The Torry Ridge hike, just south of Waynesboro VA, passes through one of the premier campgrounds in the GWNF, Sherando Lake. With both camper and tent camping as well as a fantastic lake with a man made beach, this hike plus other trails in the area such as St Mary's Wilderness, this makes for a great weekend getaway spot.
This circuit has three possible start points. Sherando Lake, The Slacks Overlook, or how we have it mapped here, from White Rock Gap. Cross the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and start south down the yellow blazed White Rock Falls trail. In 1.2 miles cross White Rock Creek then start the steepest section of the hike as the trail makes several switchbacks. In 0.2 miles after crossing the creek, look for a faint unmarked trail that leads down to a 30ft waterfall.
Continue up the yellow blazed trail and 0.3 miles from the waterfall are two vistas of the White Rock Creek gorge. From this point the trail will become less steep and arrive at the BRP in another 0.4 miles. Cross the BRP and follow the unmarked connector trail behind the picnic table for 100 yards to the intersection of the Slacks trail.
Turn left on the blue blazed Slacks trail and follow it 0.9 miles to the intersection of the Torry Ridge trail. Turn right on the yellow blazed Torry Ridge trail and follow it 2.0 miles to the intersection off the blue blazed trail that leads down to Sherando lake. the Torry Ridge Trail has several nice views of Bald Mountain and Kelly Mountain.
Turn right down the blue blazed trail and arrive at the Sherando Lake overlook in 0.2 miles. Continue down the trail for another 0.1 miles to the Dam trail intersection. Stay left on the Dam trail for 0.3 miles where it ends at the orange blazed Lake trail and Sherando Lake. Turn right following the orange blazed trail around the lake to where the orange trail ends at the picnic area.
For the next 0.9 miles follow the campground roads to the south end of the recreation area and upper dam. Climb to the crest of the dam, then turn right and follow it all the way to the right side. Do Not go down the steps on the water side of the dam.
At the end of the dam turn left on the orange blazed White Rock Gap trail and in 1.8 miles pass the one good campsite on the circuit. From the campsite it is another 0.3 miles to the intersection of the blue blazed Slacks Trail.
Stay straight on the orange blazed trail for the remaining 0.4 miles back to the BRP, and White Rock Gap parking area.
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Reviews For The Torry Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
First of all - drinkable water is available in the campground, about 2/3's through the hike,so you don't have to carry all of your water in. I think I picked a perfect day to do this hike. The drive up to the Parkway was beautiful because of the spring colors, but the trees up on the trail had not leafed out yet, so the views were nice. With a lunch break and foot soak break (the creek was wonderfully cold), the hike took me 5.5 hours. One thing I liked about it was all the varied terrain. As someone else said, the most difficult stretch is in the first 2 or 2.5 miles or so, really after 1.5 miles. There is some pretty steep uphills there, but your reward is a lovely waterfall along the way When it crossed the Parkway, the picnic table mentioned in the directions at that point is not visible from where the trail emerges. Cross the road and turn left and then turn into an overlook area, and you'll see the picnic table on the right, and the trail is clearly visible behind it. The trail rolls through a much more open (and somewhat barren) area for a while, then back into woods as you head toward the campground. The campground is a good place to refill water bottles (watch for a hose bib sticking out of the ground and marked "Drinkable Water"), and use the nice restrooms. When you leave there, you will climb steps up to the top of the Upper Lake dam, then find the trail again all the way at the right end of it. It climbs quite a bit from there back to the parking lot, but not steeply. It crosses the creek several more times, so don't miss an opportunity to stop and put your feet in. I think I would I would like to go back and do this hike again in the fall, and maybe in reverse.
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 06, 2014
Overall, this was a nice hike. We did the hike as described here on HikingUpward. In our opinion, the best parts were the initial 2.5 miles (White Rock Falls trail down to the creek and then back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway) and the last 2.5 miles (from the campground back to White Rock Gap). The two miles on Torry Ridge itself were fine. The hiking was nice and easy, although the trail was rocky and reminded me of some of the sections of the Appalachian Trail up in PA. Since the trees haven't leafed out yet, there were some really nice views from the ridge. The trail from the ridge down to Sherando Lake was steep, as indicated by the elevation profile for the hike. We were glad to be hiking down that trail and not going in the other direction. One thing that neither of us liked was the ~1 mile walk on paved roads through the campground. There weren't a whole lot of people around Sherando Lake (although judging by the size of the parking lots and campground, I'm sure it is quite busy in the summer) but walking on roads didn't appeal to us at all. One good thing about the hike was the solitude. In our ~5 hours in the woods, we saw just 3 mountain bikers and two people on foot (not counting the couple dozen people in the campground and around the lake). Doing this hike was a nice way to spend a spring day, but there are plenty of other hikes listed on this site that I would hike a second or third time before I do this one again.
Date of Hike: Monday, October 14, 2013
We hiked this loop after a rainy week, and it easily rated as a "5" for streams under those conditions. Except for the first section of the Slacks trail, and along the Ridge Trail, we were within sight and/or sound of either a stream or Sherando Lake the whole time. There were tons of stream crossings, many of which are probably nonexistent during dry weather but which actually required some strategizing today. Overall, a great hike. We were fogged in so we didn't get many views, but the few we glimpsed were tantalizing. I definitely plan to return on a clear day.
Date of Hike: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Hiked this starting at Sherondo Lake in mid-May with two girlfriends. Saw just one other group of hikers on the trail. From this starting point, the first few miles are slight incline, but pretty easy going. The climb after the waterfall is pretty steep, but not too long and the views from the top are wonderful. You don't gain as much elevation as other hikes this long, which makes this hike easier than many other 8-10 mile hikes I've done. I'd give 3 stars for difficulty, but perhaps 4 is warranted given the distance. Dipping our tired feet in the lake at the end of the hike was a nice touch. We didn't actually see any bears, but we saw lots of evidence on the trail that they had been around. Drank 2 liters of water and it was quite warm the day we went.
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 20, 2013
I did the hike as described, counter-clockwise, starting from the White Rock Gap parking lot...
Note that the first segment of the hike, from the parking lot to the intersection of the Slacks and Torry Ridge trails is used a part of the Bel Monte Endurance Run trail race, which coincidentally was taking place while I was hiking it! (so I saw lots of runners)
This was an enjoyable hike, with a couple of really nice vistas, and a lot of stream action. The streams were running strong, which made a couple of the stream crossings on the challenging side. It took me 4 hours to complete, with only short breaks...