The Ramsey's Draft Loop is beautiful with ridge line valley
views, springs and streams but is tiring with long
ascents and knob traverses on the 11.0 mile first day. Unlike
most ridge trails the Bald Ridge Trail is a long series of
ascents and descents of six knobs. It is 6+ hours of hiking
to one of several great camp spots anywhere from Hiner Spring
and below. Also note that some portions of the trails are hard
to spot and not well marked.
Start out at the end of the parking lot for 150
yards then turn right where a trail will cross Ramsey's Draft.
We needed to go about 50 yards upstream to find a low
water spot to cross. Follow the trail as it begins to ascend
the mountain for the longest steepest section of the loop as
it winds up to the ridge in 2.0 miles.
At the ridge turn left
as the trail you have been following now continues
down the other side of the mountain. Follow the ridge trail 4.5
miles (yellow diamond marked in places) as it crosses The Peak,
Bald Ridge Knob, The Pinnacle and Gordon Peak before arriving
at the next trail junction.
There is a small clearing with a trail coming in from the right
and pond to your left. Continue around the pond on the right
side where the trail continues uphill, then descends and in 1.7
miles arrives at the next trail junction.
Turn hard left at this junction and gradually ascend
for 1.3 miles to arrive at Hiner Spring. There are several good
camp sites here.
Turn hard left downhill staying to the left of the stream down
the valley (the trail does not become apparent for about 150
yards as it passes over rocks). In 0.3 miles you will pass several
great camp sites. Choose one for your camping spot.
Continue down the trail as crosses the steam and
in 0.4 miles turns more to the right. For the next
3.0 miles you will cross Ramsey's Draft several more times before
arriving at the intersection of the Jerry's Run Trail that comes
in from the right.Cross the draft again continuing down the
trail as it crosses back and forth several more times for 2.1
miles where you will arrive at the next rail intersection.
Stay left continuing next to the draft for the
remaining 0.1 miles back to the parking area.
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Reviews For The Ramseys Draft Hike (5 Most Recent)
This hike was... interesting. As a winter hike, it provides a number of obstacles, mostly streams, to overcome. I friend and I made it past the first stream after several minutes of plotting. We decided to get down to our underwear, wade across, dry off and continue on. Not the best plan, but it worked.
Overall the trail was everything as advertised in other comments. One or two nice views, beautiful streams, and ample solitude. It was also rather difficult. I'm a young guy who exercises often. It was a challenge, but not ridiculous either. Just enough to feel like you accomplished something.
All of this refers only to the first half of the trail. Somewhere along the way we got lost and we came out at a dirt road. Eventually we hitch hiked back to the parking lot (we were WAY off).
My only gripe is lack of signs. I'm still very green to hiking and I do take 90% responsibility for getting lost, but at major trail intersections, something would have helped a newbie.
Date of Hike: Friday, May 23, 2014
My friend and I just hiked this trail. We went up the ridge and over to Hiner Springs for the night. The hike was a bit tougher than I had expected however, I have not hiked in a while and am a bit out of shape. I think the 5/6 rating suits this hike fine. It's a beautiful hike, with various sceneries and divers flora and fauna. Luckily, we beat the crowd this memorial day weekend and we did not see anyone during the Friday hike (we got there around 1 and arrived at Hiner springs around 8. Since I am a herpetology enthusiast, we did stop to take pictures of beautiful timber rattlers and other reptiles and amphibians. There was no one at Hiner Springs and we had the whole campsite to ourselves. The water at the springs is spectacular. We were also met by 4 deer who just hung out at the campsite with us. The hike down Ramsey's draft was a bit difficult due to the fact that I was very sore, again, I'm out of shape! Crossing Ramsey's draft gets a bit harder as you go along due to the fact that the stream starts getting wider and wider. If you don't mind getting your feet wet, then it's no problem. It is important to note that there are many fallen trees along the trail, some of them pretty big. The trail sometimes gets hard to find both on the way to Hiner springs and on Ramsey's Draft trail. You just have to pay attention and you'll find it eventually. In conclusion, do not let this hike fool ya, it is a tough hike especially if you plan on doing the whole loop. Regardless, it is worth it. I recommend this hike if you are into various ecosystems, Virginia's native fauna and flora, beautiful sceneries, and combining it with a workout!
