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Hiker Reviews for the Ramseys Draft Hike - 1 to 74 of 74   
Review the Ramseys Draft hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 12, 2018
We did the twin of this hike on the West side - came up the draft, camped at Hiner Spring, and then continued on to the Shenandoah Mt. trail before heading back down via the Road Hollow trail. The draft itself was still flowing well, so we had to ford most of the crossings - there are so many that it would have taken forever to remove shoes every time, so we just forded in our shoes and walked with wet feet. I think the deepest crossing was about thigh-deep on me (I'm 5'11"). Parts of the trail had lots of blowdowns, so it could be very tiring to maneuver. Also not sure I would hike it much later in the year, because the weeds were already growing up along the trail. Lots of poison ivy too. Camp site at Hiner was nice, although lots of bugs! Plenty of water, and we shared the large site with three other people. Not much in the way of views the 2nd day, but still a pleasant ridge walk with a couple of glimpses here and there. I'd love to come back earlier in spring to do the Bald Ridge trail too.

By: Dan Dudis Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 12, 2018
I did this hike counter-clockwise, as suggested. The ascent really isn't that bad, and the views from Bald Ridge are quite lovely, especially this time of year when the trees above 3500 feet haven't yet leafed out and many spring flowers are in bloom. It's true that the Bald Ridge trail isn't very well marked, but the trail is pretty obvious in most places (this might not be so true during fall and winter), and you basically just need to follow the ridge line.

I made it to Hiner's Spring in just under 5 hours and wound up camping there. Plenty of water and some very nice campsites.

The next day, I descended the draft. The remains of the hemlock stand are truly a site to behold, at once awesome and sad. Many of the dead trees must measure five to six feet in diameter at the base, and I would guess that some of the ones that are still standing must be over 100 feet tall. This forest must have been truly amazing when the hemlocks were still alive.

Ramsy's Draft itself is a beautiful stream although it wasn't very high, you basically have to get wet the crossings are so numerous. I did quite a bit of fly fishing on my way down and caught several gorgeous six to eight inch brook trout.

One note of caution: although the nettles and poison ivy were not a problem as they had just started growing, there are portions of the trail along the stream where they grow right up to the trail and will soon probably be in the trail, so if you hike this trail during the summer, wear pants. Oh, and I also saw a big rattler right along the trail, but it rattled at me well well before I saw it.

All in all, this is one of my new favorite hikes in the region - a truly unique and wonderful place!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 12, 2018
We are old buggers so hiked up the Ramsy's Draft side (ie clockwise) as far as Jerry's Run - multiple crossings, so advice is take good water shoes and keep them on. Jerry's Run no fording, walked to site of old hikers cabin, good camping, lots of room, is about 1/2 mile from Shennanodoah Mountain Trail. Left our tents there and day hiked up Shennanodoah Mountain Trail - noted camp sits at intersection with Sinclair Hollow Trail and about 1/2 mile north of that (there is a spring just across the trail from this site).

Coming back we came walked the last bit of Jerry's Run then left down Shennanodoah Mountain Trail leading to Road Hollow Trail which joins Ramsy's Draft Trail right at the bottom, 1/4 mile from parking lot, and is a nice, steady trail with no water crossings.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 22, 2018
Did this as a day hike last weekend. Hiked it counter clockwise as I wanted to come down the Draft instead of up it, which turned out to be a good idea for one reason. I saw absolutely not a soul on this hike the entire day. I parked in the parking area and there were maybe 10 vehicles there but I believe most people hike up to Hiner Springs via the draft and back, so this explains why I saw no one.

So once you come off of the bridge hollow trail and head up the bald ridge, there were two spots where the trail just disappeared and I went off trial twice. Do not expect to see ANY yellow tree tags after about 2 miles up the bald ridge. All I can say is keep following the ridge line and you should be fine. Great views up there along the ridge which I would imagine would get obscured once the leaves start to show up.

All around it was a good hike. The Draft had the highest flow on it that Ive seen so far. Actually had to put on my water sandals to cross the last 6 times or so. Also, I only counted 17 crossings of the Draft. Another note is when you come to Hiner springs and either start up or down keep the draft to your left going down and to your right going up and you should be fine. The trail is very obscure in this area. ENJOY!!

