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Spy Rock - Nelson County, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
3.1 mls N/A
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1.5 hours plus a 1/2 hour for lunch
1,260 ft
George Washington National Forest
Montebello Camping and Fishing Resort
The Cabins at Crabtree Falls
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Stay on Route SR 690 until the last Hatchery Building and then bear right onto a small gravel road with a sign for parking and Spy Rock. Park at the rear of the Fish Hatchery on SR690. Google maps directions for this last section are inaccurate. 37.84191, -79.13126

Spy Rock would be a great hike to do after hiking Crabtree Falls as it's just a few miles up VA56 from Crabtree Falls near Montebello, VA. Our original intent was to map this as a day hike and continue on the A.T. to The Priest Shelter and camp the night. Deep snow (1 to 2 feet) prevented us from continuing so we spent the night at Spy Rock There are plenty of good campsites here but no water sources. Two feet of snow in the winter does not count as a reliable water source!

We also did this hike in May so there will be photos from then plus photos from our snow hike. The views from Spy Rock are spectacular (360 degrees) giving you a great view of the Religious Range: The Priest, The Little Priest, The Friar, The Little Friar, and The Cardinal. This is a short hike but well worth it to see the views from Spy Rock.

From VA56 turn onto SR690 to the Montebello Fish Hatchery. A small parking area for hikers is available beyond the hatchery buildings (follow the sign). From the parking area cross the road towards the yellow road barriers and head up this uneventful fire road, with occasional blue blazes for 1 mile until you reach the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) intersection. The fire road looked nice in the snow but during normal times it is your basic fire road. In about 0.5 miles the road bears to the left with a very unique tree to your left, keep your eyes open.

At the A.T. intersection take a left towards Spy Rock which you will reach in 0.6 miles. There is a short Spur Trail to take you over to Spy Rock. A little bit of scrambling , winter view, is involved to reach the summit. This is a short hike but well worth it to see the views from Spy Rock, late Spring view. As an overnight backpack in better weather I'm sure the sunsets would be great from the top of Spy Rock.

HikingUpward Note: We hope to be back in this area to map out a 2-3 day shuttle A.T. backpack from the Montebello Fish Hatchery to Reeds Gap near Wintergreen, our original intent with this hike.

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Hiker Reviews For The Spy Rock Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Sam Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
My boyfriend and I enjoyed the hike and the views. However, because of how rocky the trails are, I wouldn't recommend bringing along dogs.

Ours tore up their pads and almost couldn't finish the trail. I think if we go back we'll be strapping some doggy boots on their paws


By: A 911 Dispatcher Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 28, 2015
This hike while not boasting many amazing views from the get-go was pleasant once getting out of the private property drive...After working a 12 hour shift all night and hiking at 7 am it was admittedly a little difficult given there weren't any breaks in incline for the first mile and a half or so but the sight at the top is well worth it. I definitely plan to hike this either early in the morning or evening when the sun rises/sets if not both. I'd recommend to anyone who wants a good view and exercise!

By: TwoDachshunds Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 31, 2015
We did this as a lunch-time hike with our two dachshunds. After reading the reviews about the rock scramble at the top, we were a little worried the dogs wouldn't make it but figured we would give it a shot and get as far as we could. The scramble wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it would be and the dogs did great (with a little bit of assistance). We spent about an hour at the top enjoying the view before we made the trek back to the parking lot.

There is a great camping area near the top of the trail that we plan to enjoy next time we make this trip. Overall, the hike was very enjoyable with outstanding views (the pictures really don't do it justice).


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Please respect private property when parking and hiking up to Spy Rock. I did my weekly hike up past Spy rock and found evidence of camping fires on my property. Two weeks ago, the parking lot got so filled up that some people drove past the yellow gate and parked in one of the land owners driveway (blocking the driveway). If the lot is full (which happens fast on a weekend), please park down at the Fish Hatchery. The popularity of this hike is great but the downside is the amount of traffic. If you see someone parking outside of the parking lot, driving above the yellow gate, or camping anywhere along the trail all they way to the saddle, please politely remind them that the entire area is private land. Thanks!! Please enjoy the hike.....

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
My girlfriends and I have decided every Wednesday to pick a different location to hike. 4/22/15 we chose Spy Rock. For us, the fire road was relatively steep, but very well maintained. Our problem came when we got to the "unique" tree. As stated, from coming up the fire road, the tree is on your left, but there are 5 different trails leading off when you reach the tree. After heading up different paths (finding a few "Private property" signs, and a few tree stands), and not seeing many markings, we would turn around, and come back to the tree. We finally chose a path, and we saw the blue blazes. Follow those blue blazes for awhile, and you will finally come to the intersection with the AT. GO left. The AT from there was one of the roughest parts of the AT I have ever seen. When you finally get to Spy Rock, we couldn't find the path that led to the top of the rock, so we did a little rock scrambling. The view itself was definitely rewarding with the amazing views, but it was so windy and cold, we didn't stay long. The views are worth it, but the hike itself was very rocky, and we wasted a lot of time trying to find the correct path coming from the fire road.

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