There are two versions of this hike. The first passes the Devil's Marbleyard, a hillside of boulders with some as large as a truck, and continues down the Gunter Ridge Trail. The second version adds a 3.0 mile out and back hike along the Appalachian Trail, which reaches one of the most spectacular 360° panoramas in Virginia.
The Belfast Trail trail veers left here, crossing a creek, then arriving at another junction of the GHT. Stay right following the blue blazed Belfast Trail. From this point there are no further blazes along the Belfast Trail. The trail will become steeper crossing a stream two more times before reaching the bottom tip of Devil's Marbleyard in 1.0 miles.
The trail stays to the right of Devils' Marbleyard, and in 0.1 miles there is access through the scrub to the main boulder field. If you spend some time rock-hopping make sure to rejoin the Belfast Trail at the same point you entered, as there isn't any trail access higher in the boulder field. Continue up the Belfast Trail as it veers away from Devil's Marbleyard through a ravine, then arrives at the top of the ridge and junction of the Gunter Ridge Trail in 0.9 miles.
For The Additional 3.0 Mile Out/Back Along the AT:
Turn right and in 0.5 miles reach the end of the Belfast Trail and intersection of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Stay right along the ridge on the now white blazed AT as it continues down to the right, through a small saddle, and back up before arriving at a 100 yard clear section of the AT. Just before the open area of the trail reenters the tree line turn left uphill through the underbrush, and in 30 yards reach the ridge. This clearing, along the un-maintained Sulphur Spring Trail, is known as the 'Helicopter Pad', and has one of the most spectacular 360° views in the state of Virginia.
To continue, retrace the route 1.5 miles back to the intersection of the Gunter Ridge Trail you passed earlier.
If you are hiking the shorter loop only, turn left on the Gunter Ridge Tail. For the the out/back addition on the AT, now continue straight on the Gunter Ridge Trail.
The Gunter Ridge Trail is not blazed, and is marked on the map here in red. In 0.3 miles pass through a small saddle, then descend along the north side of the mountain before the trial heads back to the ridge line. Once along the ridge there are views in every direction. A fire, caused by lightning, burnt this section of Gunter Ridge in 2002 and almost no large trees remain.
Begin to descend more steeply, and the trail makes 14 switchbacks before leveling out near the valley floor. Pass through a wooden horse gate and follow the trail to the left. Cross Little Hellgate Creek, and in 0.5 miles the Gunter Ridge Trail ends at the Glenwood Horse Trail (GHT). This section of the GHT is an old forestry road.
Turn left on the orange GHT. There aren't any trail markings on the GHT at this point, so don't be concerned if you don't see any. The GHT will wind around the mountain, then in 0.8 miles stay right following the orange diamonds where a side FS road leads uphill. In 0.3 miles pass another FS road that turns back to the left, and 200 yards further make a sharp switchback to the left continuing to follow the orange diamonds. 0.8 miles from here the GHT reaches the intersection of the Belfast Trail you ascended earlier.
Turn right, and in 60 yards stay right again following the orange diamonds. In 240 yards turn left at the arrow and orange diamonds, cross a small stream, and in 300 yards reach the intersection of the Belfast Trail. Turn right on the Belfast Trail for 100 yards re-crossing the east fork of Elk Creek and arrive back at the parking area.
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Reviews For The Devil's Marbleyard Hike (5 Most Recent)
Me and 4 friends decide to hike the yard on a Friday before a trip to Three Ridges. This (early spring) must be the best time of year to go, we saw none of the overgrowth described in previous reviews. A little leftover snow, but air temperature was high enough we stripped down to t-shirts early on. Parking lot is very small, but our two cars were the only ones there at 9:30 on that Friday (lots of cars there on our return). Didn't see anyone else on the trails. Both the climb to the top of the boulder field, and the view from the top are spectacular!
Three things I didn't like though:
1. Lack of a trail from the top of the boulder field is annoying. We bushwacked from up top due south (downhill) to rejoin the Belfast Trail.
2. Grafitti on the rocks. Mostly, the yard is free from trash and other vandalism, but in a few key spots, some horse's behind decided to express their affections with purple spray paint. Why?
