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Staying at Corbin Cabin in Shenandoah National Park

"A historic cabin in the wilderness.  That may be a cool place to hike to .... Wait, we can rent it?"

In mid-August the river here looks like a creek.
We've done quite a few one night backcountry camping trips.  This time we thought we'd try two nights.  As the time drew closer, I was dreading it.  I like hiking but as I say to my husband, "there is just so many trees I can look at."

I went in search for a hike that would at least keep my interest.  I came across one with a historic cabin from 1910 in Shenandoah National Park.  When I learned we could rent the place, I was excited.  One night was available during our trip days. I took it.

The Cabin:

The cabin is situated on a river that my kids loved jumping from rock to rock exploring what they could find in it.  Although August, the water was icy cold and the air was brisk.  My husband grabbed a saw from the cabin and went in search of wood that we could have a fire that night. 

There is no electricity in the cabin so the fire was useful.  We were all surprised at how little light the fire gave off.  The fire in movies seemed to light up the entire room.  Nonetheless, we were able to play card games and I read my book - an electronic book.  Yes, I brought electronics, but I wouldn't have been able to read without it.  It was dark. :)

Our dog was not too keen on the house.  He paced and could not seem to settle until we were in our beds.  (Btw, the mattresses are locked in a cage to keep the mice out.)

The next morning, my husband and I stood outside facing the cabin. I remarked how this house was probably built at the end of the pioneer life, where you can just go out, cut down some trees and build a house. No architects, no permits, no inspections, pretty remarkable.

Final assessment, I'd go again but for a longer stay next time. 

Corbin Cabin

Destination: Corbin Cabin - dogs allowed.

Background:  The history of the cabin is inside it.  It was built by George Corbin. (The info in the cabin said in 1910, Wikipedia says 1909) in what is now known as Shenandoah National Park.  When the National Parks took over the land, he and his family were eventually forced out.  Some years later the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) renovated it and the National Parks system gave them permission to rent it.

How to Rent:  From the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club or PATC (
We were lucky that they had an open day when we traveled.  I understand that it can take months to get a reservation.  $45/$30 Thurs-Sat/Sun-Wed, making reservation 3-12 months in advance $90/$60.  So, you get a discount if you wait till the last minute - on the other hand reservations fill quickly.

What to bring:  Corbin Cabin has pretty much everything you need to live primitively, except the food.  Although they have a wood stove and fireplace, we brought our camp cooking gear.  We also brought our own sleeping bags.  I also highly suggest insect repellant.

How to get there:  It's in Shenandoah National Park.  We parked at the Corbin Cabin parking and hiked down the steep Corbin Cabin Cutoff Trail.  Not too bad going down but it's an impressive hike coming back up.  My dog even tried to turn around.  There is parking on the outside of the park and you can reach the cabin by Nicolson Hollow Trail, a less intensive hike.  We chose inside Shenandoah since we were hiking for two nights and I figure our car will have a better chance of still being there when we got back. :)

Best time to stay: Weekdays, it's quieter.  You may get hikers coming up to the cabin thinking it is a historic site and not realizing you can rent the cabin.


  1. It looks positively idyllic and the price is certainly right. I did have a moment of unrest about the dog not being settled. I've clearly watched too many horrors featuring a cabin in the woods. Then I thought of the mice and other wildlife that was no doubt on the dog's mind.

    My family does a variation on the theme (new cabins but very basic) in Brighton State Park. When we stay there I can always paint, a good sign that I'm very relaxed. :)

    1. I would imagine the smells made him uneasy too - he's a beagle. The place where we slept is a newer part of the cabin. Still about 40 years old but not over 100.

  2. My husband has been wanting to rent one of these cabins out for awhile - I think there are others you can rent too, but I may be wrong. It looks very peaceful!

    I also thought the same thing about the dog not being settled and I too may have watched too many horror films!!

    1. Yes there are several in Shenandoah National Park and a few outside. There's a huge one in Harper's Ferry but you have to be a member. May be worth it. I asked my hubby if he's up for another hike to a rental.

  3. What a wonderful spot. I love hiking and camping, but I haven't thought about renting a cabin out there on the Shenandoah. What fun that would be. I'll have to keep it in mind for some future trip.

  4. That sounds like a great place to spend a couple of nights.

  5. I don't know how I would cope without electricity. I guess you get to be resourceful and discover new things about yourself.

  6. This is my great grandfathers cabin and I love reading hikers blogs to see how much they enjoy it. Thank you for your respect of the cabin and the wonderful blog about it! I hope one day I can hike back down there and enjoy it as much as everyone else does!

    1. How cool is that! Yes, we loved it so much we're thinking of going back this summer. There was another cabin across the river, you family's perhaps?

  7. We are hoping to get down there this fall! The cabin across the river was owned by a Nicholson. But from the research I have been doing, they were all pretty much family down there. I hope to see more pictures if you decide to go back down! :)

    1. Yes, that's right I remember now. His first wife is buried on that side from childbirth and he had to travel into town to get milk for the baby. I was amazed when I read that. I can't imagine what that was like, to get yourself together after you're partner's death and have to take care of a new life that you barely know. I wondered how he took care of that child. Do you know? I'm sorry if I keep hounding you - it's a fascinating story. You can ignore me if you'd like :)

    2. I am sorry that I haven't responded to this. I didn't see it until now.
      I know at first, he didn't know how to care for her and had family members watch over her for some time. He was married again after that, but never had anymore children. I was too young before my grandma died to appreciate the history that we have, so I wasn't able to hear any stories from her. But my mother has told me many and I have been researching online.
      I have been trying to see what shape the cabin is in now, but there haven't been any hikers posting pictures of it recently. If you find your way back down there, I would love to see pictures!

    3. We were talking about going there this summer. Alas, it's a very busy summer this year so we'll have to see if we can squeeze it in. It's so dark in the cabin, I will try. This cabin is in good shape but the one across the way is in ruins.

    4. Annie - I will be there this weekend and can take pics of it inside and outside. There are several online that I have found but will be sure to take as many as I can.


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