Appalachian Trail Histories


In 1939 the Appalachian Trail Conference issued guidelines to its member clubs regarding the construction of shelters (then called lean-tos) along the Appalachian Trail. The goal, as stated in this document, was to place shelters approximately 10 miles apart:

Such spacing avoids undue exertion for travelers carrying heavy packs and yet permits "skipping" a lean-to by more strenuously inclined traveler's for their day's journey.

The design of the lean-tos was to follow the general design of the Adirondack shelter: three-walled, with a steeply sloping roof, and a stone fireplace at the front that would radiate heat into the structure.

Collection: Trail Shelters

This two story shelter has space for as many as 20 hikers. Built in 1992, the shelter is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Leavell Garner, Jr. and was designed by his architecture school classmates. The shelter's costs were paid by Garner's parents, in memory of their son who loved hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Bryant Ridge BD123.jpg

Built in 1989 by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, the Campbell Shelter is just to the north of the very popular McAfee Knob.

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Dick's Dome Shelter is located in Sky Meadows State Park along the Appalachian Trail in Fauquier County, VA. Built in 1987 by Potomac Appalachian Trail Club member Dick George on what was private property, the shelter is a very small geodesic dome along the bank of Whiskey Creek. The PATC has built a replacement, Whiskey Creek Shelter, just up the hill from the old Dome.

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Sam Moore Shelter in Northern Virginia is located 3 miles south of the Bears Den Hostel on a portion of the trail known as "The Roller Coaster." The shelter has capacity for 6, a privy, fireplace, and sheltered picnic table. This shelter was built in 1990 by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Sam Moore Shelter.jpg

Built in 1960, the Harper's Creek Shelter is maintained by the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club. It is the only shelter within the Three Ridges Wilderness area and is several miles north of the Tye River in Nelson County, Virginia. 

Collection: Trail Shelters
Harpers Creek Shelter.jpg

Built by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club in 1965, the Fulhardt Knob Shelter is the last on the Appalachian Trail to use a cistern system for capturing and supplying water to hikers. According to the RATC, "This shelter is also notorious because it has been the on-again-off-again home for an otherwise homeless woman named Peggy who believes herself to be the deposed queen of England. She is, at times, belligerent and she leaves a lot of trash behind; but she does not appear to be dangerous."

Collection: Trail Shelters
Fullhardt Knob.jpg

Built in 1984 using the traditional design of open lean to stone and log shelters, Calf Mountain Shelter is located in Augusta County, Virginia, at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park. The shelter was meant to hold up to six people and is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. The Calf Mountain Shelter is built, in part, out of the remains of the Rip Rap and Sawmill Run Shelters, both of which had been dismantled due to over use.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Calf Mountain.jpg

The Cornelius Creek Shelter is located in Botetourt County, Virginia and is maintained by the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club. This shelter was built in 1960, making it one of the older shelters on this stretch of the Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Cornelius Creek.jpg

The Paul C. Wolfe shelter is located in Nelson County Virginia,It is maintained by the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Paul C. Wolfe Shelter.jpg

Built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Bearfence Mountain Shelter is located in Greene County, Virginia inside the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park. Maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the shelter is named after the nearby summit of Bearfence Mountain which has an elevation of 3,640 ft. The origin of Bearfence name likely came from a nearby pasture which was fenced in to keep bears out.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Bearfence Mountain.jpg

The Dave Lesser Shelter is the last shelter on the Appalachian Trail before northbound hikers reach Harpers Ferry, or the first they encounter south of Harpers Ferry. Maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the shelter is a three-sided structure with a very large front deck. There is also a picnic pavilion with a fire pit and a privy. Half a dozen tent sites are scattered along the slope below the shelter and the freshwater spring is .25 miles down slope. Relatively few thru hikers stop overnight at the Lesser shelter, largely because they are so close to Harpers Ferry, the psychological mid-point of their hike (the real half way point is 80 miles north in Pennsylvania near Pine Grove Furnace). The shelter was built in 1994.

Collection: Trail Shelters