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5-7 Day Backpacking Trip Advice


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We're looking to roll our own in 2023 and do a 5-7 day backpacking trip instead of the national HA camps we've been doing. It's both for change of pace and to save some money.

We're in Northern Virginia and looking to get out of the area, but within a day's drive. I know there are many options out there, I'm wondering if any of you have actually done something and can give some advice.

One idea is backpack in the Smokies and maybe a day in Dollywood. Or maybe drive north to the Poconos or Adirondaks.

Thanks!

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A lot in the Adirondacks. Backpacking and/or canoeing. Can also do hybrids. There are 6 million acres.

Some areas (extremely high use) have restrictions like no fires. Most areas fires are still allowed. All areas have group size restrictions for camping (maximum 9 people).  

What mileage are you looking to do each day? Also what other activities; fishing, paddling, off-trail bushwhacking, etc...

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2 hours ago, DuctTape said:

A lot in the Adirondacks. Backpacking and/or canoeing. Can also do hybrids. There are 6 million acres.

Some areas (extremely high use) have restrictions like no fires. Most areas fires are still allowed. All areas have group size restrictions for camping (maximum 9 people).  

What mileage are you looking to do each day? Also what other activities; fishing, paddling, off-trail bushwhacking, etc...

Yeah, I've found that both the Adirondacks and Smokies have permits, group limits and even restrict to specific campsites, which would all be a problem. 

As far as other activities, I'm just beginning the process. I want to first find what is logistically possible, then present ideas to the scouts. Fishing and maybe a day trip at the beginning/end to do rafting would likely be popular.

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We're nowhere close to you so I have no ideas for you but the roll your own HA trips are great. Not only less money but easier to add side trips and better food.

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Appalachian Trail... any section hike is good.  No group limits, lots of in-town options, etc.  Here is a good tool...   https://nps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6298c848ba2a490588b7f6d25453e4e0

Numerous loops are available from state forests and parks trails all along the AT to make logistics easier. 

Adirondacks... multiple options.  Crew sizes are limited in areas.  Cranberry Lake 50 Trail (actually, a series of interconnected trails) is a good option. https://cranberrylake50.org/  This trail is a circuit, so parking and logistics is easier.  It's a long way from Northern VA 😜

Or there is the Northville Placid Trail, 135 miles total, so you could do a section hike if that is too long.  http://nptrail.org/

Poconos...the Pinchot Trail (interconnected system) is good...and camping in the State Forest is free (and you can camp almost anywhere).  Advertised at 23 miles, but with interconnecting forest roads and side trails, you can easily put together a much longer trek. http://elibrary.dcnr.pa.gov/GetDocument?docId=1753357&DocName=dcnr_20033753.pdf

Alleghenys...Laurel Highlands Trail http://elibrary.dcnr.pa.gov/GetDocument?docId=1743399&DocName=LARI_ParkMap.pdf , and you can do a whitewater trip in Ohiopyle on the Youghiogheny River (pronounced YOCK-a-gainy)  You could also drop in to Pittsburgh and pay @qwazsea visit ;)

Have backpacked various lengths on all these...no big issues that proper planning wouldn't overcome.

Enjoy!

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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19 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

Certified guides are NOT required in the Adirondacks.

Edited and removed...thanks!

I conflated that with info from source which says BSA camps offering certified Trek Leaders as guides are certified by the state...and required by the camp.  Not required for unit treks...sorry for the confusion.

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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6 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Appalachian Trail... any section hike is good.  No group limits, lots of in-town options, etc.  Here is a good tool...   https://nps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6298c848ba2a490588b7f6d25453e4e0

Numerous loops are available from state forests and parks trails all along the AT to make logistics easier. 

Adirondacks... multiple options.  Crew sizes are limited in areas.  Cranberry Lake 50 Trail (actually, a series of interconnected trails) is a good option. https://cranberrylake50.org/  This trail is a circuit, so parking and logistics is easier.  It's a long way from Northern VA 😜

Or there is the Northville Placid Trail, 135 miles total, so you could do a section hike if that is too long.  http://nptrail.org/

Poconos...the Pinchot Trail (interconnected system) is good...and camping in the State Forest is free (and you can camp almost anywhere).  Advertised at 23 miles, but with interconnecting forest roads and side trails, you can easily put together a much longer trek. http://elibrary.dcnr.pa.gov/GetDocument?docId=1753357&DocName=dcnr_20033753.pdf

Alleghenys...Laurel Highlands Trail http://elibrary.dcnr.pa.gov/GetDocument?docId=1743399&DocName=LARI_ParkMap.pdf , and you can do a whitewater trip in Ohiopyle on the Youghiogheny River (pronounced YOCK-a-gainy)  You could also drop in to Pittsburgh and pay @qwazsea visit ;)

Have backpacked various lengths on all these...no big issues that proper planning wouldn't overcome.

Enjoy!

Fantastic ideas! And I grew up (allegedly) in Pittsburgh. Pierogis and Primanti's are on @qwazse :)

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3 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

Fantastic ideas! And I grew up (allegedly) in Pittsburgh. Pierogis and Primanti's are on @qwazse :)

If only my buddy could keep his family business rolling. A small order of fries from the Original Hot Dog shop would feed a troop!

I have put my plans for an urban trek on the back burner. This town would be ideal for it.

But, my personal favorite for a few days backpacking is Dolly Sods wilderness.

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8 hours ago, qwazse said:

If only my buddy could keep his family business rolling. A small order of fries from the Original Hot Dog shop would feed a troop!

I have put my plans for an urban trek on the back burner. This town would be ideal for it.

But, my personal favorite for a few days backpacking is Dolly Sods wilderness.

Both of my parents went to Pitt and we'd drive by The O every time they took me to the library.

Hmmmmm. Dolly Sods is something to consider.

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On 11/25/2021 at 12:23 PM, 69RoadRunner said:

If your scouts like wilderness, that’s as good as it gets on the east coast.

Note that wilderness recreation areas should not be traversed in groups larger than 10. When our troop and crew were large, we planned a different itinerary for each patrol.

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Our troop always rolls our own.  Great adventures at a fraction of the cost of HA bases.

We have gone to Shenandoah National Park and Smokey Mountains National Park.  Both are practically in your back yard.

Shenandoah not so much wilderness.  The Appalachian Trail runs very near the main road.  You always here car traffic.  We took some side trails down the mountains and saw plenty of water falls and swimming holes.  But the side trails had heavy hiker traffic.

Smokey Mountains is huge you can find plenty of trails and if you are a few miles from any road you may only see a few other hikers in a day.  Campsites have bear bag hanging systems which is one less worry after a long day hiking.  If you get off the Appalachian Trail the trails run along streams where water is plentiful.  Water sources are always something to take seriously when in the wilderness.

I always wanted to try Daniel Boone National Forest  There are a lot of natural bridges and waterfalls.  Looks very nice.

Anther place I want to try is Dolly Sods.  I have heard it is a very beautiful place.

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