By: Willin Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 06, 2018
Did the loop hike just yesterday (6 April 18) as a day hike. Did it counter clockwise just as the notes are written. Absolutely Loved It! Great weather & Great hike! I didn't use the little map, but did use the notes, and they are pretty much dead on. As it is spring time, the water levels are up of course, so I had a total of twenty fords (from mid shin to above knee deep) to make across Ramsey's Draft as I followed it down, and a handful of smaller feeder streams that were easily enough rock hopped across. Such a beautiful river Ramsey's Draft is. I had no issues, and completed the entire loop in about five and a half hours. I definitely recommend this hike, but due to somewhat scant trail markings & "invisible" trail in places, and don't know that I'd recommend it for a lone beginner - only my opinion, of course.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 10, 2017
Because it was so cold this weekend, we actually hiked Shenandoah Mountain, camped at Hiner Spring, and took Bald Ridge to Road Hollow back to the car, skipping Ramsey's altogether. However, wanted to leave this here (and also at Shenandoah Mountain page) as a warning given the leaf cover on the trail.

Overall, fantastic route, and quiet and great views from the Bald Ridge trail. However, there was on tricky spot to look out for. On the USFS topo map there's a hairpin turn about 1/3 the way between The Pinnace and The Peak. We lost the trail in a sloping hardwood forest where the trees were too wide apart to make the trail, and had to backtrack, then bushwhack down to the approximate location of the trail after that turn. Not the worst bushwhack in the world, but save yourself some time if you're going with all the leaves down and just plan on the short bushwhack.

By: Anna Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Did part of this hike twice in two weeks with 2 groups of youth. From Confederate Breastworks to Camp Todd via the Shenandoah Mtn trail and Jerrys Run. Be aware that the water source at the Jerry's Run campsite is dry (as of July 27, 2017) due to the dry conditions, so we carried 4L of water/person. Additionally the spring at Hiner Spring is low (as of July 27, 2017) due to the high temps and lack of rainfall. Overall a wonderful hike and flexible enough to turn into a multi-day trip.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 24, 2017
Did this as a day hike, clockwise like are in the directions. Took about 10+ hours, but we didn't move too fast. Saw a few black bears (4), cubs and yearlings, but never came across the mamas. Almost no one on the trail. Only saw 1 other pair of overnighters and another day hiking group down near the parking lot, but we were the only ones up on the ridge. Bring pants or long socks. The nettles are brutal, and have overgrown a good portion of the trail. A machete might be a good idea if you really want to get at the thorns and overgrowth. I still wore shorts and long socks, and my knees weren't too beat up, but the nettle sting is irritating.

Enjoy the overlook at the beginning of the ridge, it's the only one we saw with the canopy as thick as it is right now. When you first make it to the ridge as per directions there's a couple of campsites off to the right with clearings to view the valley below. This is the best view for the rest of the loop, take it in.

Overall, this was great fun as a day trip.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 20, 2017
From the onset I was frustrated with the lack of current information I was finding on hiking Ramsey's Draft. As a father, I wanted to be sure I was not placing my family in undue danger. My two boys, six and nine, along with my wife and I hiked this last week as part of our vacation to the surrounding area. The terrain itself is difficult, made complicated by the MASSIVE tree falls and lack of defined trail. This all gets compounded by carrying overnight packs for the duration. To be fair/clear: Everything known/written about this hike makes it known that this is Wilderness area, and therefore not maintained like a national (or state) park of forest, or other such typical hiking destination. If you approach this trail as a challenge you will be successful and find it rewarding. It is not a turn-key walk in your local park. Also: I found the people at the North River Ranger Station to be a great resource for information as I educated myself on the area. They always answered the phone and were content to engage in conversation and answer all of my questions. I would be pleased to reply to anyone with questions about this hike for themselves.

By: Gingerman Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 15, 2017
I thought to pass along a quick note that this water recently tested positive for a cyanobacteria that is being linked to some very negative outcomes. So take precautions and tread carefully, especially around the various stream crossings that you will face either early on or at the end, depending on how you hike it. Also lots of poison ivy when i was out there gathering the samples.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295368/

Other than this, it was a fine area to hike and a little more off the grid than the eastern range.

