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Rescehduled - Neel Gap to Cowrock Mountain on the Appalachian Trail: Easy D5 hike for D4+ hikers

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Byron Reece Trailhead   Hike: Rescehduled - Neel Gap to Cowrock Mountain on the Appalachian Trail: Easy D5 hike for D4+ hikers  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Mar 25 2023  9:00 am >> Sat, Mar 25 2023 3:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 7:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Tue, Mar 21 2023 7:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Mar 24 2023 3:30 pm
Event Duration:6 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:12 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Greg Pharo
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:10
Minimum Group Size:3
Number Registered So Far: 7 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


This hike will take us from the Byron Reece Trail to the Appalachian Trail and onward to Neel Gap and Cowrock Mountain. It's a relatively easy D5 event and is perfect for both strong D4 hikers looking to transition to D5, as well as for experienced hikers who want to enjoy a nice day on the AT.

Our adventure starts at the Byron Reece Trail parking lot, located just north of Neel Gap. Please arrive no later than 8:50 am so that we can start hiking promptly at 9:00 am (carpool leaver at 7:30 am from Mansell Road.)

Up we will go on the Byron Reece Trail, gaining almost 500 feet in 0.7 miles as we follow Shanty Branch Creek. We crest at the intersection with the AT, where we turn left to go "NOBO" (it's really more eastbound). Passing a nifty rock formation on the right, we descend to cross Highway 19 at Neel Gap (mile 1.6). There we'll find the Mountain Crossing store, a historic stone building constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp almost 90 years ago. It has portable toilets and has wonderful southbound views from atop Neel Gap. Continuing along, we'll head up Levelland Mountain at mile 3.2 where we can enjoy more long range views to the east and pause for a break. Next stop will be Wolf Laurel Mountain (mile 5.2), which offers great views. But the best overlook of all comes at Cowrock (mile 6.5), where we will have excellent views as we stop for lunch. After lunch we'll retrace our steps to Neel Gap and then hike down Highway 19 a short distance to return to the Byron Reece trailhead.

This is a 12 mile mountain trek with 2,800 feet of ascent. We'll travel at a moderate moving speed of about 2.5 mph and will pause several times to enjoy to views and hydrate. This event is suitable for strong D4+ hikers. It's a good transitional hike for D4 hikers who have been thinking about attempting D5 hikes, and it's also great for super-fit adventurers who are looking for a moderate-paced event.  If you don't have solid D4 or higher hiking experience with the AOC recently then the trip leader will contact you to determine whether this event is suitable for you. 

Required Items to Bring:

Sturdy hiking boots/footwear

At least 1 liter of water 

Raingear (just in case)



Gas money for driver, if carpooling

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Hiking poles


Warm clothes

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Click here for Google Maps location of the Byron Reece trailhead and parking lot.

For those who are meting us at the event, we are parking at the Byron Reece Trailhead. The parking lot for the trailhead is located on the left side of the road immediately after passing Mountain Crossing and the AT at Neel Gap on US-19.

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):128Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 7:30 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $51.20 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.


Click here for the AllTrails map of this hike.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.