Appalachian Trail: Four State Challenge, PA-VA

Hike 42.9 miles on the AT in 24 hours, in the process traveling across the borders of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
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Hike 42.9 miles on the AT in 24 hours, in the process traveling across the borders of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

It’s a rite of passage for many trail-hardened thru-hikers (especially the young guns), but you can get a leg up by tackling the rolling miles in cool weather and low-traffic season, rather than when most northbounders are passing through in spring. Tyler Schultz, a 2011 thru-hiker who returned to knock out the challenge after summiting Katahdin, recommends hiking the trail from north to south, so you can do the cliffy southern bit in daylight. Park a car in Harper’s Ferry at the intersection of Shenandoah Road and US 340. Take a second car to Pen-Mar Park in Waynesboro, PA, and get going before dawn (Schultz started at 3:30 a.m.). Near the end of the hike, you’ll pass your car before you get to the Virginia border. Don’t stop! To finish the challenge, cross the Shenandoah River and knock out 2.4 miles out-and-back on the AT/Loudoun Heights Trail to reach your fourth and final state line (Virginia).

Shelters: Ed Garvey Shelter: sleeps 12; privy. Crampton Gap Shelter: sleeps 6; privy. Rocky Run Shelter: sleeps 4; privy. Pine Knob Shelter: sleeps 5; privy. Ensign Cowall Shelter: sleeps 8; privy. Devils Racecourse Shelter; sleeps 7.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 68.7

Waypoints

FSC001

Location: 39.720978, -77.507004

Pen Mar Road

FSC002

Location: 39.71973, -77.507187

Just south of PA/MD state border; cross rail road

FSC003

Location: 39.717335, -77.508682

View Pen Mar Park

FSC004

Location: 39.693516, -77.523582

Blue blaze trail to High Rocks view; 2 mi. long

FSC005

Location: 39.693748, -77.521977

High Rock Trail

FSC006

Location: 39.673275, -77.528343

Trail to shelter

FSC007

Location: 39.671982, -77.524483

Devils Racecourse Shelter

FSC008

Location: 39.664799, -77.533234

Blue blaze to Raven Rock Cliff view

FSC009

Location: 39.664551, -77.536209

PA 491 and Raven Rock Road

FSC010

Location: 39.656315, -77.538666

Warner Gap Hollow Rd

FSC011

Location: 39.650749, -77.542198

AT turns E

FSC012

Location: 39.648033, -77.539314

Rock stairs

FSC013

Location: 39.6371, -77.541214

MD 77

FSC014

Location: 39.630615, -77.555847

Trail to shelter

FSC015

Location: 39.630882, -77.555931

Ensign Cowall Shelter

FSC016

Location: 39.629749, -77.557549

AT continues straight @ jct. with trail to spring

FSC017

Location: 39.630001, -77.558937

MD 17; parking

FSC018

Location: 39.628017, -77.564903

Rocky ascent

FSC019

Location: 39.627701, -77.565964

Rocky top

FSC020

Location: 39.615658, -77.572563

Spur trail to the E leads to views

FSC021

Location: 39.577282, -77.588753

Blue Blaze Thurston Griggs Trail to spring; 300 ft.