By: Gingerman Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Hiked this loop clockwise (so along Ramsey's draft first) with a group of five over the weekend. Overall a nice area and a change from the constant reminders of civilization that you get along the Blue Ridge. The first thing to remember is that this is a wilderness area, not a park and therefore the trail is not marked or maintained. We were surprised at the number of down trees along Ramsey's Draft and the effects of whatever invasive beetle, bug, germ, etc. has really damaged the area. Some of the trees have been cleared or cut from the trail but there are many places where you have to cross the trees and that gets a little old after a while. Crossing Ramsey's Draft is also a challenge along the way. We counted 19 total crossing with some being very easy but many requiring preparation, planning, placement and luck. One of us was not so lucky and got pretty wet. If i returned in the summer, I would probably wear sandals and just get wet. There are plenty of good spots to camp along the way. We came in late on Thursday and stopped before the ascent. After leaving the Draft the next morning and heading up the mountain I was surprised that it was not that bad. Still steep but not that bad. The trail to this point is easy to follow. The spring at the intersection flowed well (it was April) and it is probably good for most seasons. We reached a pond a little faster than expected based on the map. While you could pull from this pond, it was full of life and would probably be tough to drink even if your filter is a trusted tool. From there we hiked the various peaks and along the way (it turned out to be near Peak not Pinnacle as thought) we lost the trail. There is a sharp turnoff on Peak that is very obvious doing the hike counterclockwise but we easily went past it and circled the mountain a few times before finding our way. The area is also very clear and so many parts had the look of a trail. After that coming off the mountain was a breeze with some steep sections but mostly just a nice walk out. I cannot imagine doing this hike counterclockwise due to water shortages for the first 11 miles. Overall enjoyable and not just a 'walk in the park' that is most things along the AT.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 26, 2016
It was a great hike. I went counter clock wise like the directions say. The trail was hard to see in places but easy enough to find this time of year if you don't get lost easy. I can see how the summer or undergrowth can be a problem at other times of the year. Trail would probably be difficult in the summer. It was very secluded and the hemlock trees were awesome to see. It was sad seeing so many of the giant hemlocks on the ground and dead. This isn't a easy hike but a great way to get out in nature on a less popular hike. Probably not recommend for beginners and be prepared for what you are getting into. The ferns and moss covered ground was great to see a little down stream from Hiner springs. You can't experience this sitting at home on the couch so get out and enjoy

By: Hiker Mike Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Set out for a overnight hike on Ramsey Draft and was very much looking forward to it. Was definitely a bit worried with all the rain that had been in the area for the past few weeks, but this trip had been planned for a while with my group of 3. We weren't going to let a little rain hold us back as we were all experienced hikers and enjoy a good challenge. But what we were about to see and go through was no fun what so ever. At first sight everything seemed fine. It was a bit wet but didn't think nothing of it. Well after trudging for what seemed like for ever to get up the first climb and battling mud and sinking boots, we got to the first ridge line. That is when the real issues started to arise. Now we new there was rain in the area, but we had no idea it had rained this much as the next mile was nearly impassable as much of the ridge line path had washed away. We were just walking on a tiny sliver to get pass. So we thought ok, that has got to be the worst of it as that was all in the first few miles. Thinking the further up we go, the better off we will be. That thought only lasted another 30 or 45 minutes as we approached the next ridge line and realized real quickly this was not going to be like the other. Literally there was only a path about a foot wide and solid mud and slippery. So we quickly realized that this was impassable and started to look for another way around. Well after exploring for close to an hour, the doom and gloom of this trek started to hit us...We are not going to make it to the top and we are going to have to go right back through everything that we just went through. Needless to say that we had to turn around and battle everything that was just mentioned again and let me tell you, you think the first ridge line is an easy past going up, try going down it with slippery and muddy boots on. Now we understand that this was probably our fault as we should have paid a bit closer attention to what the weather had been in the area and thought more about it before setting off, but we figured we have hiked many of trails in the rain and mud, this shouldn't be any different. So in final, I would steer clear of this trail for a while until it dries out completely and some one can get up to repair the trail, or cut a new path somewhere else.

