Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Spring — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: A medium length trail with historic artifacts of previous inhabitants along the way. This trail has a great endpoint at the AT Pass Mountain hut with a picnic table and pit toilet.
This trail makes for a medium-easy hike through somewhat open woods, a section of which is overgrown pasture. This hike heads into the North District of the park, but because the parking area is on the south side of Thornton Gap the trail technically falls in the Central District area.
From the south end of the upper parking lot take the AT Access-Panorama
connecting trail from the turnaround to the white-blazed AT and turn right. Head through an overgrown clearing and cross U.S. 211. Continue, crossing Skyline Drive, toward the start of the trail which continues as a dirt road heading to the right.
Around a half mile from Skyline Drive, as the dirt access road makes a tight turn to the right, look for a large dark water tank down to the left. This tank used to store water for the former Panorama development. Beyond this turn, the white-blazed AT quickly joins the road and then heads off to the left. Continue along on the dirt road.
From this point on, you'll begin to see traces of the former residents of this area such as old road traces and pioneer species of trees, which suggest areas where the vegetation has been cleared.
A little more than a half mile from the white-blazed AT, the road passes a grassy clearing on the left, where there used to be a homesite. A tenth of a mile beyond this clearing, the Pass Mountain Hut Trail
connects the road on the left from the AT. Continue along the dirt road for another 100 feet or so to the Pass Mountain hut, which has a picnic table and fireplace. As you approach the hut, look for the spring beyond it to the left. There is a pit toilet to the right.
Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this trail description. If you’re interested in learning more details about great hikes, weather, camping / lodging, wildlife, and scenic drives, check out the comprehensive Guide to Shenandoah National Park