Distance: 9.2 Miles
Hike Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
Starting off where we left off on our last Northbound hike of the AT, we continued toward the Washington Monument (not the one in Washington DC). The “original” Washington Monument was first built in 1827 and is located near Boonesboro, Maryland within Washington Monument State Park.
This is an average length (for a day hike) section at 9 miles, but it’s very flat and not terribly rocky. The only major climbing is at the very end from Old National Pike to the Washington Monument. Even then, it’s a fairly easy climb.
We walked at a leisurely pace, took a few short breaks, and still finished in under 4 hours. We could have easily extended this section a few more miles to US 40 (just past I-70).
We started a little late, but I was shocked at how scarce the parking was at Crampton Gap and the Washington Monument.
Since it was the off-season, Washington Monument State Park did not open until 10am so we had to park about a mile South next to the Old South Mountain Inn. Some of the parking spaces are reserved for the Inn so make sure to park in an unmarked spot. Parking at Crampton Gap was more abundant, but there were still plenty of cars there before 10am. It was a very nice day for the first week of Spring so a lot of people were hitting the trail.
I wish we looked around here a little more, but it was such a nice day we hopped on the trail right away. If you are into history (especially the Civil War) then it’s worth checking out many of the structures at Crampton Gap.
North of Crampton Gap there are somewhat less Civil War fortifications than the previous section. I managed to get one picture of an old stone building before we entered the forest.
Along this section of the AT from Crampton Gap to the Washington Monument there are two shelters:
Crampton Gap Shelter – a short distance North of Crampton Gap
Rocky Run Shelter – South of Reno Monument Road
In addition to the shelters, Dahlgren Backpacker Campground is farther North close to Old National Pike (Alt US 40). Dahlgren has a few more amenities like showers and bathrooms (a luxury for thru-hikers). In between the two shelters is Bear Spring Cabin. It is located near the White Rocks Overlook around the mid-point if this section.
Unfortunately we did not detour to see any of the shelters/cabin. Other than the Dahlgreen Campground which is right off of the trail, we just passed by the signs.
There are two good overlooks along this section: Whites Rocks Overlook and the iew at the Washington Monument. There was one more unnamed overlook South of White Rocks with an obstructed view.
Civil War History
Much like the previous section to the South, the Battle of South Mountain occurred at several points near the trail on South Mountain..
There is a monument for General Jesse Reno where the trail intersects Reno Monument Road marking where he was killed in battle. He was apparently wounded during the night from friendly fire (which probably happened a lot during the war). I can’t imagine what it was like to fight a battle at night in 1862.
Flora and Fauna
Despite good weather, it was still a little early to see a lot of activity. Some plants were starting to bud but it was still the first week of Spring.
Date: March 27
Weather: 50-60F, partly cloudy
Hiking Companions: Dave, Josiah, and Chris