Location: Central Virginia
Trip Starts: Front Royal (US 522)
Trip Ends: Keys Gap (WV 9)
Total Distance: 48.2 miles
Hike Type: One-Way, Shuttle Hike
Hike Difficulty: Moderate
Trails Used: Appalachian Trail
Trail Traffic: Heavy
Trip Type: Multi-Day Hike
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Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 West Washington Street
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
(304) 535-6331


The Appalachian Trail leaves US 522 near Front Royal and continues north past the four thousand acre National Zoological Park, an agency of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a home for rare and endangered species from all over the world and the Trail passes near a fence that marks the compound. The land was formerly a USDA research station and was also once a U.S. Calvary post.

Linden is the next trail town along the route, and it is located only one mile from the Trail on VA 55. Bears Den AYH Hostel is north of the small town of Linden and both it and the Blackburn A.T. Center are nice stops on the way to Harper’s Ferry. The Bears Den hostel is located within a few hundred yards of the Trail, and was originally built in the 1930’s. It is a rock structure owned by the Appalachian Trail Conference that has some basic services for overnight hikers. There are outstanding views of the Shenandoah Valley from Bear Den Rocks which are located not far from here.

The Blackburn A.T. Center is about eight miles north of Bears Den and it also caters to hikers. There is a hiker hostel with bunk beds, running water and a public telephone. It’s just over twenty one miles to Keys Gap from the center, and WV 9 is the first state road crossing in West Virginia (although the trail runs near the Virginia/West Virginia border for a number of miles before the gap.)

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