By: Lefatshe Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 07, 2016
We abandoned this backpacking trip up the draft after 2 miles, and returned to the car to go elsewhere. There was no getting away from poison ivy and stinging nettles that overhang the trail.  I am very allergic to poison ivy.  The nettles were chest high, so even arms and elbows were tortured.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 17, 2016
I have been in this area before, but typically on the Wild Oak Trail. I was curious, and so plotted adventure. We went counter clockwise, handling the hills the first day and creek the second day. The mountains were nice- never too difficult, but without many overlooks. There were a couple of places where the briars became a bit obnoxious, but that is the price for using a less frequently traveled trail. The ridge-line had a fair amount of bear scat, but we never saw any signs of the perpetrators. My partner blew out his knee on Big Bald, which made a very slow return trip.

The many fallen hemlock trees on the way from Hiner Spring to the bottom are sad, but it was heartening to see young hemlocks growing at the lower elevations. There are several places where climbing over the trees with a backpack becomes difficult, but it can be done. It was in one of those tangles that we found a good sized rattler.

This was a nice walk, but for one thing. The lower portion of Ramsey's Draft is choked with stinging nettles. We did not have any pants, unfortunately. There was no avoiding a painfully itchy return trip. Literally miles of trail with nettles leaning over the trail from both sides growing to chest height. Torment.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 12, 2016
This was a great hike. 

The 1st day (~11 miles) lived up to its difficulty in terms of ascents, but is definitely doable in about 5 hours or so.  The 2nd day was more mild, but has the added feature of plenty of stream crossings (of the 3 people in our party, only 1 foot made it through without taking a dunk in the stream).  It should be noted the trail has a large amount of fallen trees across it.  The trees range from small logs to large 4ft diameter trunks.  Personally I enjoyed the character this added to the hike and was impressed with how high my dog could jump.

Following the trail and hitting the turns was not an issue.  While the blazing is sparse in some areas if you follow the topo and associated directions you'll be fine.  If you're worried you'll miss the turn, you can always use a little dead reckoning to keep yourself in check.

Solitude wise this hike was great.  While the parking lot was full when we arrived, we saw only a pair of mountain bikers on the trail the entire trip.

My biggest complaint is that campsites are accumulating a bit of trash.  The great part about this trail is it is not really maintained and as such is a little rough, but this also means no one polices the campsites.  If you do this hike and you see some trash do everyone a favor and take some out with you.

By: Sam Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 17, 2015
I'll preface this by saying I'm a relatively inexperienced hiker compared to some on this site. I've done probably 10 overnight trips overall.

I thought this was a very good hike overall. Reading these reviews I was a little nervous about getting lost and poison ivy. However, me and my friend did this hike in the fall and we had a great time. We lost the trail once before we hit the pond that the directions mention, but it's easy to find again. I could see how this trail would be overgrown in the summer, but for us it was easy to keep track of overall. I didn't see much poison ivy, just a few plants here and there.

Pros: -There is one great view that we saw -Awesome camp sight, plenty of campfires and logs to sit on, as well as firewood. When we went there were 2 other groups at the campsight, but the closest group was at least 200 feet away. It's a really big sight with lots of area. -The second day is extremely easy going (at least compared to the first day). -There are streams at the campsight and all along the trail the second day so you don't really need to worry about water.

Cons: -The first day is pretty brutal. -No good view of the sky from the camp sight, but that might not be a con to some people.

Overall I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone, but beware that the first day is pretty strenuous.

By: Wild Game Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 13, 2015
Hiked and camped August 13-16. The lower Ramsey's Draft trail had lots of Poison Ivy, as other reviewers have noted. It cannot be avoided on this section, so long pants are advised. The upper section has copious downed trees over the trail. We returned via the Bald ridge trail. I lost the trail about 1k southwest of The Pinacle. I returned to the ridge and re walked the known section twice, but couldn't find it. Bushwhacked southwest to Ramsey's draft, saw lots of "wilderness). People who do the loop counter clockwise seem to have better luck staying on the trail, according to the other reviews I read. Overall this was a great experience, but I would caution that there is not much water on the ridge lines, so plan accordingly. Take a map and compass - you may need it! Personnaly, iD like to see a few more trail markers....they were scarce. Only saw two people in 4 days!

