GetBackpacking! Weekend Quick Escape: Rock Castle Gorge


Need a quick backpacking escape to salvage 2020? Our Weekend Quick Escapes let you hike a short distance in full pack, set up a basecamp, then enjoy a full weekend of fabulous fall hiking.

Dates: Friday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 21

6 in stock


Rock Castle Gorge

Bemoaning the fact you haven’t been able to backpack much this year and worry that it’s too late to go now — especially if you’re not used to hiking with 30 pounds on your back? Well, bemoan no more: our series of fourth-quarter Weekend Quick Escapes returns in 2020, giving you the opportunity to hike a short distance (a mile, in this case), set up camp, and enjoy a weekend of daypack hiking!
Here’s the deal:
* We leave at 5 p.m. Friday, so you shouldn’t have to take time off from work.
* We drive to a trailhead that’s no more than two and a half hours away.
* We hike to a campsite that’s anywhere from a half mile to less than 3. (We’ll be to camp no later than 8 p.m.).
* We set up camp (yes, in the dark; it’s a good skill to have, and easier to learn in a group).
* Saturday, we have the entire day to hike. We’ll hike in day packs, returning to our basecamp at day’s end. Our Saturday hikes will be from 10 to 15 miles.
* Sunday, we do one more short hike before heading home. You’ll be home mid to late afternoon.

It’s the perfect option for backpackers who thought they didn’t have time to plan a fall backpack trip, let alone take one.

Our first trip: Rock Castle Gorge in Virginia. Here’s how this trip will unfold:

Friday, Nov. 19: We’ll leave the Triangle at 5 p.m. We’ll arrive at the trailhead to the primitive camping area at the base of the gorge around 7:30 p.m. and hike in the half mile or so on an old roadbed and set up camp.

Saturday, Nov. 20: We’ll take on the 10.8-mile Rock Castle Gorge Loop, hiking the trail counter-clockwise from the camping area. It’s mellow at first, then some sturdy climbing up to the ridge. Here, you’re rewarded with passage through ridge-top meadows affording great views, during the height of the fall leaf season, of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. After about four miles of rolling views, we descend down more challenging terrain into the gorge, where the 2.8 miles back to camp is on old roadbed above and along Rock Castle Creek. One of the most scenic hikes in the South.

Sunday, Nov. 21: We’ll pack up, be back to the trailhead by 10 a.m., then drive 40 minutes to nearby Fairy Stone State Park for a 5.3-mile hike on the Little Mountain Falls and Turkey Ridge trails, for more fall color.

Cost: $105


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