Strickler Knob - Massanutten MT
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Spy Rock - Nelson County, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
3.1 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
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)
Review the Spy Rock hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 21, 2014
Must emphasize what previous hikers have said: the road past the hatchery to the AT parking is BAD. Drive slowly and watch for larger rocks to avoid. The trail is very much upward most of the way, so be ready to catch your breath frequently if you haven't been hiking regularly. It is not a very stimulating hike visually until you get to th top. Awesome views everywhere you look! And yes, the Tye River vistas on the drive up are fabulous in late winter early spring. This was my sister and my first trip to Spy Rock, and we loved it. Snow still on trail and mountains.

By: Jim Moyer Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 25, 2013
My daughter and I did Spy Rock for a Christmas Day hike and it was outstanding. With 23 degree temperatures and no wind, the 360 degree panorama was jaw dropping. It was a bit of a challenge to scramble up to the top, as there was plenty of ice in several places, but once we found a good line it was uneventful. Definitely a personal favorite even after 40 years of rambling around in the eastern mountains.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 25, 2013
We took two cars and parked one at Crabtree before starting our hike at the Spy Rock parking area. We hiked to the top of Spy Rock and spent about 15 minutes enjoying the views before continuing up the AT towards Crabtree. This portion of the hike was excellent...relatively flat or downhill except for a couple of uphill portions with a couple of good views that would probably be more difficult to appreciate when the leaves are on the trees. We hung a left at 826 to the Crabtree Meadows trailhead and walked to the falls where we had lunch. The overlook there was sunny but once we headed down the trail it definitely got colder. The falls were nearly all ice and absolutely spectacular. Total length was about 8.4 miles.

By: Jay Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 27, 2013
My buddy and I decided we would go for an overnight hike to spy rock this weekend, and it was absolutely wonderful. We each had about a 35-40 pound pack. It was pretty rough on the way up as we stayed at a decent pace the whole way up. The path is pretty bland, but with the leaves beginning to change the sights weren't bad by any means. We saw a few woodpeckers, small game, and another group behind us saw a black bear cup on the way up. Once to the base of the rock, we made camp. There are a few great places to put a tent and fire pits are already built up, chimney style to push heat in a certain direction and protect from wind. Once we got camp all set we scrambled up the rock. If you are day hiking, I would definitely advise leaving your pack at the bottom of the rock while you go to the top. The view at the top is so beautiful I couldn't even begin to put it in to word for you. You just have to do go do it and see it. Awesome hike. I would definitely advise it to anyone. Saw groups of all ages over the weekend.

By: Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 04, 2013
Nice hike. It was cloudy when we started off. Started pouring by the time we reached the top. So, couldn't really see the vistas. The last bit of rock scrambling was great. Access to parking lot is crazy. It's one lane off road for two way traffic!

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