Hoover Camp || Shenandoah National Park

Hoover Camp Shenandoah National Park
Presidential Main Quarters Known as the Brown House.

Late Saturday evening I decided to go to the mountains for a hike. I was looking at getting some mileage in and figured I could find a hike around the 10-mile mark. Digging around the house I grab my PATC map of the Shenandoah National Park Central District (Map 10)  and my PATC guidebook for Circuit Hikes In Shenandoah National Park.

On page 67 of the guidebook, I spied Hoover Camp which gave me a route of 9.9 miles and 5 hours. Great, never hiked this area!

When I arrived at Shenandoah National Park I could not have asked for better weather. Temps on the mountain was 61 degrees. That sure does beat the heatwave that we seem to have had for weeks now. Big Meadows and the Byrd Visitor Center is a great places to run a base of operations for day hikes. For this hike, the trailhead starts across the road from Big Meadows Wayside.  

The trail is Rapidan Road which is a gravel road that cuts through the Big Meadows. You could spend a day just hiking the spider web of trails in the meadow. Great place to see deer and all kinds of birds. About a mile down Rapidan Road will be Horse Trail on your right. This would be my return route from Hoover Camp. I follow Rapidan Road as it descends to the Rapidan River Valley.

Hoover Camp Shenandoah National Park

I do a quick map check and see both Rapidan Camp and Hoover Camp and I know I need to start back up the mountain.

Hoover Camp Shenandoah National Park

The road looks like it goes up forever...

Just a little way up the fire road I run into one of the trail markers that have Rapidan Camp on it. The first picture of this post is what I saw at the end of that trail. I figured I was at one of the PATC cabins.

After checking my map again to see how far up the trail Hoover Camp was, a guy came around the deck of the cabin cleaning up the area. I asked him was Hoover Camp up the course? He told me this was Hoover Camp...

OK now, things are not looking right. I know where I was on the map.. but the signs are telling me something different...That's when he tells me that this was part of the Rapidan Camp. So when I found out that this guy cleaning up is an NPS Volunteer and has been a volunteer at Hoover Camp for 9 seasons. 

Here's a link to the Park Service website about the camp

Hoover Camp Back of main BLDG

The Presidential retreat sits at the junction of Laurel and Mill Prongs. These two creeks create the headwater of the Rapidan River. The President's cabin known as the Brown House has been restored to what the cabin looked like in 1929. 

The NPS volunteer did a great job giving a tour and talking about the history of the camp and of President  Hoover and the First Lady. Stopping at the camp was a great part of this hike and I am glad he took his summer off to do this. It took about an hour to take the guided tour of the camp.

I picked up Horse Trail to get back to Rapidan Road and then about a mile to the start point.

With no planning, this turned out to be one of the better hikes that I have taken in the park. Maybe because it had both history and hiking in one trip. 

References: PATC Map 10 Central District and PATC guidebook for Circuit Hikes In Shenandoah National Park. 

Note: This hike will take 4.5 hours (this doesn't count for lunch or the tour if they are being given) and an elevation gain of 1320ft.

Navigate over to our other related articles on hikes in Shenandoah National Park


Popular Posts