Virginia Wilderness Survival 101 & Hiking the Triple Crown
All Trips thru September are Confirmed! Let’s Go!
Find your bold on this Wilderness Survival Training & Hiking in Virginia weekend workshop for women only! Slay the most iconic summits on the Appalachian Trail—Dragon’s Tooth, Tinker Cliffs, McAfee Knob (known as Virginia’s Triple Crown)—as you earn your survival skills badge in Catawba, Virginia. Between hikes, learn basic hands-on wilderness survival training skills from emergency bug-hunting to fire-building in the rain.
Hiking in Virginia
First, kick off your adventure on Thursday with arriving to our lodge in the woods in the late afternoon. Your feet won’t be settled for long! Throughout the weekend, you’ll be completing the follow hikes, which all add up to the Triple Crown!
Dragon’s Tooth Hike
Gear up to tick off the first jewel in the crown: Dragon’s Tooth. It’s the shortest of the three hikes, but the most exciting. Scramble up rocks and via ferrata-type ladders to reach the summit and the huge monolith stretching to the sky on the summit. Feel daring? Climb up the monolith for 360 degree views of the valley below and all the bragging rights.
Tinker Cliffs Hike
The next morning, embark on your hike with the most elevation gain: Tinker Cliffs. It’s a beautiful hike, taking you across a field where you’ll be able to stare way up to our goal. Trek through the “Green Tunnel” with a gnarly steep section. Then, connect with the Appalachian Trail to reach the summit. Then you get to kick back, break out that sandwich, and bask in the view of the next day’s summit: McAfee Knob.
McAfee Knob Hike
Saturday evening, we’ll hit a mall walker’s stride as we jump on the trail to catch one of the best sunsets. The hustle up the mountain is totally worth the burning quads as you rest your hiker booty and kick your legs off the edge of the world on McAfee Knob. There’s a reason why it’s one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail. (And, one of our favorites!)
Wilderness Survival Skills Training
On Saturday morning, we’ll take a short hike to our outdoor classroom. Here, we’ll spend the day learning and practicing wilderness survival skills. You’ll want to grab a notebook and a pen to scratch down some notes. Throughout the day, learn a variety of knots, how to construct a few types of wilderness shelters, how to start and feed a fire even in the rain, and which bugs are the tastiest for eating! 🦗 Yes, it is completely hands-on. You will be building fires and shelters all with a supportive group of like-minded, fun women.
Backcountry Personal Self Protection
On your final day in wilderness paradise, learn hands on Backcountry Personal Self Protection. During this hands-on course, gain these necessary survival skills:
- break free from a stranger’s hold
- recognize the signs of threatening behavior
- learn to use objects you carry in your day pack as a weapon
You’ll be able to practice in a supportive environment with a “Red-Man Suit” while learning a proper palm strike, finger fan, knee jab, knee strike, and blocking moves. KA-POW!!! We’ll say goodbye Sunday afternoon, after refueling our bodies during one last delicious lunch at our Mountain Lodge.
Beautiful Mountain Lodge in Catawba, Virginia
Each night, rest your head at a beautiful lodge nestled in Catawba, Virginia. It lies at the base of the mountains surrounded by woods without another trace of humanity in sight. Call it home for a few days, with freedom to stretch your legs on the lawn soaking up the sun after hiking, sharing stories around a campfire, or knocking back a few beers in the communal area. And, food! Your dinners and breakfasts will be home-cooked goodness served up on a plate! (Don’t worry! Bugs are optional and not on the menu!)
It’s a wonderfully wild weekend with a small group of women hiking in Virginia along the Appalachian Trail and learning wilderness survival tactics. Over the course of a long weekend you’ll quickly grow close with your posse of Explorer Chicks as you hike the trails and share memories of summits. Join us to experience this small-group women’s only hiking weekend yourself!
- Enjoy the views from three of the most iconic vistas on the Appalachian trail on these daily, challenging hikes in Cawtaba, Virginia: McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon’s Tooth.
- Learn crucial wilderness survival skills in an outdoor classroom with hands-on experience and practice.
- Gain confidence and independence learning the Seven Priorities of Survival including building a shelter, starting a fire, tying essential knots, and hunting for edible insects.
- Feel empowered in the wilderness with a hands-on Backcountry Personal Self Protection course learning basic defense moves with a supportive group of Explorer Chicks!
- Kick back after your adventures next to a campfire at our Lodge nestled in the woods at the base of the mountains.
