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Hike the Appalachian Trail in Four States!

Program Number: 18537RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/14/2014 - 9/19/2014; 10/26/2014 - 10/31/2014; 4/26/2015 - 5/1/2015; 5/24/2015 - 5/29/2015; 6/7/2015 - 6/12/2015; 6/21/2015 - 6/26/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sharpsburg, Maryland
Price starting at: $715.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Perhaps the most famous hiking trail in the world, the Appalachian Trail runs for 2,174 miles, from Maine to Georgia, over mountains, valleys and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the east. On daily hikes of six to ten miles, sample gorgeous stretches of the trail in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Your base will be the Shepherd’s Spring Retreat Center, whose unique location provides convenient access to all four states.




Highlights

• Daily hikes take you across the beautiful Appalachia mountains while bringing you into several state and national parks as well as historic areas.
• Naturalists, "AT" thru-hikers, and others lead the discovery of your inspiring natural surroundings.
• After a day on the trail, relax in comfort as you learn about the journey that is the Appalachian Trail and the people who call Appalachia home.



Activity Particulars

Walking 6-10 miles daily over varied terrain at your own pace. Some hiking requires a passenger van to trailheads.




Date Specific Information

9-14-2014, 10-26-2014, 4-26-2015, 5-24-2015, 6-7-2015, 6-21-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Coordinated by Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center.




Sharpsburg

Sharpsburg lies east of the Potomac River near one of its tributaries, Antietam Creek, made famous by the pivotal Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War. Sharpsburg is part of Maryland’s Washington County, which attracts history fans with its numerous Civil War sites and nature buffs with its many national, state and local parks.



Accommodations
Modern lodge with natural spring, pavilion, fireplace, campfire circles. Classes, lodging, meals under one roof. Alcohol prohibited.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Paul McDermott

Paul McDermott has taught geography and cartography at schools including George Mason and the University of Maryland. His research interests include the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, on which he co-produced a four-map series. Paul was the academic consultant for two US Postal Service Stamps — The Louisana Purchase and the Earth Day 1972. He has been a visiting scholar to the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, and is a consultant to the Lewis and Clark Rediscovery Project in Montana. His current endeavors include an ever expanding list of award-winning books to which he has authored or contributed.
 
John Clatterbaugh

John Clatterbaugh is a retired biology instructor who teaches adult education classes at several community colleges, focusing on edible natural plants. John is also an avid sportsman and angler, and has helped preserve and restore some of the best fly fishing streams in Maryland.
 
Ben Hammaker

The author of “Northbound: The Daily Account of an Appalachian Trail Thru-hike,” Ben Hammaker combined his love of writing with his dream — and accomplishment — of hiking the entire the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Today, Ben is a teacher in the Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
  Sharpsburg, MD 5 nights
 Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Type: Conference Center
  Description: Situated along the Potomac River and C&O Canal, Shepherd's Spring has 220 acres of woodland and rolling meadows. This secluded site is a relaxing refuge for people and a haven for wildlife. Demonstration gardens, a Heifer Global Village, and more create an eco-friendly learning facility with worldwide scope.
  Contact info: 16869 Taylors Landing Road
Sharpsburg, MD 21782 USA
phone: 301-223-8193
web: www.shepherdsspring.org
  Room amenities: Rooms are simple yet comfortable and include a luggage rack, dresser, desk, chair, and most have a futon. A telephone is available in the common area. Each room has its own private bath along with individually controlled heating and air conditioning. Linens are provided, though there is no maid service during the program.
  Facility amenities: Part of the charm of Shepherd’s Spring is “getting away from it all” to focus on meaningful activities and ideas. The site features a natural spring as well as nature and meditation trails for hiking. There is limited wireless Internet access, and a computer is available for guest use in the common area. TV and telephones only in the common areas. Free parking available on site.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $45/ room Call ahead for availability at (301) 223-8193
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $45/ room Call ahead for availability at (301) 223-8193
  Check out time: 1:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
5:30 pm dinner on Sunday You will be staying at Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center that night.
  End of Program:
11:30 am lunch on Friday You will be staying at Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Health form
  Parking availability:
Free on-site parking.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sharpsburg, MD
  Nearest city or town:  Sharpsburg, MD
  Nearest highway: Interstates 81 and 70
  Nearest airport:  Hagerstown (limited service) BWI, IAD, Reagan National
  From End of Program
  Location: Sharpsburg, MD
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Sharpsburg

