Trail Mix – Coed Adventure
Here’s a little taste of everything you need to hit the trails with confidence! This energizing course is your chance to push yourself on challenging day hikes with big rewards, while learning key outdoor skills in a supportive environment. Create your own custom blend of experiences: try out hammock, tarp or tent camping; or enjoy the comfort of our lodge at the end of the day. Let the breathtaking views and campfire camaraderie fuel your hunger for adventure!
What to Expect
Hiking the Virginia Triple Crown
This section of the world-famous Appalachian Trail includes three iconic overlooks, each of which can be reached via a vigorous but rewarding day hike. Enjoy the exhilarating views and earn major bragging rights by summiting all three peaks back-to-back.
Dragons Tooth: The first jewel in the crown is the shortest hike, but the most exciting climb. It’s 2.3 miles to the crest of Cove Mountain (4.6 miles round trip), but that includes the most rugged mile on the A.T. in Virginia. 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. There are sweeping views to enjoy from the foot of this mountaintop monolith, but the bravest hikers keep scrambling to the tip of the Tooth, for the full 360-degree panorama and an unbeatable “top of the world” sensation.
McAfee Knob: The crown jewel of this series is McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. While this is the longest hike – about 8 miles round trip – it’s also the gentlest since we’ll start at higher elevation. Two A.T. shelters and a series of rock formations keep things interesting as you hit your stride on this continuous climb. Finally, emerge onto a dramatic rock ledge that offers a 270-degree view of the idyllic Catawba Valley below, and mountains beyond. Don’t worry, we’ll save plenty of time to snap photos of your favorite pose on the famous diving board rock, or just dangle our feet and savor the open space.
Tinker Cliffs: This hike is a lesser-known gem, but it may be your favorite. Starting out in the heart of the valley, an easy stroll across fields and creeks soon intensifies as you take on a steep climb with over 200 log steps. The effort pays off when you wind through house-sized boulders to find yourself atop a mile-long limestone bluff high above the Catawba Valley. With a breathtaking view around each bend, the challenge is deciding where to take a photo or claim your own special spot to soak in the majesty.
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).
Students can choose to overnight in a tent, hammock, or grab a bunk in the lodge. Loaner gear such as tents, hammocks, and sleeping bags are available, so this is a great opportunity to try something new or test out your own sleep system.
- 4 days/3nights
- Survival training
- Hiking prep
- Shuttle service
- All meals included
- Memories to last a lifetime
- Small group (6 maximum)
- Hands-on experience
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. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking to take your skills to the next level (while checking off some world-class hikes), a novice hiker just getting your bearings, or somewhere in between – you’re sure to learn a lot and enjoy the journey.
Have your own? Bring it! Don’t have your own, or want to try something new before you buy it? Use ours!
Start each day with a hearty, homemade breakfast, and choose from a range of options for a packed lunch to enjoy on the trail. Back at the lodge, enjoy a homemade dinner with dessert around the campfire (from classic s’mores to Mountain Shepherd’s famous dutch oven peach cobbler).
This is your adventure! You may choose to fully embrace the experience by spending the night in your own tent, or you can borrow a tent, tarp, or hammock from us. It’s also totally fine to sleep in a bunk in the lodge. The choice is yours.
Your adventure begins and ends at the Mountain Shepherd Lodge in Catawba, VA.
Day 1: Plan to arrive promptly in Catawba between by 9:30 am EST on Day 1. If you prefer to come in the evening before, you can stay at the lodge. $50 includes a bunk and breakfast. $25 for each additional person in your group. Group, semi-private and private rooms are available. Contact us for reservations. Payment due before you leave.
Day 4: We’ll wrap up the adventure after lunch. Plan to depart after 1pm. The nearest airport is Roanoke (ROA), which is approximately a 30 minute drive time.
Moderate to Strenuous
During your survival skills and hiking adventure, you will complete the Virginia Triple Crown — an experience that features some of the best hiking on the A.T. in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Each hike is an all-day (5-8 hour) adventure for most hikers.
- Dragon’s Tooth (4.5 miles/1,103’ elevation gain)
- Tinker Cliffs (7.7 miles/1,945’ elevation gain)
- McAfee Knob (8.63 miles/1,643 elevation gain)
We highly recommend training prior to your adventure. You should be comfortable with hiking up to 9 miles in a day carrying a light day 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.
Do not show up with brand new hiking boots or trail shoes. You should be spending hours in your boots leading up to your adventure to break them in. Better to suffer blisters at home than to miss out on a hike due to painful hot spots on your feet. This is our number one injury. Don’t let it happen to you!
Please consider your ability to meet the physical demands very seriously. It is for the safety of both you and our group. Got an old injury, or another concern giving you pause? We’re happy to discuss the details of each hike and your personal situation to help you figure out if this adventure is for you.
What to Pack
- Seasonally appropriate clothes:
- Good fitting and broken-in hiking boots/shoes
- Hiking socks (wool or synthetic recommended)
- Active T-shirts (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.
- Water Bottle – fresh drinking water for refills provided
- 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 (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.