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 27, 2014
I did this hike as a two-day backpacking trip. Day 1: The first day of hiking was mostly along the Bald Ridge Trail which, as it's name implies, is along a ridge. There were some good views from there, especially looking off to the east, although some of those views will undoubtedly be blocked in the summer once the trees have leaves. Instead of camping in the upper reaches of Ramsey's Draft or in the Hiner Spring area, I took the Ramsey's Draft trail northwest away from Hiner Spring until I got to the junction of the Ramsey's Draft, Shenandoah Mt., and Tearjacket Trails (~1 mile from Hiner Spring off the topo map for this hike, but see the Shenandoah Mt. hike described elsewhere on this site). There is a nice spring in that area and nobody else was camping there so it was perfect for me. The trees haven't leafed out yet and it was close to a new moon so the stars were spectacular last night. Day 2: Easy hike from camping area back to Hiner Spring, with a worthwhile detour to Hardscrabble Knob. Nice views from the top. The trip down Ramsey's Draft itself is pretty, especially at the upper end of the canyon. In a way, it is also a sad hike with the many dead and dying hemlock trees serving as evidence for how awesome the canyon must have looked prior to the wooly adelgid killing the trees. As noted in the trail description, you will cross the draft many times. I was able to get across most crossings by hopping from rock to rock and there were only a few locations where the water over those rocks came over the toes of my boots. I didn't overtop my boots or need to change into water shoes at all, but that's not to say that the water isn't higher at other times of the year. There were several groups of boy scouts out in the woods, a group of 6 people +1 dog, a couple of guys, and one fellow doing minor trail maintenance. Most of the time, it felt like I had the place to myself. I'll be back.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2013
Two others and I hiked this over memorial day weekend. When we approached the parkeing lot we were concerned about the traffic on the trail because of the all of the parked cars. Dont let this fool you, there are numerous trails and from what we could tell most people are not going up via the bald ridge trail. My buddy brought another guy with him and we are all pretty experienced hikers. This is not the hardest hike, however it is tough. The 11 miles up to hiner spring is pretty much straight up except for the last mile and half or so (after you take the left to head to the spring). When we arrived at hiner spring we saw one of the most pristine and beautiful backcountry campsites any of us had seen(we have seen a lot). Unfortunately there are some shorter routes to the spring and these routes provide easy access to these campsites and they were taken by some campers by the time we got there. I will say that the 11 miles to the spring pretty much wore us out so we did not make the extra trip to hardscrabble knob for the view (in hindsight we should have). We continued down Ramsey's Draft trail to find a small campsite followed by a little bit larger one right by the draft, we camped at the second site. The hike out in the morning is pretty much straight down off the mountain and relatively easy. Also this is where the majority of the creek crossing are so if you dont have water shoes you should be okay if you get a little wet as you will be on your way out. We had no problems finding the trail either. We noticed a number of other suitable campsites along the way that would be pretty easy to if you wanted to hike in this way and set up camp with the wife and kids. If you have kids bring them to Ramseys Draft, while the draft crossings will be a little challenging (make sure you check the weather) my buddies and I beleive the scenery and diverse fauna will make for a lifetime of memories for them. One last thing the views hiking up to the spring are not that great in the Spring or Summer because of the leaves.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2013
With this the 5th time to the Wilderness area in as many weeks, I wanted to maximize my distance with this day hike, starting off at the Mountain House parking lot at 6:30. Three hours of a brisk pace brought me to Hiner Spring (my normal stop on the route as it is one of the few spots where I can get a cell signal and send out the "I'm okay" texts- yes, I recently received a spot and plan to activate as one of my weekend tasks). With the water level around the spring very calm, I made my way up to Hardscrabble Knob, only pausing for a few moments to enjoy watching a large buck crossing the forest in front of me. While I normally head back down the draft, I decided to continue through to the Shenandoah Mountain trail south to the Road Hollow trail heading back to the parking lot at the south end of the wilderness. The total loop around the wilderness took a little over 7 hours and I enjoyed the day without seeing anyone until I got back to the car (when I arrived, there was no one else- when I prepared to leave, the lot was full). For anyone looking for a trail that provides ever changing terrain, great places to camp, and the sheer joy of isolation, I highly recommend this location for a weekend outing.