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
Shepherd's Spring
phone: 301-223-8193
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$75, discounts for additional persons
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 1/2 

 

Distance:

 

75 miles

   

Airport transportation provided to and from BWI, IAD, and Washington Reagan. Regional airport at Hagerstown, MD transportation available for $20 per person. Please call ahead to schedule pick-up service. 301-223-8193

 

Sharpsburg

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
Shepherd's Spring
phone: 301-223-8193

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$45
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

30 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

22 miles

   

AMTRAK service to Martinsburg, WV. Please call ahead to schedule pick-up. 301-223-8193 An alternative pickup from the Washington DC Union Station is to take the DC Metro System Red Line to Shady Grove and arrange for our shuttle to pick you up there. It is a 45 minute ride on the Red Line to the Shady Grove stop. Please call 301-223-8193 if you need assistance.

 
Driving Directions
  From Pennsylvania Travel South on I-81 to I-70 East, to Rt. 65 South. Then follow the directions below from where it says "Travel South on Rt. 65 for 7.1 miles..."
  From Virginia - East Take I-495 to 270N to Frederick. Take I-70 W to Route 65, and then follow the directions below from where it says "Travel South on Rt. 65 for 7.1 miles..."
  From Virginia - West Go North on I-81 to I-70 east, to Rt. 65, and then follow the directions below from where it says "Travel South on Rt. 65 for 7.1 miles..."
  from Baltimore/ Washington Area Take I-70 West to the Route 65 interchange in Hagerstown (Exit 29.) Travel South on Route 65 for 7.1 miles to Taylors Landing Road - turn right onto Taylors Landing Rd. and drive 2.2 miles. You will cross a railroad track, pass houses, and then veer to the right. Stay on Taylors Landing Road. Drive along side a dry canal bed, and eventually cross a small creek. Pass 2 houses on the left, continue to the top of the hill. Look for a big sign on the left that says "Shepherd's Spring, Outdoor Ministry Center, Church of the Brethren." Turn left into the paved driveway. The lodge is 7/10th of a mile from the end of the driveway.
Elevation Note: All hikes are below 3000 ft

Equipment Requirements: Hiking shoes Day pack - hikers will carry own lunch. Hydration - either 2 water bottles or camel or similar hydration pack, Walking sticks are optional
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration and introduction to the facilities. Get to know fellow hikers. A documentary video on the AT is shown.
(Sunday, September 14)

Note: No physically demanding activities are scheduled. Our property does border the C&O Canal for those who are eager to get out and hike on their own.



   
 Arrive To: Check-in from 3-5 p.m. in the Lodge main lobby. Receive information packet, including a detailed itinerary and daily hike information for the week.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet-style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Become familiarized with the program, the facility and one another during our general orientation.Get acquainted with the Appalachian Trail through a presentation by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. A patchwork of private, state and federal lands makes this National Park unique. Follow the trail through 13 states as we learn about the partnerships that make this park work.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Hiking in Pennsylvania to the posted midpoint of the AT. Our hike will end at historic Pine Grove Furnace, an iron furnace with historic links to the Revolutionary War and the Underground Railroad. We stop in at the AT's only museum located on-site.
(Monday, September 15)