- Relax with a comprehensive itinerary that makes the logistics, transportation, navigation, meal planning, lodging, and everything in-between easy.
- Geek out with supportive and encouraging Explorer Chicks on a private, women-only, small group adventure tour.
- 4 Days/3 nights in shared occupancy bunk room accommodations in a mountain lodge. Rooms contain 4 bunk beds, but only shared by 2 women.
- All meals from Day 1 Dinner to Day 4 Lunch.
- Private Explorer Chick Shuttle service daily to and from the trail heads.
- Daily guided hiking in Virginia to: McAfee Knob (8.63 miles/1,643 elevation gain); Tinker Cliffs (7.7 miles/1,945 elevation gain); Dragon’s Tooth (4.5 miles/1,103 elevation gain).
- Hands-on, immersive wilderness survival training instruction tailored for Explorer Chick.
- Backcountry Personal Self Protection course with hands-on instruction tailored for Explorer Chick.
- A commemorative Explorer Chick shirt.
- A detailed Travel Guide upon booking with everything you need to know for your trip.
- The freedom to enjoy your vacation and mindlessly wander!
- One experienced Explorer Chick Leader ensuring your trip is seamless and unforgettable!
- Small Group experience! Your Explorer Chick Adventure is exclusive and limited to 11 women.
*Packages do NOT include your airfare, airport transportation, alcoholic beverages, Explorer Chick guide tips, or costs for additional activities.
*Does NOT include your Explorer Chick Guide’s Tips – Tipping your Explorer Chick Guide is optional, but customary. If you wish to recognize your Explorer Chick Guide for exceptional service, we recommend you tip a total 10-25% of your trip costs.
*Explorer Chick reserves the option to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your tour director as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, or other unforeseen incidents.
You will receive a Travel Guide attached to your booking confirmation with all the hotel and all the information you’ll need to prepare for your epic trip!
Your adventure begins and ends at our lodge in Catawba, VA.
Day 1: Plan to arrive promptly in Catawba between 3- 4pm EST on Day 1.
Day 4: We’ll wrap up weekend after lunch. Plan to depart after 1pm.
The nearest airport is Roanoke (ROA) which is approx a 30 minute drive time.
We require a minimum of 5 Explorer Chicks for this trip. Please confirm your trip is guaranteed before booking your airfare.
For trips in April – September
Arrive between 3-4pm
We will jump right into our first hike with a departure time at 4:30pm.
For trips in October – November
Arrive between 1-3pm
Days are shorter in the Fall, we will depart at 3pm so we can catch the sunset!
Daily Hiking in Virginia
During your survival skills and hiking adventure, you will complete the Triple Crown — an experience that features some of the best hiking on the AT in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Dragon’s Tooth (4.5 miles/1,103 elevation gain)
- Tinker Cliffs (7.7 miles/1,945’ – Approx 6.5 hours)
- McAfee Knob (8.63 miles/1,643 elevation gain)
We highly recommend training prior to your adventure. The itinerary is packed full of hiking. You should be comfortable with hiking up to 9 miles in a day carrying a light day pack with elevations gains up to 1,945 feet.
You should be training on rough and rugged terrain – not perfectly paved sidewalks. Also, find steps, a hill, or the StairMaster and get to climbing! Your quads, booty, and calves will thank you.
Train your tootsies! Do not show up with brand new hiking boots or trail shoes. You should be spending hours upon hours in your boots leading up to your adventure to break them in. Better to suffer blisters at home than to miss out on a hike due painful hot spots on your feet. This is our number one injury. Don’t let it happen to you!
Explorer Chick prides itself in curating trips for women who live an active, healthy lifestyle. What this means is we tackle the big climbs, the long trails, the bucket lists, and the uncomfortable. To get the most from your adventure we recommend having a solid fitness base with training on trails in a variety of weather conditions and hill/stair climbing. Train how you play!
Please consider your ability to meet the physical demands very seriously. It is for the safety of both you and our group. All Explorer Chicks will be required to sign an Acknowledgement of Physical Demands as part of their waiver upon booking.
Be Prepared for your trip
Still not convinced that THIS is the adventure for you?
We’ve rounded up some of our most popular blog posts, so you can get to know us a bit better and learn what really goes down on your Explorer Chick Adventure.
- Remember How it Feels to Play
- You are NOT Alone
- The Power of Explorer Chick
- What Does an Explorer Chick Look Like?
