AT: Beagle Gap to Calf Mountain Shelter

  • Highlights: Meadows, views, wildlife, birdwatching, wildflowers, AT shelter
  • Distance: 4.9 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: 821 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Beagle Gap parking area, Skyline Drive mile 99.5, park fee required
  • Website: Hiking Upward
  • Beer Pairings: Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie—Skipping Rock Kolsch & Blue Mountain Full Nelson

The Hike:

This hike follows the Appalachian Trail through two meadows and over the summit of Calf Mountain to an AT shelter. The trail is well marked and well maintained. From the parking area, enter the first meadow through the  “V” opening in the fence with the white AT blaze. Calf Mountain is the long ridge on the left. Follow the AT north through the meadow. The meadow is full of wildflowers, berry bushes and several old apple trees. The AT enters into the forest and begins the climb up Calf Mountain.

At .2 miles reach a trail junction. Bear right to stay on the white-blazed AT. Reach the open summit of Little Calf Mountain at .7 miles. The meadow spreads out to the south with nice views. The AT takes a sharp left turn at the meadow and soon enters back into the forest. At 1 mile, reach a pile of rocks in the center of the trail. This is the summit of Calf Mountain. Pass by the remains of stone fences. This area was farm and pasture land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries before Shenandoah became a National Park.

At 2.2 miles reach a trail junction and weathered sign for the shelter and spring. Turn left here and follow the blue-blazes to the spring at .2 miles and then .1 miles further to the Calf Mountain shelter. The spring is a white PVC pipe with a trickle of water that must be treated before drinking. The shelter dates from the 1980s and is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. Take a few minutes to read some of then entries in the hikers log. Retrace your steps heading south on the AT to the meadow at Little Calf Mountain and to Beagle Gap and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

This hike is located about 5 miles from Rockfish Gap and Interstate 64. Many brewery options are nearby including some of our favorites: Basic City Beer Co. and Seven Arrows Brewing in Waynesboro and Starr Hill and Pro Re Nata in Crozet. We were in the mood for pizza and beer and Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie is an excellent option. Located just 15 miles from the Rockfish Gap entrance station, Dr. Ho’s has been making great pizza with locally sourced ingredients since 1998. They also have a nice selection of Virginia craft beer, salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

We decided on the The Big Schloss pizza, (white sauce, spinach, portobello mushrooms, Italian sausage, roasted tomatoes, Mozzarella, basil, and Parmesan). Hiking Big Schloss is on our to-do hike list. Pete really liked the Kolsh from Skipping Rock Beer Co. in Staunton. It was light and refreshing with just 4.8% ABV and 22 IBUs. Kathy enjoyed an old favorite, Full Nelson from nearby Blue Mountain Brewery, a great Pale Ale nicely hopped at 60 IBUs. The beer and pizza were great and we are already planning a return visit.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.

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