Note: This day's hike is approximately 8.5 miles long covering over 900 feet in elevation change. This section of the AT is very rocky terrain and sure footing is needed. Most of the significant elevation changes are downhill. This is our Pennsylvania hike.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet-style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room. Pack your own lunch from the variety of options available.
 Morning: Ride into Pennsylvania for the start of our hike at the area known as Big Flats. Lunch is enjoyed about five miles down the trail at one of the AT shelters. We hike through Michaux State Forest and lovely hemlock groves.
 Lunch: Delve into the lunch you've packed and carried at the Tom's Run Shelter along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue the hike through the Pennsylvania rocks. A WWII POW camp nestled along the mountain is part of the scenery - along with the midpoint of the AT. A stop at the AT Museum at the end of the day - and if the general store is open, do the thru hiker challenge of 1/2 gallon of ice cream! (Also available in smaller cone size!)
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet-style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Be inspired by the adventures of a local thru-hiker. From preparation to completion, follow his adventures and challenges along the way. Maybe you'll be inspired to plan your own hike, learning from his experiences. Hope you like peanut butter!
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: This day the AT crosses the three historic passes that Union forces crossed before engaging Confederates at the battle of Antietam. The starting point will be at the nation's first monument to George Washington and cross over a vista at Lamb's Knoll.
(Tuesday, September 16)

Note: This hike will cover 9.5 miles. A signifigant elevation change occurs in climbing Lamb's Knoll, when we ascend more than 800 feet in just over a mile. The main ascent is fairly rocky, though the remainder of the trail is fairly clear of rocks compared to the other hikes. This is our Maryland hike.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy an ample breakfast in the Shepherd's Spring Lodge dining room. Then pack your lunch from the choices provided.
 Morning: Ride to the nation's first Washington Monument, where we'll catch a grand vista from atop South Mountain. Then hike southward following the path of Confederate soldiers who defended Turner's Gap and Fox's Gap during the Civil War Battle of South Mountain in 1862.
 Lunch: Delve into the lunch you've packed and carried at the Rocky Run Shelter after a 4.25-mile hike.
 Afternoon: Complete the hike over today's highest point at Lamb's Knoll ending at Crampton's Gap. Here we find the War Correspondents' Memorial Arch, created by Civil War correspondent George Alfred Townsend, who wrote under the pen name of GATH. The area surrounding the memorial is Gathland State Park and features what remains of Townsend's estate.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet-style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Lectures alternate between a presentation on the settlement process along the trail in the local area from colonial days to the present and the geologic importance to settlement or a presentation on the edible plants found along these sections of the Appalachian Trail.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: We will be hiking a portion of the AT known as the "Rollercoaster," which is a section of trail that many thru-hikers consider the proving grounds of the AT. A few vistas and a possible stop at a unique trail hostel are among highlights.
(Wednesday, September 17)

Note: This is one of the more challenging hikes. While only covering about seven miles, the terrain is rocky and elevation changes (ascents and descents) are numerous and dramatic. Approximate elevation changes go from 1,000-1,300 and 750-1,100 to 900-1,200 and 800-1,250 in our 6.8-mile span. This is our Virginia hike.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet-style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room. Pack your own lunch from the variety of options available.
 Morning: Begin your "ride" on the rollercoaster of Virginia, a series of ascents and descents paralleling the Shenandoah River Valley at Snicker's Gap. After the first ascent, a beautiful vista of the Shenandoah River makes the climb worthwhile. A short side trail makes it possible to stop at Bear's Den hostel. An oasis for thru hikers with comfortable beds, laundry facilities and prepared food, it is easy to see why hikers have made this a popular stopover.
 Lunch: Delve into the lunch you've packed and carried at the Sam Moore Shelter after hiking approximately 3.8 miles.
 Afternoon: Continue on the rollercoaster with a series of ups and downs. Another lovely view of the valley awaits at Buzzard Hill. Though shorter in length, this is a challenging hike and one that provides section hikers with a real sense of accomplishment at day's end. Our return trip in the van passes by the Homeland Security outpost known as Mount Weather.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet-style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Enjoy National Geographic's tale of adventures on the Appalchian Trail. Be sure to watch for some of the stars of the film as we visit the headquarters of the AT Conservancy the next day.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Our last day of hiking on the AT will center around the historic town and National Park of Harpers Ferry. There will be time to explore the park and town. We will also visit the AT Conservancy HQ, the organization responsible for the AT's maintenance.
(Thursday, September 18)

