Veach Gap - Massanutten MT
Beautiful views of the Shenandoah
Great Virginia Hiking Books!

St Mary's Wilderness - BRP, Virginia


Printable Topo Trail Map
   All Hikes Map
   Click for location shots
   Click for location shots
   Click for Parking/Start location
   Hike trail blazed colors
   Other trail

REI.com

 

Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
10.1 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
6.0 hrs plus a half hour for lunch
2,190 ft
15.5 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
9.0 hrs plus a half hour for lunch
3,110 ft
Links:
Resources:
George Washington National Forest
Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Steeles Tavern Weather Forecast
Graphic Precip/Temp Forecast
Current Weather Radar Loop (Java)
Garmin (GDB), GPS eXchange (GPX) (What's this?)
3D View of Route!
From:

e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
The parking area will be receded on a gravel road 70 yards from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
37.91163, -79.08680

A reclaimed old iron ore mining area, St. Mary's Wilderness has an abundance of diverse scenery from waterfalls, fern forests, open meadows, valley vistas, and high mountain wetlands, in Virginia's largest designated wilderness area. No wonder it's one of the most popular circuit hikes in the northern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Note: The trails in St Mary's Wilderness are no longer blazed.

Both Hikes:
From the parking area, start down the narrow trail just to the left of the bulletin kiosk (not the wider road continuing past the closed gate), and walk 150 yards to the intersection of the Mine Bank Creek and Bald Mountain trails. Turn left downward on the Mine Bank Creek Trail as it descends into the valley, crossing Mine Creek several times, then passes through a rhododendron area before ending at the intersection for the St. Mary's River Trail in 1.9 miles.

For The Additional 5.5 Mile Out/Back To St. Mary's Falls:
Turn left downstream on the St. Mary's River Trail passing several campsites before reaching the intersection of the St. Mary's Falls Trail in 1.9 miles. Note: There is no camping permitted beyond this point. Turn right upstream fording St. Mary's River passing several swimming holes before there is a blowout on the trail in 0.4 miles. Follow the footpath to the left of the blowout that leads around the blockage back to the trail. At 0.6 miles from the last intersection the trail appears to end at a cliff about 15ft above the river. Climb down, re-ford the river, and climb up a steep bank. The falls are just ahead from this point. To continue, retrace your steps back to the intersection of the Mine Bank Creek and St. Mary's River Trails. (Thanks to MRHyker for the St. Mary's Falls trail notes.)

Both Hikes:
If you did the out/back to St. Mary's Falls continue straight on the St. Mary's River Trail. If you are doing the shorter hike, turn right onto the St. Mary's River Trail from the Mine Bank Trail.

Shortly cross a creek before passing a campsite on the left in 0.2 miles. Continue along the trail for another 0.2 miles, cross another creek, then directly ahead over a small mound is a large group camping area. Stay right climbing steeply for 50 yards and pass another campsite before reaching the main St. Mary's River Trail intersection in 0.1 miles.

Turn left (turning right would lead the 0.1 miles back to the stream crossing you just made), and follow the trail as it becomes considerably more overgrown with rhododendron before climbing out of the valley. The trail will level out in 2.0 miles from the last intersection and arrive at the Green Pond area. There is a bulletin board kiosk on the left, and following the small trail on the right leads to a multi-tent camping area. Look for a small trail that leads to Green Pond here.

Return to the bulletin kiosk and continue on the St. Mary's River Trail and pass another pond view on the right in 50 yards, then arrive at what looks like a trail intersection. Continue straight and in 100 yards the trail will veer right. Continue for the remaining 0.1 miles on the St. Mary's River Trail where it ends at Forestry Service (FS) Road 162.

Turn right. Note: FS162 is open to motorized traffic. Be prepared to see 4x4 vehicles and dirt bikes. Follow FS162 for 1.2 miles as it descends then climbs to the high point of Flint Mountain.

150 yards from the high point on FS162 there is a Forestry Service side grade used to clear debris. Look for an unmarked trail on the left that in 100 yards goes to the best vista of the hike. The view is of Kennedy Creek, with Kennedy Ridge on the left, and Kelly Mountain on the right. Return to FS162 and turn left continuing to descend the mountain. Follow the forestry road for another 1.9 miles, passing several campsites with views before arriving at a split in the road.

