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Ramsey's Draft - West Augusta, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
16.8 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

2 Days
3,170 ft with multiple ascents
George Washington National Forest
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Right into Mountain House Picnic Area cross concrete spillway, Park on right 100 yards up dirt road. 38.30828, -79.36090

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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Hiker Reviews For The Ramseys Draft Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Rating: 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.

By: JKS2013 Rating: 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.

By: BrianJB Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 20, 2013
Overall a great hike - did on a Monday/Tuesday, saw no one else on the trail until the hike out, and I had the Hiner Spring area to myself, along with lots of rain the first few hours. The ridge trail is a bit tricky to follow but in the end, remember - you're on a ridge, so you can't go too far off, right? Oddly enough, cell service (Verizon voice and data) along most of the first day as well, which allowed me to see that that thunderstorms I heard were indeed headed my way. . .there is also a lot of ascent that first day, so this one isn't for a first time out. The hike out along the creek is fantastic - very green, huge downed trees, very much a Pacific Northwest (or, for the geeks out there, Forest Moon of Endor) feel. Sadly, nearly all the hemlocks are dead but enough are still standing to get an idea of the truly majestic size they reached. Be warned the first mile or so is very rocky and slick (after rains, at least) so I, at least, didn't make the time I thought I would. I managed to stay dry with ankle-high boots until the last few crossings.

By: JKS2013 Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 10, 2013
As part of my journey into a mid-life crisis, I tackled this hike for literally the third time in as many weeks, each time making this a one day trip (although I would not recommend this to anyone who is not fully prepared for 17-20 miles of walking all at an aggressive pace. Hoping to start this hike at daybreak, I actually did not start until early afternoon and after the first few miles under sunny weather, the clouds quickly rolled in along with the rain. Taking a brief stop at Hiner Spring and noting the amount of water at that point, I decided to head down the draft instead of back along the spine of the ridge. Some thunder around me helped keep me moving and while the stream crossings the past two times were a breeze, the water was now up to knee/ mid thigh, so all hopes of staying dry were gone. About 2/3 down the draft (and with little light overhead) I came across a bear and three of her cubs (first time ever seeing them in the wild). After making my presence known and waiting a few minutes, I noted all the cubs climbing up a large Hemlock and I continued on my way. With the help of a flashlight and prior knowledge of the trail heading south, I made it back to the lot at 9 p.m. While I am in no way recommending this to a novice hiker or as a day trip, this has clearly become my favorite spot to hike (and where else can you spend almost an entire day in complete isolation?).

By: KnotHere Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
A group of 4 of us hiked this loop April 26-27. The 11 mile hike on the first day was the longest that 2 of them had ever hiked and we all enjoyed every step of it. I think as the last guy commented if I could rate this a 6 in difficulty I would. out of 5 is an exaggeration. This is a moderate 3. We covered the first day's 11 miles in 6 hours even with our many 'photo ops' and taking a break at the pond for lunch. The best part about the first day is that the scenery and trail is always changing so you never get bored. The rock scramble is a quick climb up a rock. A single rock. No repelling gear needed. The views are great since the trees have not leafed out yet. We also did not see any poison ivy as others had stated. We encountered only 1 other group who camped near the pond and was kind enough to leave trash everywhere. We packed it out for them. After that point, the trail description states 'moderate uphill for 1.7 miles' yeah, about that. It is more than moderate. After sitting down and eating it feels more like scaling mount Everest. You do loose the trail a few times but with some common sense you will pick it up by just stopping and looking around. Yes there are down trees but it only adds to the adventure. The trail comes to a 3 way junction at a new sign, make a hard left and after another couple miles uphill you can see the ridge you just traversed on your left then you will reach a clearing that is the Hiner Spring camping area. The spring was strong, cold and clean. We hung our hammocks and enjoyed the rest of the evening in peace with the exception of a few people looking for the Hardscrabble Knob trail. The next day we left camp in the rain and fog only to find a beautiful, mossy covered trail leading down to the draft. You will cross the draft 21 times!! We diligently counted to provide you with an accurate review. You're welcome! 2 of us wore Vibram Five Fingers the whole day and had no issues, those in boots found them full of water by stream crossing 15. All in all, this was a great trip and I would give it a high chance of going back with relatively new hikers.

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Early May

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