Oh Shenandoah!

Part Three: A Note on Shenandoah National Park
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Established by President Coolidge in 1926, Shenandoah National Park took ten years to complete. Most of the work was done by President Roosevelts's CCC; it was dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1936. The parkway Skyline Drive was also part of the original concept, and took eight years to complete. Beginning construction in 1931, the southern, central and northern sections were opened as they were completed (1939, 1934 and 1936, respectively).

Although the Appalachian Trail was first constructed in the 1920s and opened in 1929, much of the trail was relocated as Skyline Drive was built. The CCC was also put to work rebuilding the AT— note the laborious rock work that shores up much of the trail.

Anyone hiking long distance through the Shenandoahs is required to pick up a backcountry camping permit at the entrance station. The permit allows you to use the huts monitored by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), the group is also responsible for the maintenance of the trail in the Shenandoahs.

The history of the Shenandoahs—natural, geologic, cultural—can and does fill books. For additional information, books on the park are sold at the park's visitor centers. The flora and fauna of the park is varied and includes everything from black bear and white-tailed deer (the latter extremely prevalent) to the less often seen mountain lions and bobcats. Areas of intense defoliation have been caused by the gypsy moth (make sure this nasty pest hasn't attached itself to your camping equipment). The deer tick is also present in the Shenandoahs, so search your body carefully for this carrier of Lyme Disease. As for flora, everything from hemlock-hardwood forests to boreal forests can be found in the Shenandoahs. The tiny island of boreal trees is found at Skyland-Big Meadows, both of which you'll pass on this traverse. Flowers and flowering shrubs also abound, making the park a fairyland walk from late spring through mid-summer.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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