Note: This day is the only day in which there is an alternative hike available to participants. The scheduled hike is 6.5 miles and crosses over Loudon Heights, Va., and into Harpers Ferry W.Va. The elevation changes are sizable, from a 600-foot climb to an 800-foot decline. Should the participant opt out of this hike, there is an alternate hike where the AT coincides with the level C&O Canal towpath (one of very few places where the AT can be biked on). This is our West Virginia hike.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet-style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge. Pack your own lunch from the options available.
 Morning: Ride to Loudon Heights, one of the mountains surrounding Harpers Ferry, to begin today's journey. As the AT flip-flops between the state lines of Virginia and West Virginia, be sure to walk on the right side of the trail that is in West Virginia to get all four miles of the West Virginia trail. A short side trail will provide a vista of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Descend into the Shenandoah River basin to cross at the new bridge. For those who've experienced enough ups and downs on the AT, an alternative flat hike that is also part of the C&O Canal Towpath is offered. This hike begins in Maryland and crosses the Potomac River bridge. Everyone will meet for a late lunch at the AT Conservancy Headquarters.
 Lunch: We'll have lunch at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters at the end of the day's hike. There the employees of the conservancy will greet us and share some of their own stories regarding the trail.
 Afternoon: Trace your steps from the week along the AT relief map or find pictures of friends or relatives who have thru-hiked the trail in the picture archives of the AT Conservancy. Then, return to the trail to the view that Thomas Jefferson described as "worth a trip across the ocean" at Jefferson Rock. The trail continues down the stone steps into Old Town Harpers Ferry. Complete the West Virginia miles by hiking to the point where the Potomac meets the Shenandoah River. There will be time to explore the museums and shops in historic Harpers Ferry.
 Dinner: A farewell banquet dinner will be held in the lodge dining room.
 Evening: Enjoy hammered dulcimers, guitars and banjos at O'Hurley's General Store in nearby Shepherdstown, W.Va. Music of the Appalachian region is played by a rotating group of local musicians who have gathered every Thursday night for the past 30 years! This is a real treat for the ears, not to mention easy on the feet.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: There will be a bonus hike along a trail at Antietam National Battlefield. This hike comes after a brief driving exploration of the battlefield. Participants will hike near Burnside's Bridge, a turning point during the battle and a noted scenic overlook.
(Friday, September 19)

Note: The approximate three-mile hike along mostly level and clear terrain will take place after a 45-minute driving exploration of the battlefield.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet-style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room. No need to pack lunch today, because we'll be back to enjoy lunch in the dining room!
 Morning: Drive through historic Antietam National Battlefield, stopping at several historic landmarks. Stops may include the Cornfield, the Dunker Church and the Bloody Lane. We conclude the morning by hiking one of the battlefield trails next to Antietam Creek by historic Burnside Bridge. The Burnside Bridge is considered the most scenic spot of the battlefield, offering not only a scenic overlook but a strategic view.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch with a salad bar in the Shepherd’s Spring lodge dining room.
 Afternoon: Depart following lunch, about 1 p.m.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


In Beauty May She Walk, Hiking the AT at 60


Author: Leslie Mass


Description: In 2001, Leslie Mass turns a lifelong fantasy into reality. She began a grueling journey - a thru-hike of the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail. A wife, mother, and suburban college administrator, Leslie is just like any other woman you might pass on a grocery aisle. Her story is an inspiring physical and mental journey to reach the goal of a lifetime.



Walking with Spring, the first thru-hike of the AT


Author: Earl V Shaffer


Description: It was the spring of 1948, and a young man from Pennsylvania had to work out of his psyche the sights, sounds and losses of WWII; he took a hike- for four months! On August 5 of that year, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike uninterrupted the entire length of the AT. Written soon after the first of his three thru hikes and including photos from 1948, this book chronicles Shaffer's adventures along a path that at the time was showing the neglect of the war years and has since been rerouted significantly to its semi-permanent location. His simply stated story has served as inspiriation for more than 9,000 men and women who have since followed in his footsteps... and many thousands more who have tried.





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