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Terrapin Mountain - JNF, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
10.1 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5 hours and 40 minutes with 1 hour and 30 minutes of breaks
2,658 ft
Jefferson National Forest

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Parking for the Terrapin Mouintain loop trail. 37.53088, -79.42825

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins ()

The Terrapin Mountain Trail in Jefferson National Forest is an excellent cold season option because of its abundant winter views and easy access on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It also has the benefit of lying due east of the largest Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, protecting it from the harsh west winds in the winter. You can try the short but steep out-and-back to Terrapin Mountain, or tackle the full loop which mostly follows forest roads along Reed Creek and tributaries on the return. From two overlooks you’ll have fantastic views of Apple Orchard Mountain, Thunder Ridge, and the Peaks of Otter. If you choose to take the entire loop, you’ll be treated to a surprise waterfall beside the trail near the end of the hike. 

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Hiker Reviews For The Terrapin Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Bethany Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 29, 2016
Fantastic hike. I thought the directions provided were very helpful and pretty accurate although the mileage on my GPS watch was slightly different. I brought my dog along and we both really enjoyed the varied terrain. Great views throughout with no leaves on the trees and Reed Creek was beautiful!

By: The dirctions are sketchy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 01, 2016
I frequently came to splits and tried to figure out where to go because the yellow blazes were non existent. I got to the road and turned right as the directions stated to do even though looking at the map that didn't seem right. Needless to say I ended up on the AT and then the parkway 13 miles away from my car. Also do NOT take the summit first. That is up....up....up some more.....oh thank god its flattening out.....oh crap now its up again at an 80 degree incline. I will say though that the view at what is labled as mile 1.5 is phenomenal. My pictures can't even possibly capture how magnificent it is. But having to hitchhike 13 miles back to my car was not fun. Before people assume its because I'm new I've been hiking for 20+ years. I have never been on a trail as poorly marked as this one and I've been on some trails I thought couldn't be beat in that category.

By: Glenn Rubel Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 24, 2016
I agree with Sara that this hike is very challenging and in my opinion could be rated a 5 difficulty. I hiked the trail to Terrapin Mountain peak and back and found the yellow blazing poor and in need of refreshing. The views from Terrapin peak are so-so but the view from the false summit at 1.5 miles is rewarding. I wanted to see the view at 3.1 miles but didn't have the heart to downslope from Terrapin peak and to have to upslope on the return trip. I recommend to all hikers to read the above directions as I took the wrong turn at the start of the hike and followed a fire road for a good distance before realizing the mistake.

By: LynchburgExplorer Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 19, 2016
This is such a great hike.
Be sure to look for the rock formation that looks like a turtle at the summit. When you get to the overlook near the summit look at the ridge to the left, you'll see a big jumble of boulders along the ridge. With some imagination you'll see a turtle. Hence the name of the mountain, 'Terrapin'.

Also there is another rock formation beside the know as 'Fat Man Misery' It's a great talus cave that requires one to 'squeeze' through. The Terrapin mountain 50k and half marathon actually run through the rocks, so for more information look up those races.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 10, 2016
First off, don't underestimate this hike! It is a tough one with it's continuously steep climbs. Trail is rugged and there are many loose rocks on the way up if you choose to take the summit way first like in the directions above. Keep your eyes on the blazes because we found it easy to take an accidental wrong turn on unmarked trails on some of the switchbacks and in the areas that were so rocky that the trail was very faint. Bring trekking poles if you have them! They kept us from tumbling down the loose rocks on multiple occasions. We did find the directions a little confusing when we got to all the Y junctions because of how many unmarked trails we encountered. We ended up opting out of doing the loop to the creek like we originally planned and just headed back the way we came after seeing the summit. If you do this, be even more careful on the way down because of how steep the trek is. The rocks and leaves were very slippery.

Another thing, when you are driving down Terrapin Mountain Lane it is a residential area. The trailhead is at the end of this road with a small parking area.

Early December
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