By: Tyler Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 08, 2015
The bald ridge trail was very overgrown with thorns and saplings, be sure to wear some thick pants. Camp site at hiner springs was beautiful. There is plenty of camping all along the trail if you feel like stopping before or after the springs. The walk back along Ramsey's draft was very nice and less overgrown, but still be prepared to push through a lot of foliage. The trees fallen across the trail weren't a problem. Overall, this could be a very good hike with a bit of machete work.

By: Game ON Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2015
I'm w/ Game 12, this is one of my all time favorite hikes, ever, anywhere, anytime!!! YES, I did get my first and only case of poison ivy here - it is terribly overgrown - but I EARNED that poison ivy and had an AMAZING time getting it! (And have been back many, many time....just wear long pants).

THIS IS THE FREAKIN' WILDERNESS AND EVERY BIT OF JOY AND BEAUTY THAT GOES WITH IT!!! Thank goodness it is overgrown, thank goodness folks are NOT out there w/ saws doing 'trail maintenance', thank goodness it's a mess! If you want maintenance hike in Shenandoah National Park, a favorite place of mine, but nothing compares to WILD! I tore large amounts of skin off my left leg trying to get across a fallen hemlock, and goodness it hurt for weeks, but I CROSSED A FALLEN HEMLOCK THAT WAS PROBABLY 300-400 YEARS OLD! I can't say I've ever done that anywhere else nor will I get the chance. This is virgin forest...these are GIANT hemlocks - sadly, all dying - but my boys and I got to cross over (or crawl under) them...my grandchildren may not. PLEASE leave them across the trail, what a treat! Not to mention the fairy-tale-like ferns and underground streams you can only hear if you REALLY listen and there are no other voices around...it's all magical. Enjoy the wilderness as you can't experience it elsewhere....

By: Game12 Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 25, 2015
Game 11.... Seriously? This is by FAR one of the best wilderness areas in VA. Period. Hiked the whole outer boundary of the area and based on your review, you went straight up the draft.... Trails are not the best marked, but if you follow what is listed on this site, you can follow it.

Happy hiking, but Ramsey's is a 6++++ in my book

By: GAME11 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
I chose this hike based in large part on the glowing reviews on this website and others. I felt completely blindsided by the neglected maintenance on this trail. Now, looking at the review dates, I am guessing something has recently changed in the management of the trail recently. While I recognize that the area is designated wilderness, the lack of maintenance goes WAY beyond a wilderness. It's just straight up neglect. Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, the trail was covered in poison ivy - so much it was impossible to avoid. As we hiked up the Ridge Trail, the trail became more and more closed in by invasive bushes, brush, and even saplings. At various points, I became convinced we were off the trail, only to look up and see the remnants of an old yellow diamond on a tree. There were only two views on the ridge trail - the area was entirely closed in by growth. While the first view was very nice, I wouldn't call this hike a 5 for views overall. The lower area of the trail near Ramsey's Draft was beautiful, with many gorgeous campsites. There are lots and lots of enormous blowdowns, but none that are impossible to get over/under. I personally enjoy some good river fords, so no complaints there. Odds are your feet will get wet. Plan accordingly, don't be dumb :) In a nutshell... if you go, wear pants, be proactive about tick prevention, and plan on spending a lot of time bushwhacking. If you have a bad reaction to poison ivy, just don't go - you cannot avoid it for a quarter of the hike. I have never left a negative review of anything in my life. I'm truly not a whiner: I have thru-hiked the entire A.T., grew up hiking in Virginia, and have logged hundreds of hours maintaining local trails. I never thought I would say this, but I will never be returning to this trail (unless some brave soul PLEASE sets up a work trip!)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 10, 2015
This hike was... interesting. As a winter hike, it provides a number of obstacles, mostly streams, to overcome. I friend and I made it past the first stream after several minutes of plotting. We decided to get down to our underwear, wade across, dry off and continue on. Not the best plan, but it worked.

Overall the trail was everything as advertised in other comments. One or two nice views, beautiful streams, and ample solitude. It was also rather difficult. I'm a young guy who exercises often. It was a challenge, but not ridiculous either. Just enough to feel like you accomplished something.

