Peak Performance – Coed
Take your backcountry skills to new heights as you summit three of the most popular peaks on the Appalachian Trail – McAfee Knob, Dragons Tooth, and Tinker Cliffs. This 3-day, 2-night adventure traverses the famous Virginia Triple Crown, a 30-mile section of the A.T that is packed with scenic beauty and opportunities to develop your backpacking skills. Our skilled instructors will help you embrace the challenge and reach your personal peak performance!
What to Expect
Backpacking the Virginia Triple Crown
Join other adventurous folks to discover the seven survival priorities while you explore the nearby Appalachian Trail. The adventure starts with trip preparation at Mountain Shepherd, including a review of the survival priorities and an introduction to the basics of backpacking. Along the trail, you’ll develop new skills with hands-on practice and pro tips from your expert instructors. You’ll return to the “frontcountry” with skills, confidence, and memories to last a lifetime!
Transportation to and from the trailheads is provided, and personal vehicles will remain safely parked at Mountain Shepherd Adventure School during the trip.
Please note that this trek covers approximately 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail, much of which is steep, rocky terrain. This Mountain Shepherd adventure is ideal for participants who have some backpacking experience or, at minimum, significant day-hiking experience over very difficult terrain.
This section of the world-famous Appalachian Trail includes three iconic overlooks:
Tinker Cliffs: This mile-long limestone bluff high above the Catawba Valley offers a breathtaking view around each bend. As the most remote of the three “jewels”, it’s easy to find your own special spot to soak in the majesty.
McAfee Knob: The crown jewel of this section is McAfee Knob, known as the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. The dramatic “diving board” rock ledge offers a 270-degree view of the idyllic Catawba Valley below, and mountains beyond.
Dragons Tooth: The final summit requires the most exciting climb. We’ll scramble up a series of rock walls to reach the Dragons Tooth rock formation: a massive 35-foot spire of quartzite towering high above the trees.
Each night, we’ll camp at designated campsites with water sources nearby. Pack your own shelter, or test out a new system by borrowing one of Mountain Shepherd’s tents, hammocks, or tarps.
Hike Prep & Survival Training
Throughout the adventure, we’ll help you get your hiking gear in order–whether you’ve already got your system dialed in and are ready for a few pro tips, or are just starting to figure out what to carry. Mountain Shepherd has a wide array of loaner gear you can try out, plus expert guidance on planning your own safe and successful adventures.
But the most important thing to carry is the right skills and knowledge to make it through those worst-case scenarios. Get ready to level up with our Wilderness Survival Training! You’ll get hands-on practice with field-tested techniques to build an emergency shelter, start a fire in the rain, find water, signal for help, and more. Whether or not you ever find yourself in a situation where these skills save your life, you’ll be ready to take on new adventures with confidence (and impress your friends and family when you tie the perfect knot or whip up a campfire in no time).
- 4 days/3nights (first night frontcountry)
- Survival training
- Backpacking prep
- Shuttle service
- All meals included
- Memories to last a lifetime
- Small group (8 maximum)
- Hands-on learning
Mountain Shepherd reserves the option to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your tour director as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, or other unforeseen incidents.
Who chooses this adventure?
This adventure is for adventurers who are ready to challenge themselves in a supportive, small-group environment. Due to the challenging nature of the terrain, this course is not for the truly novice hiker. Some experience backpacking, or at least completing strenuous day hikes, is required. Beyond that, all experience levels are welcome – even the most seasoned long-distance backpacker is sure to learn a lot and enjoy the journey.
Participants must be at least 18 years of age if attending solo. Mature 16 & 17-year-olds may attend if accompanied by a responsible partner over the age of 18.
Have your own? Bring it! Don’t have your own, or want to try something new before you buy it? Use ours! From shelter systems to stoves to sleeping bags, we’ve got everything you need aside from clothing and well-broken-in footwear. Find details on the packing list below, and reach out with any questions. Never fear, we’ve got the gear!
All meals and snacks are provided, both on-trail and at Mountain Shepherd, with plenty of options and dietary accommodations available. Fuel up with hearty home cooking while at the Mountain Shepherd lodge, and let us help you pick out the best lightweight snacks and meals to carry on the trail.
Each night, we’ll camp at designated campsites with water sources nearby. Pack your own shelter, or test out a new system by borrowing one of Mountain Shepherd’s tents, hammocks, or tarps. *The first night will be spent indoors at the Mountain Shepherd Lodge.
Your adventure begins and ends at the Mountain Shepherd lodge in Catawba, VA.
Day 1: Plan to arrive in Catawba by 12:00 pm EST on Day 1.
Day 4: We’ll wrap up the adventure in the early afternoon.
The nearest airport is Roanoke (ROA), which is approximately a 30 minute drive time.
This trek covers approximately 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail, much of which is steep, rocky terrain. Each day of hiking covers roughly 10 miles, and many sections of this trail feature rapid elevation change in the form of challenging uphill climbs and tricky downhill descents.
We highly recommend training prior to your adventure. You should be comfortable with hiking up to 12 miles in a day carrying a 25-pound pack with sustained uphill climbs.
You should be training on rough and rugged terrain – not perfectly paved sidewalks. Live in a flat area? Find steps, a hill, or the StairMaster and get to climbing to build the right muscles for this adventure.
What to Pack
- Seasonally appropriate clothes:
- Good fitting and broken-in hiking boots/shoes
- 2-3 pairs of hiking socks (wool or synthetic recommended)
- 2 sets of undergarments (wool or synthetic recommended)
- Active T-shirt (synthetic or merino wool recommended–avoid cotton)
- Lightweight insulating top layer (a light, long-sleeve synthetic fleece or wool shirt, sweater, or jacket)
- Second insulating top layer (an additional synthetic, wool, or fleece shirt, jacket, or vest)
- Consider a third, heavier insulating layer such as a puffy jacket or thicker fleece
- Rain jacket (hood and ventilating zippers recommended)
- Hiking pants (durable, quick drying synthetic pants are ideal)
- Bottom base layer, e.g. midweight synthetic or merino wool long john pants
- Warm winter hat and gloves or mittens
- Your favorite trail snacks.
- Personal toiletries and medications.
- Water bottles/hydration bladders (2-3 Liters)
- Any hiking gear you already own that you’d like to use. No need to buy anything for the adventure, we’ve got you covered. Could include things like:
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Knife – fixed and/or folding blade
- Signal Mirror
- Cooking pot and utensils
- Notepad/pen and reading material/luxury item (optional)
RESERVE YOUR SPOT
NOTE: Once you purchase your course, you should automatically receive our registration form in your email. If you don’t see it right away, please check your junk folder.