- We are ALL IN
- We Do Dumb Stuff
- The Explorer Chick Purpose
- The Traveler vs. the Tourist
- 6 Benefits to Booking with a Tour Company
You can always reach us by email with more questions! Info@ExplorerChick.com
To protect your travel investment and your hide, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. World Nomads is our trusted travel insurance provider. Receive an no-hassle, online quote in less than 2 minutes.
Save $200 with our Early Bird Discounts!
Just book at least 6 Months in Advance! Discount is automatically applied.
Non-Refundable Deposit: $200 due at booking to secure your spot
Payment Plans are Available!
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org after booking to set up an automatic monthly payment plan.
- OR make your own custom payments in your Explorer Chick account (Created after booking).
Kristin W.June 29th, 2017
I went on the Virginia survival trip in June 2017 and had the best time! I had not gone on a trip since having my son and being able to hang out with such a diverse group of women was a renewing experience. The trip was well organized, the hikes were beautiful and the partnership with the survival school was a one in a kind experience. Being able to bond with women from all over the country with different life experiences was more than I expected or hoped for in this trip…as well as eating some delicious bugs!
TheresaApril 30th, 2018
Well Nicki and Explorer Chick have done it again. Great trip to Virginia for hiking and survival training. The group was lively and fun, ranging in age from young chicks to the more experienced variety. Beautiful hikes through the mountains and part of the Appalachian Trail and the bonus hike on Cascade Falls. Survival training was great. Learned a lot about knots, signaling, shelter, first aid and PMA. The positive mental attitude is the most important of the seven survival priorities and Explorer Chicks are the epitome of PMA. Outstanding weather made the mountaintop views even more amazing. Couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Thanks Nicki and Explorer Chicks. You Rock! Literally LOL
Carrie HamelinkJuly 16th, 2018
This trip was awesome! Every hike brought you to the most spectacular view, the women were so fun and encouraging, survival school taught me so many great things…. I could go on and on. Take the leap and book that trip ladies! You will not be disappointed.
Celeste HollenseadJune 21st, 2019
I cannot even begin to describe how the Virginia hiking and survival 101 experience exceeded my expectations. I was incredibly impressed with the efficiency and timeliness of each day of the trip as a means of maximizing all activities. You could tell that our guide, Becca, really took everyone’s goals for the trip to heart and did whatever she could to assist us.
Everything from the brewery outing to the survival school training with Dina was impeccable. My favorite trips are ones in which I stay active and learn new things. This was the perfect trip for that! I plan to practice what I learned from the trip (both personally and practically) to continue to fuel the flame of confidence ignited by the whole 4 days.
Lastly, I am so appreciative of the other explorer chicks that were part of this experience. Talk about a group of incredibly intelligent, hard-working, and badass women! It was wonderful to share and discuss life experiences, have a laugh, and take in the world around us all while hiking to and from some of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
Thank you Explorer Chicks for what you do for women each and every day!!
KristenOctober 11th, 2020
The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience. I made 10 more FABULOUS new “frainds” and couldn’t have asked for a better setting- Dina (my idol!) taught us the basics of survival and helped us build an incredible confidence in our ability to make it on our own in both good and bad situations in the great wild. I can’t wait to practice all of my new skills for my next adventure and I’m already on the waitlist for NOLS Wilderness First Aid class in November with REI.
BrandieOctober 12th, 2020
Easy doesn’t change you. 25 miles later, a bear spotting and lots of blisters and sore muscles, I did it! My goal for my 30th was to do a solo trip while doing something new and challenging and this past weekend I did that! I can say without a doubt that this weekend has been the best adventure ever. I have learned so much about myself while also being able to meet amazing, strong women who shared their stories with me and motivated me all weekend on our hikes! Thank you to all the wonderful new friends I met this weekend, can’t wait until our next adventure!
Lana JacobsenApril 26th, 2021
I originally signed up for this trip to satisfy the Wanderlust I had developed over Covid times. I ended up coming away with so much more than that. I have been reflecting on this since the trip ended (about 36 hours ago) and every time I think about all I have gained I start to tear up. I got to experience amazing hikes that were iconic, gorgeous and challenging. I got to learn skills from our knowledgeable host and guide (Dina – amazing person!) that I know will be building on for years to come. I got to learn self protection skills that were relatable and actionable in my everyday life and lastly but most importantly I got to connect with a group of women and get to know them and their stories very well over the few days we were there together. I really feel that we were all meant to be there together, to learn from each other and support each other. Kimberly was our guide and she was just amazing. I find her so inspiring and she was such an energetic, positive, motivating and hilarious force throughout the whole weekend. This will be my first of many trips with Explorer Chick 🙂