This is a great little hike not too far from Charlottesville and is the newest park in the Albemarle County Park system. It was donated by the Byrom family to be used as a county park. There is a nice vista at the Gibson Mountain Overlook at about the halfway mark, and is a great workout to get there climbing 1200 feet in 2.1 miles for the payoff. At one point in the hike, if you hiked almost directly north, you would be only 1.4 miles from Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah National Park. Trail intersections are well marked, however there are no trail blazes.
The drive to the trail head will remind you of many of the trails in SNP as you drive on Brown's Gap Turnpike and cross over Doyle's River.
Mile 0.0 – The trail begins just behind the information kiosk and starts to climb very quickly on the Great Mountain Trail. In 0.5 miles there will be a view of the creek on the left.
Mile 0.6 – Bear right onto the Blue Ledge Trail and very quickly you will bear to the left to stay on the trail.
Mile 1.0 – Small bridge, not far after the bridge bear right onto the Little Flat Mountain Loop trail.
Mile 1.4 – Reach a Picnic Table. Follow sign to continue up the Little Flat Mountain Loop trail. Note: From the picnic table if you hiked directly north you would reach Loft Mountain Campground in 1.4 miles, it would be one tough hike with over 1400' feet of elevation gain. There is no trail, we just mapped it out on our topo software from that point to see how close we were.
Mile 2.1 – Arrive at the Gibson Mountain Overlook looking south to the parking area and Blackwell Hollow. There is a nice bench to take in the views and catch your breath. Continue on the trail and quickly bear to the left and start heading down.
Mile 2.3 – Catfish Rock on the left, big rock, no views.
Mile 2.4 – Intersection with Blackwell's Trail. If you continued straight on the Little Flat Mountain Loop, it is a very steep descent. We did both trails and recommend Blackwell's Trail.
Mile 2.6 – Continue on Blackwell's Trail, there is supposed to be a Winter View here, we did not see much but maybe there was still too many leaves on the trees.
Mile 3.3 – Reach intersection of Little Flat Mountain Loop trail again and bear to the left.
Note: This is where we hiked back up Little Flat Mountain Loop trail to see how tough it would be coming down that way and is why we made our recommendation at Mile 2.4.
Mile 3.6 – Little Flat Mountain Loop trail bears to the left, stay straight to continue to the Great Mountains Trail.
Mile 3.8 – Reach the Great Mountains Trail and continue down to the parking lot.
Mile 4.3 – Parking Lot, end of hike.
Interactive Hike Map BelowPrintable
Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left Mouse-over icons in the map below for location shots
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Reviews For The Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Hike (5 Most Recent)
As rated, overall a nice hike with nice views as long as the leaves are off. I was there on a weekday and had the whole place to myself except for some workers next to the parking lot. Take heed to what they are saying about the steepness. It isn't a long distance to the top, but there are sections with grades that left me gasping for air. I'm a believer in the saying "hiking uphill gets you tired, hiking downhill gets you hurt." I hiked down the Little Flat trail on the west side. It seems to be an old jeep trail they inherited, but there are sections I'll swear are over 25% grades. I then hiked back up Blackwell for a comparison. The trail narrative is accurate and I'll also recommend Blackwell. If do you hike down Little Flat, please be careful. Twice I slipped on lose materials and landed on my ass, but no injury except my ego.
Date of Hike: Thursday, June 30, 2016
It is a good short hike, the trees provide excellent shade for a summer hike. I'll echo the previous reviewer that commented regarding the lack of switchbacks making for a near constant ascent, and descent. The deer tick and Lone Star tick population however is BOOMING there. I do not exaggerate when I say my daughter, my dog and myself had over 40 ticks. I was still pulling them off hours later, and now every time I feel a little tickle on my skin I get a little panicked...
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 17, 2016
Nice climb towards highest point where you can take a break and enjoy the view on a bench. The surrounding country is very beautiful. Clear evidence that the path is being just by horses too...Big bummer was the three ticks (Lone Star and Dog Ticks?) that came home with us, one fell out of clothing and two where on my daughter's scalp, hiding under the hair on the back of her head. We have been hiking in the Shenandoah area for several years now, but this is the first time we've encountered them. Be aware (wearing long pants is not sufficient)!
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 19, 2015
Beautiful hike and other reviews are comprehensive, though I was disappointed to find that this is another trail that horse riders are not using horse manure catchers. If you ride, please be responsible and follow Leave No Trace principles.
Date of Hike: Saturday, February 07, 2015
I really appreciate people like Patrician Ann Byrom for donating their land for others to enjoy. This trail would be best hiked when leaves are off the trees. Don't let the short distance fool you, there are very few switch backs on this mountain, so up you climb. The view from the top was beautiful. There are benches along with way for people who wish to sit and enjoy nature. The park is in the process of building another trail. I walked the unfinished trail for about a mile. The best part of this hike is the drive....beautiful country...