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Three Ridges - Nellysford, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
14.4 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
2 Days: 5.0hrs-7.3mls Day1, 4.5hrs-7.1mls Day2
3,960 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Park at the intersection of VA664 and the Blue Ridge Parkway
Alternative Start Point: Appalachian Trail Parking Lot (37.838437,-79.023239) on Route 56, parking for about 12-15 cars. Proceed across the road, head north on the A.T., cross the Tye River Suspension Bridge, stay on A.T. until the Mau-Har trail intersection. Decide whether to do the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. 37.90146, -78.98526

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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Hiker Reviews For The Three Ridges Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Blair Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 17, 2016
I opted for just the day hike version with my dog. This is a tough hike, lots of climb and drop, and pretty rocky terrain! I was glad to have boots for sure. I calculated the hike from Reids Gap parking to Three Ridges overlook is just 4.4mi, totally feasible in 2 hours. I actually just went to "Three Ridges Hike" on Google Maps to get there. It was a great way to spend the day!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2016
This is a wonderful, beautiful scenic hike.... for those who are not faint of heart. i am 100% faint of heart and should have never tried to do this. I did this when I was 18 years old and remember loving it, 8 years later it left me feeling like I was decrepit and should essentially move into a retiring home. Heads up, if you get winded on the first uphill before the Maupin Fields Campsites, turn back. For the love of god, turn back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 23, 2016
This is a difficult hike with the elevation as well as the rocky terrain. You are either going up or coming down - there is no level mountain ground on this trail. The temps were quite warm (mid-80s) and humid, despite it being fall. The weather coupled with the trail difficulty made for an exhausting trip. Your first day is actually around 8 miles (from the parking lot to the Harper's Creek Shelter campsite). The second day is about 6 miles (returning to the parking lot). There are a few campsites along the AT portion of the trail on Day 1, but there is ZERO water until you get to Harper's Creek Shelter. On Day 2 there is plenty of water along the Mau-Har blue blazed trail, along with a few small campsites. The views were pretty, but I don't think they outweighed the trail difficulty. Let's just say that I can cross this trail off my list.

By: Vimak Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 13, 2016
Drove down from DC for the hike Friday night and hiked in to meet a friend at the first camping spot about 0.8 miles in. It was about a twenty minute hike in the dark. Saturday we hiked the bulk of the hike, there were beautiful vistas off the AT in the early part and deep springs with swimming holes later. We camped on the Mau-Tai trail, at the first campsite on the creek. Sunday left us with about 2.5 hours till the parking lot.

It was incredibly hot and humid. We were constantly sweating.

By: Hikingrookie Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 04, 2016
I can say this is one of the most difficult trails I have been on. This rivals many trials I have done in PNW. However, the combination of the views and the waterfalls make it worth it!! The waterfalls were stunning, and provided a good water source. However, the Three Ridges portion of the hike does not have water. This is challenging. There were a lot of people on the hike more experienced than me willing to help. Give yourself plenty of time to do this hike. Due to the difficulty, we underestimated the time the trail would take us and we got caught setting up camp in the dark which absolutely sucked. There is a lot of elevation and up and down in this trail, so take that into account in your planning.

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