Located only 18 miles to the west of the A.T., Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, Harrisonburg, Virginia is a gateway to some of our country’s true national treasures. Harrisonburg is also just minutes from the famed Shenandoah River and is known as the sweet spot in the Valley for all levels of cycling. To the east you’ll find the North River Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest that provides even more opportunities to get outside and play! Harrisonburg was ranked nationally by Backpacker Magazine as a top spot for families to “beat nature deficit disorder.”
It’s no wonder why A.T. hikers and visitors love to spend time in Harrisonburg. Nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg is a trendy city filled with locally-owned restaurants, museums, art galleries and shops that connect historic downtown Harrisonburg to James Madison University.
With so many great outdoor recreational assets surrounding this beautiful city, the idea of becoming an A.T. Community felt like a perfect fit. It didn’t take long for a committee to form and to start working on their application, once they heard about this. The committee members include local government, small business, non-profit organizations, education and private citizens. Harrisonburg plans to invite A.T. hikers to be a part of many events in town. During their annual Valley 4th celebration, hikers are invited to participate in the parade. An annual group participates, recognizing the importance of the A.T., the city’s designation as an A.T. Community and A.T. hikers. All hikers are invited to walk in the parade wearing their hiking gear.
Thanks to involvement from Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members Mark and Betty Gatewood along with other volunteers, Harrisonburg plans to work with local youth on various educational and service-learning programs. In addition to further opening the doors to welcome hikers of all kinds from the Trail into the community for a respite and to experience a unique taste of Virginia culture, Harrisonburg hopes to be a part of the complete experience that leads so many people to strike out for America’s wilderness. It is the goal of the Advisory Committee to better inform and inspire local residents to explore the A.T.
Plan your Appalachian Trail adventure and Harrisonburg stay today! Visit the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center or request a free Visitor Guide.