3. Did the out and back on the AT. View is nice, but I wouldn't call it one of the best in Virginia. I'd do it again, but I'm a distance junkie.
Date of Hike: Monday, May 28, 2012
Memorial Day. The Marble Yard is great and by far the best part of the hike. We were the first folks in the parking area at 10:30am but cars started coming in as we got ready to start. When we left the parking area was full and twelve more vehicles lined the road hugging the grass. If predatory towing is the name of the game - it sure wasn't this day. The trail past the Yard is a bit... brutal and be sure you watch your footing climbing the rocks/roots. Once you clear that the "hard" part is over and the rest of the trail is a bit drab. I will return to climb and play in the Yard again - but it will be an out and back to the Yard and back (about 1.2 miles each way). As we left the Yard some families started coming into the Yard area with smaller children (4 - 7ish) and the rocks nor the bit of trail past the Yard are fit for them in my opinion/observation.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2012
What more can I say about this hike but IT SUCKED. And for us to say that, it takes a lot. We have been hiking a wide variety of trails in the past year and are definitely not picky when it comes to being outdoors. I really wish the hike was an in and out to Devil's Marbleyard. We hiked the entire hike all the way to the AT then down the unblazed red trail to the 14 switchbacks and down the fire road. So our GPS said we did 12.4 miles in 7 hours with bouldering Devil's Marbleyard. So the good part of the hike was bouldering on Devil's Marbleyard. You could definitely spend all day there if you wanted and definitely suggest that as a great workout. The bad part of the hike was after that&hellipafter you arrive at the junction of the Gunter Ridge Trail in 0.9 miles, you turn right and the half mile to get to the AT is knee high in weeds coving the entire trail. What was stated as the most spectacular 360° views in the state of Virginia is not even close, so needless to say we were disappointed. Maybe a long time ago it was great, now it is covered by trees and weeds. After your return to the Gunter Ridge Trail and the so called no blazed red trail is not maintained and bushwhacking is needed. This is about 5.5 miles of stickers scratching your legs, getting attacked by locusts, and not knowing if a snake is on the trail&hellipdue to not being able to see the trail. Getting on the fire road was a little confusing, after the horse gate passes the creek you get to what looks like a left turn for the fire road just stay strait for about 5 minutes and then you turn to the right. Now let's talk about deer ticks. We pulled about 30 off our all from legs shoes from the over grow plants on the trial. That was with having Permethrin on our clothes and Deet lotion and spray on our bodies. As Sharon stated in a previous review, the cops are out and the parking is very tight. So, if you get to parking lot after 9:00 AM I would say you are risking getting towed. We arrived at 8:45 and only had one other car in parking lot, but before we got our packs on, another car pulled in. At 4:15 when we finished, the lot was packed, people even parked alongside of road (noting they were 100% not on any part of the road, so they wouldn't be towed) and 2 cars were waiting for us to leave. Also, on the way out a car was getting pulled over 3 minutes away from trail head. So if you are up to the challenge to boulder, we suggest only going to the top of Devil's Marbleyard, but if you want a good hike, try to find a better one in the area.
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Great hike lousy parking. Three cars were towed on Saturday, so be mindful about parking. The parking area is only large enough for 8 vehicles. Look for the no parking signs, and get your vehicle all the way off the road. I mean no tires on the road. Predatory towing is the name of the game. Don't park on the strip across from the FS parking area. This is private property. The spawn of Satan, who lives there, went out of her way to taunt the young college age kids who had their car towed all the way to Lexington.
Parking aside, it's fun to play on the rock pile.
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2012
The hike itself was pretty great....would love to do the rock scramble again, but will never set foot in Rockbridge County again due to the hostility of the locals. Three cars were towed away, two for having a millimeter of tire tread on the paved surface, one just because evil landowners across the road were so incredibly spiteful and mean. There is zero cell phone service, no warning signs regarding towing, and they pop you a $200 per car fee for retrieving your vehicle, given you have a clue where to find it. Then, be careful when you do drive the considerable distance to get your car, provided you have another vehicle to get you there, because local, rotund cops find plenty of joy in pulling outsiders over for speeding, and charging absurd fines. It is literally like a time warp there. You expect to hear the banjos any minute. If you do go, don't go alone.