FSC022

Location: 39.57695, -77.588654

Pogo Memorial Campsite

FSC023

Location: 39.572601, -77.596497

Black Rock view

FSC024

Location: 39.559551, -77.595535

Blue blaze trail W to Annapolis Rock

FSC025

Location: 39.540054, -77.600525

Blue blaze E

FSC026

Location: 39.540424, -77.60099

Trail to Pine Knob Shelter

FSC027

Location: 39.540333, -77.602501

Trail to shelter

FSC028

Location: 39.535435, -77.6036

Parking; Greenbrier State Park

FSC029

Location: 39.535049, -77.606186

I-70 footbridge

FSC030

Location: 39.534698, -77.608032

Boonsboro Mtn. Rd

FSC031

Location: 39.530567, -77.610016

Blue blaze trail W to Bartram hill

FSC032

Location: 39.529915, -77.61087

Bartram hill

FSC033

Location: 39.527817, -77.6129

Boonsboro Mtn. Rd

FSC034

Location: 39.501019, -77.622704

AT turns W @ jct. with trail to Washington Monument

FSC035

Location: 39.499985, -77.62365

Washington Monument

FSC036

Location: 39.499283, -77.623367

Mt. Verno picnic pavilion to S

FSC037

Location: 39.497799, -77.619904

Road

FSC038

Location: 39.497833, -77.617386

Monument Rd

FSC039

Location: 39.484852, -77.618736

View to SE

FSC040

Location: 39.484417, -77.619347

Dahlgren Chapel

FSC041

Location: 39.484215, -77.619415

Turners Gap; U.S. Alt. 40

FSC042

Location: 39.464882, -77.624313

At turns E

FSC043

Location: 39.462872, -77.628922

Trail to shelter

FSC044

Location: 39.460968, -77.631119

Rocky Run Shelter

FSC045

Location: 39.457333, -77.626404

Road to towers

FSC046

Location: 39.44445, -77.632835

Blue blaze trail to E; leads to Bear Spring Cabin (may be locked)

FSC047

Location: 39.428566, -77.639183

Rocks to the E

FSC048

Location: 39.410816, -77.64032

Trail to Crampton Gap Shelter

FSC049

Location: 39.4058, -77.63958

Gapland Road

FSC050

Location: 39.36655, -77.658859

Pass blue-blaze trail; view to the northwest

FSC051

Location: 39.360054, -77.662682

Pass spur trail to Ed Garvey Shelter on right.

FSC052

Location: 39.359821, -77.662033

Ed Garvey Shelter

FSC053

Location: 39.333374, -77.67646

Follow blue blazes to the south for views above the Weverton Cliffs.

FSC054

Location: 39.332176, -77.676598

Weverton Cliffs: Savor great views across the Potomac River, then return to Waypoint 53.

FSC055

Location: 39.332821, -77.68203

Weverton Road

FSC056

Location: 39.331486, -77.685165

I-340 underpass

FSC057

Location: 39.329872, -77.682495

Kepp Tryst Road

FSC058

Location: 39.329273, -77.68148

AT turns west; C&O Canal Towpath.

FSC059

Location: 39.325405, -77.701477

Blue-blazed trail leads to hostel.

FSC060

Location: 39.32568, -77.706314

Cross US 340; Sandy Hook Bridge

FSC061

Location: 39.324143, -77.726265

Cross footbridge

FSC062

Location: 39.322834, -77.730164

AT turns northwest on High Street; parking

FSC063

Location: 39.323055, -77.730507

Stone steps

FSC064

Location: 39.322949, -77.73082

Trail to ATC

FSC065

Location: 39.322922, -77.733467

Pass Jefferson Rock on L (massive, tilted shale slab perched on smaller slab); green hills roll down to the confluence of Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers; continue W

FSC066

Location: 39.322929, -77.740334

Turn R @ 3-way; follow blue blazes .2 mi.

FSC067

Location: 39.321819, -77.744469

Turn L @ T onto US 340; cross Shenandoah St., then Shenandoah River on bridge

FSC068

Location: 39.319149, -77.740799

Cross to R side of highway, then climb stairs that lead up cliff and AT tread

FSC069

Location: 39.31488, -77.740631

Walk across Chestnut Hill Rd. and head SW

FSC070

Location: 39.313599, -77.737503

Bear R (S) @ Y with orange-blazed trail; continue ascent of Blue Ridge

FSC071

Location: 39.310749, -77.736977

Turn R @ T with Loudoun Heights Trail; head SW along ridge crest (also the WV?VA state line)

FSC072

Location: 39.304729, -77.740677

Ridgeline views into Harpers Ferry and lush river valley

FSC073

Location: 39.303446, -77.741044

State line! Retrace your steps to your car in Harpers' Ferry