14 August 2012

Hoover Camp, Shenandoah National Park


Late Saturday I had the idea to go to the mountains for a hike. I was looking at doing some mileage and figured I could find something around the 10 mile mark. Digging around the house I find my map of the Shenandoah National Park Central District and a guide book for Circuit Hikes In Shenandoah National Park.

On page 67 of the guide book I spied Hoover Camp which gave me a route of 9.9 miles and 5 hours. Great, never hiked this area!

When I got to Shenandoah National Park I could not have asked for better weather. Temps on the mountain was 61 degrees. That sure does beat the heatwave that we seem to have for weeks now.The trailhead starts across the road from Big Meadows Wayside. Great place to run a base of operations for day hikes.

The trail is Rapidan Road which cuts through the meadows which is a good hike for small kids. About a mile down the trail you will reach Horse Trail. This was my return route from Hoover Camp. I follow Rapidan Road and it descends to the Rapidan River Valley.

At this point you will see this sign.


At this point I do a quick map check and I see both Rapidan Camp and Hoover Camp and I know I need to start back up the mountain.


The road looks like it goes up forever...

Just a little ways up the fire road I run into one of the trail markers that has Rapidan Camp on it. The first picture of this post is what I saw at the end of that trail. I figured I was at one of the PATC cabins.

After checking my map again to see how far up the trail Hoover Camp was, a guy came around the deck of the cabin cleaning up the area. I asked him was Hoover Camp up the trail? He told me this was Hoover Camp...

OK now, things are not looking right. I know where I was on the map.. but the signs are telling me something different..That's when he tells me that this was part of the Rapidan Camp. So that when I found out that this guy cleaning up is a NPS Volunteer and has been a volunteer at Hoover Camp for 9 seasons.

Rapidan Camp is not in the park. It is just outside of it.

Here's a link to the Park Service website about the camp




The volunteer did a great job talking about the history of the camp and the Hoover's. Stopping at the camp was a great part of this hike and I am glad he took his summer off to do this. I took about an hour to take the guided tour of the camp.

Picked up Horse Trail to get back to Rapidan Road and then about a mile to the start point.

With no planning this turned out to be one of the better hikes that I have taken in the park. Maybe because it had both history and hiking in one trip.



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