No time for a really long hike? Then Ragged Mountain Reservoir just minutes from Charlottesville, will fit the bill. Although there are no Panoramic views as many of our hikes have, there are beautiful views of the reservoir throughout the hike. Ragged Mountain previously was managed by the Ivy Creek Foundation but is now part of the City of Charlottesville Parks. Edgar Allan Poe rambled through these hills while a student at UVA.
This hike can be done in either direction. We did it counter-clockwise, with the trail starting just to the right of the kiosk at the end of the parking area. The trails are well signed at intersections and with some blue blazes.
Mile 0.0 - Begin a short tough climb, bear right at the top.
Mile 0.3 - The Round Top Trail intersection is on the right, stay straight on the Ragged Mtn Trail.
Mile 0.6 – Intersection and Mountain Man Statue, bear to the right following sign for Upper Loop Trail
Mile 0.9 – Water Tower, bear to the left of water tower.
Mile 1.1 – Reach intersection with Bear Statue, bear to the right onto Trail.
Mile 1.6 – Eagle Statue, cross small bridge is just beyond the statue.
Mile 2.1 – Upper Loop comes in on the right, stay straight. In less than 100 yards you will see the brick outline of the Sugar Hollow Reservoir pipe tunnel.
Mile 3.3 – Bear left onto the Old Upper Dam Road.
Mile 4.6 – Floating Bridge, I-64 is visible on your right as you cross the bridge.
Mile 4.8 – Intersection with Peninsula Trail, we bypassed this, this trail takes you to the remnants of the old Upper Reservoir Dam. Prior to 2014 there were 2 reservoirs.
Mile 5.8 – Arrive at new dam. Cross dam then cross road to reach trail to return to parking lot.
Mile 6.1 – Parking Lot.
Photo Note: We have left some of the photos below from our original 2011 posting of Ragged Mountain prior to the expansion of the reservoir. There are no longer 2 lakes, the upper dam is gone, the upper dam Pump House is gone and the chimney ruins are also gone.
Mid October (photos courtesy of Patrick M.)
Ragged Mountain Hike Comments
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 13, 2019
Beautiful day and a good hike on a Sunday. Reservoir Road is gravel for more than a mile with many signs pointing to Camp Holiday Trails and none for Rugged Mountain we thought we may have made a wrong turn onto a private road, but it was correct. The parking lot was crowded and we saw a number of people fishing, kayaking and about 15 hikers on the trail. There was a portajohn at the trailhead but I didn't see any drinking water source. Many of the hikers had dogs and we saw no signs prohibiting them, so that has changed since the HU specs above were written.
We took the main trail counter clockwise starting across the dam. The main circuit is listed as 7 miles on the map, not 6.1 or 4, those numbers may be from the old two lake configuration. With a couple early steep hills followed by many minor ups and downs, I would rate this as a 3 difficulty rather than a 2. The trail is well marked with trail names and arrows but the map does not contain the trail names so it is confusing at times. The map has circled numbers along the trail which I originally thought were points of interest but they were mileage markers. There are benches every mile that are labeled with the the mileage which is a nice touch, provided as an Eagle Scout project in 2018. The trail is very well maintained and clean. The lake is pretty. Nothing special about the scenery but the nice Virginia hardwood forest made for an enjoyable experience.
Date of Hike: Monday, June 24, 2019
I hiked this for the first time after the new dam construction. I started out counterclockwise, but I now realize that the signage is all geared for a clockwise route. Some of the trails are familiar from before the construction, but I was frankly confused about some trails. I have a couple of suggestions: 1) park at the upper parking area and start out across the dam - i.e. clockwise 2) take a picture of the trail map at the information kiosk to help guide you through the mostly unmarked trails. An alternative would be to download the trail map from the C'ville Parks & Rec website.
On a Monday, I practically had the entire trail to myself. I only saw 2 other couples.
Date of Hike: Saturday, January 5, 2019
We hadn't hiked this since the reservoir was raised a few years ago. We hiked it counterclockwise, but signage is better if one goes clockwise. Parts were a bit muddy, but we have had record rainfall for the last eight months. All in all very pleasant, and the bigger lake is prettier than I remember it before.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 10, 2012
This was a very pleasant hike. It was a little more difficult than we expected. A good bit of up and down on the hills. The map and directions of this site were spot on. We did not see but one other hiker. This is good hike for a morning or afternoon with a good mild workout.
Date of Hike: Friday, December 30, 2011
If you're near Charlottesville, go do this hike before it's too late. According to the news, contracts have been let for construction on raising the dam to begin in March. This is a beautiful hike, and I will be very sad to see it destroyed.
Date of Hike: Friday, December 9, 2011
I have led Cub Scout hikes here but I am surprised this hike is listed on the HikingUpward site, as it is little more than a woods walk. There are better hikes within a short drive of Charlottesville - Fortune's Cove in Nelson County, and Mint Springs, Preddy Creek and the new Patricia Byrom Park in Albemarle County come to mind. UVA's Observatory Hill offers a better workout and is closer to town.
As a recent reviewer noted, there is a new dam scheduled to put some of these acres under water. The land is owned by the local water authority, and in the meantime we are all hiking on these paths due to their kindness. They bought the land for future expansion, and most everybody who lived through the 2003 Charlottesville drought where car washes were closed and restaurants saved water by serving food on paper plates agrees that additional capacity is needed.
If you do go, be sure to note the many restrictions that the Ivy Creek Foundation put on the land when they took over responsibility for the land a few years back. No longer are dogs or bikes welcome on the paths. No running. No way geocaching is permitted. An Albemarle County official told me that a landowner wanted to donate adjacent land for park use but was afraid that the Foundation would control it. So that land stayed private.
If you live in Charlottesville and have young hikers, check this place out. Otherwise, there are a multitude of finer spots close by.
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 23, 2011
I led a hike here on Sunday with a group of 20 from the Central Virginia Trailblazers group. We hiked the entire 7-mile loop, with a stop for lunch near the Gate House on top of the earthen dam. My only criticism: The Upper Lake Trail is not as well worn as the Main Trail, and with leaves on the ground, it's very difficult to follow despite the blue blazes. We met another couple near the concrete dam close to the end of the trail, and they told us they had trouble as well. Otherwise the weather was perfect, and the fall foliage was beautiful. Definitely worth the one-hour drive from Richmond.
Date of Hike: Thursday, October 20, 2011
I rated this a 5 because- though its a different "hike" (it's really more of a walk in the woods)- it's awesome. Especially now with the colors. It took 3 hrs today (PERFECT weather- mid/upper 50s, blue skies, early morning sun) just to do half the walk because I was stopping to take pictures- really just awesome. Worth an afternoon if you're nearby!
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 17, 2011
Really great casual hike. Took about 2 hours to do the 4.4mile main loop. Was pretty easy with a handful of short, manageable climbs. Beautiful glimpses of the reservoir beyond the trees throughout much of the trail. Most of the trail is covered by trees offering a very comfortable, cool, breezy hike even on a warm summer day. Highly recommended for anyone that just wants to head outdoors for a quick few hours.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Hiked everything but the upper lake loop with our 5 year old daughter. Beautiful hike. Loved the grassy dam. We will definitely go back again. There were a number of dogs on the trail, despite the very clear "no dogs" sign at the trail head.