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Mills Creek - Waynesboro, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
14.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
9 hours over 2 days
George Washington National Forest
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Park at the Slacks Overlook parking area on The Blue Ridge Parkway. 37.90793, -79.05107

Mills Creek is one of four nice loop hikes in this area of the Blue Ridge, with Three Ridges, St. Mary's Wilderness, and Torry Ridge, and is the least hiked of the four. Mills Creek is usually flowing, and surrounded by grasses and ferns. As a backpack, there are two nice campsites halfway along the Mills Creek trail that are suitable for multiple tents.

This hike can also be slightly punishing in sections. The first days hike along the Torry Ridge Trail is undulating and can be rocky, then the second days ascent at the end of the Mills Creek trail is a tough 1.2 mile climb with over 1,100 vertical feet of gain.

From the Slacks Overlook parking area follow the trail on the right for 60 yards to the intersection of the Slacks Trail. Turn left towards the Torry Ridge Trail as it gently climbs for 0.9 miles where the Slacks Trail ends at the Torry Ridge Trail.

Turn right on the Torry Ridge Trail and pass several small vistas between the trees then arrive at the Blue Loop Trail in 1.9 miles. This terminus of the Blue Loop Trail descends down to Lake Sherando. Continue on the Torry Ridge Trail passing the other end of the Blue Loop Trail in another 1.0 miles. From this point the Torry Ridge Trail becomes more rocky then passes over Torry Mountain and reaches the intersection of the Mills Creek Trail in 1.9 miles.

Turn left on the Mills Creek Trail as it descends towards the valley. In 0.7 miles reach the next intersection. Turn left crossing a small creek and continue on the Mills Creek Trail where it will pass a small campsite and cross a larger creek in 0.8 miles. After crossing the creek the Mills Creek Trail reaches the valley floor.

Turn left on the Mills creek (a forestry road bears right). In 1.3 miles just before crossing Mills Creek for the first time there is the best campsite on the circuit on the right. Another smaller campsite is just up the trail on the left, again just before crossing Mills Creek.

For the next 2.9 miles the Mills Creek trail crosses the creek several more times as it gradually winds its way up the valley, then steeply ascends the right side of the valley making 8 switchbacks, and gaining over 1,100 feet of elevation gain in just 1.2 miles.

The Mills Creek trail will end at a clearing and small campsite with a decent view of the valley you just climbed. From here go out to the forestry road and turn left. In 0.3 miles the road will fork. Take the left fork. Continue for another 0.1 miles and look closely for the Torry Ridge Trail on the left. The trail sign is setback 50ft to prevent vandalism.

Follow the Torry Ridge Trail, passing several good vistas, as it descends back to the intersection of the Slacks Trail in 1.2 miles. Turn right on the Slacks Trail for the remaining 0.9 miles and Slacks Overlook parking area connector trail.

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Hiker Reviews For The Mills Creek Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Steven P Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 13, 2016
When I first read the reviews of this hike, I thought that the rockiness would be exaggerated. I was quite wrong. The Torry Ridge Trail sections are incredibly rocky, with parts of Mills Creek also containing some rocky parts. Be prepared to get your feet beat up and your ankles/knees twisted.

The campsites are very good and almost make the trip worthwhile. But even splitting this hike up into an overnighter, it was still a lot tougher than I envisioned. The steep climb on the second day is very punishing, but mentally rewarding. I would say if you're looking for an overnighter and want a good challenge, this is a fantastic hike for you. If you're looking for something of a more leisurely overnighter or dayhike, you might want to look elsewhere.

As one other commenter put it, the best description of this hike is: ROCKS!

By: Earl Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 05, 2015
The trail was nice and very quite. but poorly marked. as for the Torry ridge part cant say anything about that area I walked out to Torry mount road and then to Shenado lake, and finish on the white rock gap trail.

By: Ken D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 28, 2015
I thought this hike was okay if you want distance and solitude, but the walk along Mills Creek really isn't since most of the time you can't see the creek. Unlike others I didn't think the rocks along Torry Ridge were worse than other rocky sections on different hikes. There are a couple of stretches where you have to watch your footing, but otherwise it's fine. I actually thought the 1 mile section between the forest service road and the Slacks Trail was the rockiest. On the first leg of Torry Ridge I decided to drop down to the "rock overlook" for Sherando Lake at the first intersection of the Blue Loop. It was a nice view, but required a steep climb to get back on the trail. I counted 5 crossings of Mills Creek, three of which required fording as there were no rock hops in sight. I don't know what the normal water level is but the creek was running well today and at 30 degrees and with no spare socks in my pack it made for a squishy last few miles. The climb out at the end is pretty tough with the steepest section coming just before the top. I day hiked so my legs were pretty tired by this point. You do get rewarded on the final Torry Ridge section with a view of everything you just hiked and it's always nice to see how much ground you covered, especially on a long hike like this.

By: Steve Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 28, 2014
Very nice hike with a great camping spot on Mills Creek that splits the hike almost exactly in half. We saw surprisingly few people for a Saturday hike.

We went clockwise on the loop and it wasn't too bad of a climb. I agree with everyone else, Torry Ridge is very rocky, but other parts of the trail are nice. The trail narrows in parts to just barely wide enough for a person.

Bring a map, there are a few unmarked turns off of Fire Service Roads that could mess up your hike.

I would consider redoing this hike due to the excellent camping.

By: Joe Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Beautiful hike, the views form Torry Ridge down onto Sherando Lake is amazing. The campsite along Mill Creek was very nice. Strenuous is an accurate description of portions of the hike but only at times(the ascent to Bald Mtn). Overall it is a great hike with many beautiful vistas down from Torry Ridge and across the Valley as you ascend Bald Mtn.

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Early September
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