Five Tips for Backpacking through Shenandoah National Park

Backpacking pic

Backpacking
Image: nps.gov

A cardiologist, Dr. Pradeep Ghia maintained his own practice in Pennsylvania for more than 30 years. An outdoorsman with an interest in hiking and backpacking the Appalachian Trail, Dr. Pradeep Ghia is particularly fond of the Shenandoah National Park. The National Park Service offers the following advice to individuals considering a backpacking excursion through Shenandoah National Park.

1. Know your outdoor skill level. Plan your trip according to the outdoor skill level of yourself and others in the group. More advanced campgrounds and trails may feature hazards and terrain not appropriate for beginning hikers and backpackers, so take the time to research before you begin planning. Shenandoah National Park offers three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

2. Follow park regulations. Park regulations are in place for the protection of campers, wildlife, and the natural environment. Backpacking in Shenandoah requires all individuals to acquire a permit and attempt to restrict their camping to pre-existing campsites and designated areas. Dispersed camping in a previously undisturbed area is permitted if a pre-existing site cannot be found, but backpackers must abide by the Leave No Trace practice.

3. Pack the right equipment. Packing the proper equipment can help limit your impact on the environment and avoid violating park regulations. Examples of proper equipment include small trowels to burry human waste, portable water filters or purifiers, and ropes to hang food out of the reach of wildlife. Park regulations do not allow campfires, so backpackers will also need to carry an independent fuel source to prepare foods and boil water.

4. Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from any wildlife you encounter and do not feed any animal per park regulations. Wildlife native to the park includes animals that may pose a danger to humans if approached, such as bears and poisonous snakes.

5. Avoid shortcuts. Avoid taking shortcuts while on the trail, particularly between switchbacks on steeper trails. Venturing off trail can lead to hazardous results and may cause damage to the surrounding vegetation, which violates the Leave No Trace rule.

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