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Announcing the Shenandoah 52 Hiking Project & Challenge: 52 Trails, 23 Loops (start anytime)

Looking to get beyond the new year, new you, and change it up with more outdoor adventures? Are you finding yourself in a hiking rut and looking for new trails to hike? Does this sound like the start of an infomercial? This is where we say, look no further... that's right, 52 trail segments on 23 loops to be started ANYTIME.

You have arrived at your next challenge and we know you're up for it. The Shenandoah 52 ... someone queue up the Olympic anthem.

We've created a set of hiking trails for you to start small and take on a journey. We think you will be pleasantly surprised by what you can accomplish. And we'll be there with you every step of the way. The SNP52 is about you. Your health. And enjoying the amazing National Park right at our doorstep.

What is the Shenandoah 52?

A set of hiking trail loops in Shenandoah National Park, which are designed to be challenging, yet reasonable to accomplish over the course of 52 weeks. They span the North, Central, and South Districts of the National Park.

52 Trails

23 Loops

150 Miles

That's 23 trips to the National Park this year - You. Can. Do. That. Need a little "fitspo" -- let us know when you want to join us and we'll encourage you on the trek. Just shoot us a message on Instagram at Pixels and Pointers and we'll let you know when we're headed out. It's typically every Saturday ... #SNP52.

Why the Shenandoah 52?

Our brood needed a set of trails that would be challenging enough to carry us through the year, yet be reasonable enough to adventure on with a child under 1. We needed something a little more than the usual suspect trails, but less than the 500. Shout out to ALL that have completed the 500! So ... more than picking a trail, less than 511 miles.

How does it work?

Pretty much anyway that you want. There is no set start time. There is no set order. Our goal was to announce this to start 2023, so here we are.

But that doesn't mean you can't start it in the middle of the year, there is no reason that you couldn't make it a summer-to-summer challenge and so on.

  • Trails: The order on the page is North to South, some are off of Skyline Drive and others are accessed at the Boundary. You pick the order that fits your needs. Just because they have a sequence, doesn't mean that's the order you need to follow.

  • Rating: What's the rating on these trails? They each have a link to the map on GAIA GPS that outlines the length and elevation change. We'll go into this more below.

  • Resources: We'll continue to publish information about SNP52, however, we encourage you to look at the Pixels and Pointers Blog for hiking tips and useful resources.

  • Is there a Reward? We'll produce some merch, but for now, do it to be a little more healthy.

Why did we select GAIA GPS as the Platform for this Project?

This is our preferred platform to manage the trails and organize them in a way that can be shared with you.

We're big fans of GAIA GPS and no, it's not a paid advertisement <yet, wink, wink to GAIA>.

We'll continue to post more helpful tips and actual how-to resources for you in the near future including how we're going to organize our treks for 2023.

Shenandoah 52

It's time to get outside. This is your year to adventure into new places and experiences our National Park. And this is one way to do it.

So let's dive into it... As you can see, we've selected the loops that we believe are the best in the park based on ratings and our personal experience. Enter stage left = pretty colors on a map.

GAIA GPS - ALL 52/52 Trails

This is the master list - 23 trails, 52 segments. Within the list on the Shenandoah 52 Hiking Project page, we have listed a small "verified" next to the trails that we've hiked ourselves.

The good news is that we're embarking on them starting in 2023 AND we're going to build a documentary to support this initiative. Let's get into finding and looking through the list.

List of Trails

The details for the trails can be found in two places. The website has the master list and the GAIA website has the store for downloading to your phone.


Shenandoah 52 Hiking Project ( The landing page for the trails has a full list of 23 hikes, within this list, we have included the "Trail Name," "Segments" that connect the trails, and links to full "Maps" and GPS "GPX" files.

GAIA FOLDER (The Meat on the Bones)

GAIA GPS Shenandoah 52 - Topo Maps, Trail Maps ( The complete list of the maps exists on the website and is also stored on the GAIA website. You can download this to your phone.

What are the ratings on the trails?

Ok, so we have your interest -- but you want to learn more about what you would be signing up for. Good news, you can see the specific details on the GAIA GPS Shenandoah 52 page.

Each trail link has all the information about the trail. Remember, it's Shenandoah, so many of these trails start and end on Skyline Drive. So you will see some elevation change. But don't sweat it, you got it.

When you click on the Hike in the list, select the option for "ITEMS". This will show the trails that are listed in the folders.

What about specific information for each trail or trek?

In posts to follow, we'll deep dive into some of these topics, however, a quick tutorial on the key metrics for each hike.

  • Distance: This is straightforward -- we have hikes as short as 3 miles and as long as just under 10 miles in the set. Our plan is to get the lengthy treks out of the way before it gets too hot.

  • Ascent: This is the important one. Ascent is related to Elevation change. As you can see in the chart below, the graph shows the uphill and downhill throughout the trek. In this example, the first 2 miles will climb up approximately 1,500ft. Mind you, Little Devils Stairs is a mini-Old Rag with one of the best views in the part. So it's slow and it's doable.

GAIA GPS - Information About the Trail

How Do I Download The Maps to My Phone?

To get the map on your - download the files and save them to your mobile device and/or desktop (web) login. We'll post more resources in the future on best practices, and quick steps are as follows.

2. Go to the Shenandoah 52/52 Hiking Project ( website and select the "Download the Complete Maps"

3. This will launch the app on your device if you're using the mobile app. We suggest you start here since this will probably be the device that you'll have when hiking. Select the option for "SAVE" and this will copy the files to the "SAVED" folder on the bottom menu bar.

4. When you click on "SAVED" on the bottom menu, this will show the folder "Shenandoah National Park 52:

5. Inside that folder, there are ALL the segments that will be hiked (ALL 52) and the folder for "SHENANDOAH 52, COMPLETE LOOPS" - you'll need to scroll down. We'll post a direct link to the Complete Loops on the website (below too).

Get Outside!

We hope that this gets you started on looking at the maps, files, and where this challenge would take you. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts about we could make this easier. We'll do our best to update and provide everything you need.

For now, happy hiking!


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