Jenkins Gap/Hickerson Hollow Circuit

Description: This is a pretty arduous but rewarding hike in the northern section of SNP. It can be done either as a moderate 7.5 mile loop w/ a 1500 foot gain in elevation or a strenuous 12.2 mile “lollipop” circuit with over 2000 feet of elevation gain. There are views both east and west from Compton peak although the west view is by far the best. There is another vista as you leave the park on the AT and a nice lunch spot at the Tom Floyd’s Wayside. A one mile road walk will bring you back into the park on the Hickerson Hollow Tr along a picturesque stream of the same name. If you opt to do the shorter loop but still want to take in the views on Compton Peak add a 2mile out-and-back at the beginning or end of the trek for a total distance of around 9.5 miles.

Google Custom Directions

If doing the shorter loop follow Skyline Drive to about Mile Marker 10.2 and park at the Compton Gap Parking Lot on the left. If doing the entire trek continue past mile marker 12 and park at the Jenkins Gap parking lot on the west side of the drive.




Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users


Trail Notes: For the long version start at the Jenkins Gap Parking Area. Follow a spur trail a short distance to the junction with the white blazed AT. Turn right on the AT and follow it for 1.2 miles to a concrete post marking a 4X intersection.

Take in the views and then continue to follow the AT as it switchbacks down to Skyline Drive in 0.76 miles. Cross the drive into the Compton gap Parking area. This is the start of the shorter hike.

The continuation of the AT is a fire road blocked by a park gate at the back of the lot. Follow it north. In about 0.24 miles, cross the junction of blue blazed Dickey Ridge trail. (This is part of the return leg.)

In another 0.28 miles pass yellow blazed Springhouse Road on the left. For the next 1.14 miles the AT will carry dual blazes, yellow and white. (Yellow is the designation for hiking and equestrian trails in SNP. I think this is the only section of the AT in the park where horses are allowed.) At the end of this section the AT will turn left onto a footpath and leave the park. Shortly after passing a through hiker registration kiosk arrive at Possum Rest Overlook. The road in the distance is Rt522.

Descend steeply down from the overlook and soon cross an old woods road. In 0.4 miles after crossing the woods road arrive at the Tom Floyd’s Wayside.

After lunch at the wayside continue to descend on the AT through a series of switchbacks. There will be two blue blazed spur trails to the left that lead to campsites and a spring and eventually back to the wayside. Turn left onto a third blue blazed spur trail. There is currently a sign propped up on the base of a tree noting the way to Rt601. Follow the spur trail out to the road. It breaks out through an old stone wall behind a house. (According to the PATC map the trail is supposed to go back into the woods around a pond to the right. We found the pond but not the trail.

 If anyone finds it please send us a description and/or photos. They will be included here with proper attribution.) If you cannot find where the trail reenters the woods simply follow Rt601 down past the 2 vehicle parking area and final terminus of the spur trail to Rt604.Turn left onto Rt604 and then make another left onto Hickerson Hollow Rd. This will become yellow blazed Hickerson Hollow Tr as it enters the park. Say " Hi!" to a rather friendly horse at the Promised Land as you walk up the road.

The trail initially follows the run. Shortly after it fragments into many smaller streamlets the trail veers away from the hollow and climbs up to Skyline Drive reaching it at 1.17 miles after reentering the park from below.

Turn left onto the shoulder of the drive. Take about 3 steps and immediately turn left onto yellow blazed Dickey Ridge trail. Climb steadily for about 0.6 miles to the junction of Springhouse Rd on the left. The yellow blazes will follow it while you and blue blazes will continue to the right on the remainder of Dicky Ridge Tr. Gradually descend another 0.6 miles to the AT on what now seems to be a woods road, passing Fort Windham Rocks (Geologically interesting) on the way.

Turn right on the AT and retrace your earlier steps back to your cars regardless of your starting point.

