Three Ridges is one of Virginia's most popular backpacking circuits. Situated in Central Virginia, just 30 miles southwest of Charlottesville, the hike has vista after vista along the Appalachian Trail, and many small waterfalls and pools on the Mau-Har Trail on Campbell Creek.
From the parking area at Reeds Gap, head south along the white blazed Appalachian Trail (AT) as it initially hugs the left side of a clearing. At the end of the clearing start climbing Meadow Mountain, and in 0.8 miles arrive at the top of the ridge and campsite/overlook.
Continue along the AT as it now heads downhill, and in 0.8 miles arrives at the Maupin Field Shelter, and intersection with the Mau-Har Trail that will be your return route. The shelter is not visible from this intersection, and is 100 yards downhill. Several small trails intertwine this large camping area.
At the intersection remain left, staying on the AT as it passes a small clearing. The AT will now climb and pass over Bee Mountain in 0.5 miles. Descend Bee Mountain, then climb the northern knoll of Three Ridges and arrive at the best vista of the hike.
Continue up the AT as the trail traverses the ridge before reaching the top of the second knoll in 0.8 miles, and view to the northeast. Look for an unblazed side trail on the left marking the overlook and campsite.
The AT now heads downhill from the hike highpoint, and in 0.1 miles stay right a the trail marker. Descend another 0.2 miles before making a switchback to the left. At the switchback there is another overlook. After making the switchback the AT will descend steeply for 0.8 miles, then pass around the left/north side of Chimney Rock. A faint unblazed trail ascends steeply for 25 yards, then passes around the left side of the summit to the Chimney Rock overlook.
Continue downhill on the AT for another 1.8 miles as the trail descends to the right/south of Three Ridges, then arrives at the main camping area and Harpers Creek Shelter.
Turn left downhill on the AT (opposite side of the creek from the shelter). In 0.1 miles the AT will turn right crossing Harpers Creek before heading uphill, and reaching the intersection of the blue blazed Mau-Har Trail in 0.7 miles at a small pass on the ridge.
Turn right on the blue blazed Mau-Har Trail, descend, switchback up the next ridge, then descend again and reach Campbell Creek and large camping area in 1.5 miles. There is a yellow blazed spur trail that leads downstream to a small pool and waterfall in 200 yards.
Continue upstream on the blue blazed Mau-Har Trail as it becomes steeper, crossing Campbell Creek, and making several switchbacks before arriving at Maupin Field Shelter in another 1.9 miles.
There are several trails at the shelter leading to different campsites. Continue straight past the shelter for 150 yards and reach the intersection of the AT you descended earlier.
Turn left on the AT, then in 20 yards stay right remaining on the white blazed AT. Continue uphill on the AT as it passes back over Meadow Mountain, before descending and arriving back at the parking area at Reeds Gap in 1.6 miles.
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Reviews For The Three Ridges Hike (5 Most Recent)
Hiked this as a day hike last fall as suggested from Reed's Gap but this time we started at the bottom, from the small Rt. 56/Tye River parking area, up the Mau-Har Trail to the AT and the to Hanging Rock back down to the AT-Mau-Har Trail junction. Though it's a bit longer according to GPS it seemed easier having a long downhill instead of uphill at the end of the hike. A .5-mile stretch along Campbell Creek is loaded with trillium right now looks like there's been a pink and white snowfall. Crossed paths with a few early through hikers. We would recommend this as an alternative to starting at Reed's Gap though be advised the parking is more limited on 56. We've lucked out and both times we've done this as a day hike and had marvelous weather.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 10, 2013
This makes a marvelous day hike, though it took us a bit longer than we thought so start out early in winter. We had a very breezy but clear day and the views from Hanging Rock south toward the Priest were stunning. Did not see much wildlife but spotted a couple of great swimming holes on Campbell Creek (will keep them in mind for the summer!).
Date of Hike: Monday, October 28, 2013
Beautiful sunny day for this hike. I took it as described and the views were spectacular. I knew this hike would be tough so I worked my way up to it including the 13+ mile Austin/Furnace Mt. circuit last month. This was way tougher mostly because the elevation changes are constant and many are very steep, especially coming down from Three Ridges and after crossing the ridgeline on the MauHar Trail. It's worth it though. The trail never gets boring...it demands your attention in many spots but offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the vistas, lay of the land, rock formations, and waterfalls. I took 3 liters of water and walked out with a couple of sips left and this was a cool sunny day. Bring plenty of water. I hiked this on a Monday and saw nobody for the entire circuit, which was a surprise given this trail's popularity.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 07, 2013
Great hike. Started at Reeds Gap around 4:30 pm on Friday. Went south on the AT to Maupin shelter and set up camp for the night in the campsites surrounding the shelter.
Went clockwise, starting with the AT to Harper's creek hut. The views from 3 ridges were spectacular. This is probably my favorite hike in Va. so far. I was wondering about water on the AT section of the hike. At this time it was totally dry all the way to Harper's Creek. We crossed a couple of dry creek beds that may have water in the spring. It's been such a rainy spring and summer I thought there would be at least some water. I took 4 liters and used 3 between Friday night and Sat.afternoon when we reached Harper hut. So bring lots of water if you're doing the AT first. Stayed the night at a nice little site right above the creek near Harper's hut. The Christopher Newport Univ. hiking club was also there. The Mau-Har trail was awesome but definitely a workout. Plenty of water until about a mile before you reach Maupin hut again on the return trip.
The Mau-Har has some beautiful swimming holes and little waterfalls.
Definitely worth doing if you're in shape for it.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 03, 2013
My friends and I did this hike counter-clockwise starting from VA 56 and loved every bit of it. The elevation change was difficult but the views easily made up for it. The total mileage came out to be 13. Also, the Mau Har trail has some nice views of a couple waterfalls. I recommend this hike to people who are looking for a challenge that pays off at the summit.