Boy Scouts of America Troop 1097  Serving Gaithersburg, Germantown & N. Potomac 

Primitive Camping and Cooking (Backpacking)

  • 28 Apr 2018
  • 7:30 AM
  • 29 Apr 2018
  • 2:00 PM
  • Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, Milepost 51, Shenandoah National Park, VA


Scout in Charge: Jonah Mittlestadt

Adult in Charge: Jim McGonigle

Date has been changed to Saturday 4/28/18 7:30am: Arrive at IWLA-R having had/brought breakfast

8:00am: Depart from IWLA-R.

Sunday 4/29/18 2:00pm: Return to IWLA-R. We will stop for lunch on the way home. Bring money for lunch, $10 should be good.


To North Entrance - Travel west on Interstate 66 to Front Royal, Virginia (62 miles). Take exit onto Route 340 South and follow signs for Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.
To Thornton Gap Entrance - Travel west on Interstate 66 to exit 43A (32 miles). Take US Highway 29 South to Warrenton, Virginia (11 miles). Take US Highway 211 West to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive (28 miles).

Shenandoah National Park Backcountry Camping Trip Guide 

Trip Name: Laurel Prong and Hazeltop Description: Mountain heights, cascading streams, waterfalls, Rapidan Camp historic site 

Entry: 53 MP - Milam Gap 

Exit: 53 MP - Milam Gap 

Map(s): PATC #10 Central District 

Level: Beginner 

Total Length: 7.4 miles 

Day One: 

Campsite: Laurel Prong Trail - backcountry 4.1 to 4.6 miles Find the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT) on the south side of Milam Gap parking. Hike south on the AT 2.6 miles (crossing Skyline Drive almost immediately). Sites may be found at the junction of Cat Knob Trail, however, insure that tents are erected the legal distance from the trail. Turn left onto Laurel Prong Trail, hike 1.5 to 2 miles, and find a place to camp. 

Day Two 

2.6 to 3.1 miles Continue hiking north on Laurel Prong Trail to Rapidan Camp (0.8 to 1.3 additional miles; Laurel Prong totals 2.8 miles). Explore the area, then find Mill Prong Trail at the northern end of the camp. Hike up Mill Prong Trail to Milam Gap 1.8 miles (It will be a yellow-blazed horse trail for the first 0.8 mile, then stay left on the blue-blazed trail for the remaining 1.0 mile.) 


"The Laurels" is an area that is too dense with vegetation and steep in which to camp. The nearby spring is often dry, which means planning ahead for drinking water is necessary. Find a place to camp before crossing Fork Mountain Trail, as camping is not permitted within 1/2 mile of Rapidan Camp. 


If you prefer a short first day, hike this loop in reverse. Legal campsites exist before the first stream crossing, on the right hand side of the trail. For a very short first day, you can follow the original plan by hiking north on the AT at least .25 mile to find a place to dry-camp, then hike the circuit the next day. Several legal campsites with wonderful views can be found near the summit of Hazeltop, a little over 2 miles from the trailhead. 

Need to Know:

  • Do not attempt to cross streams during icy conditions or flooding. 
  • Take plenty of water—at least a quart per hour. 
  • When you return from your hike, check for ticks. 
  • Leave what you find. Artifacts are protected by law. 
  • Filter or treat water from streams before drinking. 
  • Please respect family cemeteries 
  • Cell and GPS services are unreliable. 

Good to Know:

The A.T. to Tanners Ridge Road takes you through a former farm. Look for rock walls and old road traces. When you get to Tanners Ridge Road, you will see the Thomas-Madows family cemetery, one of over 100 cemeteries in the Park. Former residents still maintain and bury family in some of the cemeteries. Please respect both the cemeteries and any artifacts you may encounter. 

Fun to Know:

Rapidan Camp was the “summer white house” of President Herbert Hoover and the First Lady, Lou Henry Hoover. The President’s cabin, The Brown House has been restored and historically refurnished. An adjacent building houses an exhibit about the Hoovers and the camp. Check at the visitor center to find out when the buildings are open.

We'll be working on meal planning as we get closer to the campout. In the meantime, the Philmont trail menu is an example of backpacking meals and is easy to replicate. Here is an example of a day's meals:

  • Breakfast
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Pop Tarts
  • Lara Bar
  • Turkey bites
  • Lemonade mix
  • Lunch
  • Ritz crackers
  • Jalapeno squeeze cheese
  • Beef and cheese stick
  • Honey Stinger chews
  • Corn Nuts
  • Gatorade
  • Dinner
  • Chili mac – Mountain House
  • Bacon cheddar pretzels
  • Trail mix
  • Cookies

Emergency Phone: 1-800-732-0911 



 Troop 1097 Permission Slip Fillable.pdf

© Troop 1097
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software