An Addendum by Geoff Patton: "You requested help with finding the way around the pond for the above-mentioned hike. I have included a pic showing some fairly new blue blazes conveniently placed right as one exits from the breach in the stone wall. Follow the gravel road up the slight incline and a few other blazes will lead up and behind the pond, down to the left of the Private Property sign. If people have a dog with them, be careful of the yard dogs at the house on the right. They are nasty. Also, as you come out onto Rt601 and proceed down the hill to Rt604, a white house up on a hill to the left has a large tan dog neighbors warned us can come charging to challenge any passing dogs. We grabbed sticks to carry and the dog only came down after we passed but the neighbor said the dogs frequently challenges him and his dog."

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

 Critique this outing




Name: Bryan                                                                                                            Hike: Jenkins Gap/Hickerson Hollow
Date: 9/24/11                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: A great hike! Very strenuous climb on the return. Didn't see the friendly horse, but did get to meet Chocolate, the friendliest dog ever! She would have hiked with us if her owner had let her.

The intersection that leads to the spring and campsites, you actually want to take the blue blazed trail to the right (not left as indicated). That will lead you to the pond.

Thanks to Michael for updating the map! Very helpful.


Name: The Tick                                                                                                         Hike: Jenkins Gap/Hickerson Hollow Circuit
Date: 12/23/2010                                                                                                   Rating: 3.5

Critique: I did this hike on a very cold and windy day with the entire trail covered in snow. Skyline Drive was closed at mile marker 5 for some reason even though we proceeded into the park without a problem. We then drove out of the park and did this hike from the other side of the loop from Rt 522 where the AT intersects it. Probably about a 12 mile loop as the lariat was on a different side with the interior loop identical. The hike was fine for what it was. No real views to speak of and the road walk was a low point. the trail up Hickerson Hollow after the road walk was long, steep and slippery with an iced over trail. We saw only one person on this hike who for some reason was setting up his tent before it was even 2:00. Tom Floyd Wayside was a lot of fun and well maintained. The spring was nowhere near the shelter though. I would probably not do again. The only tracks we saw all day were animal tracks and it appears the trail is well used by a wide variety of animals. By choosing the other side of the AT as our approach, it seemed the trail was 3/4 uphill, if that is possible but it sure felt like it on the hike.


Name: Ryan Shaw                                                                                                    Hike: Jenkins Gap/Hickerson Hollow Circuit
Date: 7/22/2007                                                                                                     Rating: 3.5

Critique: I did the shorter 7.5 mile version.  This was a decent hike and my first in Shenandoah.  The highlight was the sighting of a black bear crashing through the forest on the way down to Floyd's Wayside.  The only part of the hike that I didn't like was the walk on 601 and 604.  Also, the shorter version of the hike lacks vistas, with Possum Rest Overlook being the only notable view.  I would recommend going for the longer version if you have the time.

Also, I would classify the smaller 7.5 mile loop as strenuous because of the climb out of Hickerson Hollow.


Name: Michael Eckert                                                                                             Hike: Jenkins Gap/Hickerson Hollow Circuit
Date: 8/18/06                                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: A very nice hike with several moderately strenuous sections. The hardest was the climb out of Hickerson Hollow back to Skyline Drive.

I think I found the "missing" trail.  There was an overgrown trail about 200 feet up from the break in the rock wall.  It broke off to the right. I went down the trail about 50 feet, but it was very overgrown and did not feel like bushwhacking, so I hiked back out and through the rock wall to Rt. 601. When I got to the 2-car parking on Rt. 601, there was a trail on the other side of the road that seemed to line up nicely with the other end.  This trail would go behind the first house on the right and the pond.  I think you have this marked as the blue line on your map with mileage at 0.26 miles.

Great views from Compton Peak overlook to the west as I ate lunch.

I found it amazing that I did not see one person on the hike until I got back to Compton Peak overlook.  That was at mile 11.

My hiking this summer indicates SNP is extremely under utilized by citizens of this area. It's a shame more people don't get out away from the daily grind.


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