Stay right and in 0.4 miles, just before FS162 bears left, look for a single post and unmarked trail on the right. This is the Bald Mountain Trail, and is not marked at the junction. Turn right onto the Bald Mountain Trail as it descends the valley and arrives at a small campsite at its low point in 0.9 miles. Continue as it starts climbing back towards the ridge, then arrives at an unmarked trail intersection in 0.9 miles from the campsite.

Stay right for another 0.2 miles back to the intersection of the Mine Bank Creek Trail. Turn left uphill for the remaining 150 yards to the parking area.

Interactive Hike Map Below Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in   Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left
Click the icons in the map below for location shots


Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the St Mary's Wilderness hike:

=
Hiker Reviews For The St Mary's Wilderness Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the St Mary's Wilderness hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2015
Well... I give this 4 stars because of the falls only. The rest of the hike isn't one I would recommend to the casual hiker out for a day hike. I backpack a good bit and was hoping for a more relaxing walk in the woods however, it was definitely on the semi-challenging side of things. Its not the worst by any means, but if you go in there expecting a casual walk in the woods, you'll be disappointed. Lots of water crossings, so I imagine if you go earlier in the year you'll spend some time getting wet.

My biggest complaint- The overgrowth, its obnoxious spending 90% of your day walking through a thin overgrown trail with bushes scraping at your legs and arms. The fact no one came away with a tick is surprising to say the least.

Wildlife- Saw fur and animal excrement in various locations. My guess would be bear, but I'm not an expert. Beware of Snakes, saw a pretty decent sized rattler in the middle of the fire road and another big snake on the trail (off to the side and it got out of dodge quickly).

The falls- beautiful, a bit challenging getting down there since everything is so poorly marked and we got a little lost coming back up. But, the falls are amazing. There was a large group of people there for the day coming in off the couple mile trail from the access road. Also, a number of people camp down here even though everything says they don't allow it.

Lastly- if you're going to the falls to have some beers and good time with your friends for the day. PLEASE clean up behind yourself and don't leave beers laying around.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 12, 2015
I wasn't anticipating how overgrown much of this trail was. Lots of brushy overgrowth, especially when hiking out to the Falls (which are very difficult to find, as this trail is unblazed and unmarked.) I was concerned about snakes and poison ivy—you can't even see the trail underfoot at times. This was a challenging 1-day loop WITHOUT an overnight pack the down and uphill slugs framing the hike are not to be trifled with.

The streams and falls are peaceful, but overall, there are so many more beautiful hikes in this area and within SNP for the time and distance.


By: Steve Sherpa Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 30, 2015
This was a wonderful hike...Rugged terrain and challenging. Other reviews make mention that they didn't like it because of this - it is a wilderness afterall. I will highly suggest a reliable gps and maps because the trails are unmarked and because of weather, some things are rerouted and some trails are unmapped or old "work" trails.

From the T section of st. marys trail and mine bank trail, one reviewer said it was 1.5 down to the falls. This is not true. It is much longer - around 3 miles or so. They may have been talking about the old trail from the big group camping site that has been mostly washed away. That would make sense to be 1.5 miles to the falls from those camp sites. That "trail" from what we understand, is climbing and hugging the bluffs and walking the river.

At any rate, be prepared for this hike as it is very rugged but wonderful.


By: Keith Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 08, 2015
Great info in this trail guide. I had a beginner with me on a weekend trip so we stayed in the river valley and didn't do the ridge loop. Holy Rattlesnakes! Close encounters with 2 timber rattlers that required bushwacks to avoid as they certainly stand their ground.

By: Roger Wright Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 11, 2015
We just did the short hike to the falls and back. It was beautiful weather and a great little hike. I brought my small dog along and he got his first swimming lesson. I will definitely be back to do this hike again. Nexty time I'll do the longer hike.

    View all 32 reviews for the St Mary's Wilderness hike
Late June
about us | home page | terms of use | © 2015