stop in, but apparently they're accomidating of trail hikers. Just south of 40 (<0.25 mile) is the Dahlgren backpacking camp. This site had 4 or 5 picnic tables and fire pits, room for plenty of tents, and the best part - hot showers and flush toliets! We decided to keep going south though, and camp at the Rocky Run shelter.
About 1.5 miles south of Dahlgren, there's a marked turn off for the Rocky Run shelter. If you follow the fire road (which at the time of this writing was not marked with blue blazes), you'll end up at the new shetler. This shelter was very nice, with two "stories" and a large patio and a new privy. Instead of taking the fire road, ff you look closer in that area, you'll see a blue blazed trail leading to the old shelter (when we were there, the trailhead to the trail was covered in brush, presumably by design). We ended up staying at the older shelter, which was still quite nice - nice fire pit, a decent (enough) privy, and even a swing. The spring is right near the old shelter. There were also plenty of tent sites (each with a bench, and a nearby fire pit) mostly on the ridge behind the new shelter.
Like other parts of the trail in this area, the views are nice but the ridge is often tree covered. Though... that's a welcome respite from the summer sun. Terrain is relatively easy, with just a few harder up/down hill stretches mixed in with ridge hiking. The trail was fairly heavily traveled, but mostly with day hikers (at this time of year). There were 3 or 4 other hikers at the Rocky Run area, and probably that many had already set up at Dahlgren when we went through there around noon.