All of this refers only to the first half of the trail. Somewhere along the way we got lost and we came out at a dirt road. Eventually we hitch hiked back to the parking lot (we were WAY off).

My only gripe is lack of signs. I'm still very green to hiking and I do take 90% responsibility for getting lost, but at major trail intersections, something would have helped a newbie.

By: Larry M Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 23, 2014
My friend and I just hiked this trail. We went up the ridge and over to Hiner Springs for the night. The hike was a bit tougher than I had expected however, I have not hiked in a while and am a bit out of shape. I think the 5/6 rating suits this hike fine. It's a beautiful hike, with various sceneries and divers flora and fauna. Luckily, we beat the crowd this memorial day weekend and we did not see anyone during the Friday hike (we got there around 1 and arrived at Hiner springs around 8. Since I am a herpetology enthusiast, we did stop to take pictures of beautiful timber rattlers and other reptiles and amphibians. There was no one at Hiner Springs and we had the whole campsite to ourselves. The water at the springs is spectacular. We were also met by 4 deer who just hung out at the campsite with us. The hike down Ramsey's draft was a bit difficult due to the fact that I was very sore, again, I'm out of shape! Crossing Ramsey's draft gets a bit harder as you go along due to the fact that the stream starts getting wider and wider. If you don't mind getting your feet wet, then it's no problem. It is important to note that there are many fallen trees along the trail, some of them pretty big. The trail sometimes gets hard to find both on the way to Hiner springs and on Ramsey's Draft trail. You just have to pay attention and you'll find it eventually. In conclusion, do not let this hike fool ya, it is a tough hike especially if you plan on doing the whole loop. Regardless, it is worth it. I recommend this hike if you are into various ecosystems, Virginia's native fauna and flora, beautiful sceneries, and combining it with a workout!

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 27, 2014
I did this hike as a two-day backpacking trip. Day 1: The first day of hiking was mostly along the Bald Ridge Trail which, as it's name implies, is along a ridge. There were some good views from there, especially looking off to the east, although some of those views will undoubtedly be blocked in the summer once the trees have leaves. Instead of camping in the upper reaches of Ramsey's Draft or in the Hiner Spring area, I took the Ramsey's Draft trail northwest away from Hiner Spring until I got to the junction of the Ramsey's Draft, Shenandoah Mt., and Tearjacket Trails (~1 mile from Hiner Spring off the topo map for this hike, but see the Shenandoah Mt. hike described elsewhere on this site). There is a nice spring in that area and nobody else was camping there so it was perfect for me. The trees haven't leafed out yet and it was close to a new moon so the stars were spectacular last night. Day 2: Easy hike from camping area back to Hiner Spring, with a worthwhile detour to Hardscrabble Knob. Nice views from the top. The trip down Ramsey's Draft itself is pretty, especially at the upper end of the canyon. In a way, it is also a sad hike with the many dead and dying hemlock trees serving as evidence for how awesome the canyon must have looked prior to the wooly adelgid killing the trees. As noted in the trail description, you will cross the draft many times. I was able to get across most crossings by hopping from rock to rock and there were only a few locations where the water over those rocks came over the toes of my boots. I didn't overtop my boots or need to change into water shoes at all, but that's not to say that the water isn't higher at other times of the year. There were several groups of boy scouts out in the woods, a group of 6 people +1 dog, a couple of guys, and one fellow doing minor trail maintenance. Most of the time, it felt like I had the place to myself. I'll be back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2013
Two others and I hiked this over memorial day weekend. When we approached the parkeing lot we were concerned about the traffic on the trail because of the all of the parked cars. Dont let this fool you, there are numerous trails and from what we could tell most people are not going up via the bald ridge trail. My buddy brought another guy with him and we are all pretty experienced hikers. This is not the hardest hike, however it is tough. The 11 miles up to hiner spring is pretty much straight up except for the last mile and half or so (after you take the left to head to the spring). When we arrived at hiner spring we saw one of the most pristine and beautiful backcountry campsites any of us had seen(we have seen a lot). Unfortunately there are some shorter routes to the spring and these routes provide easy access to these campsites and they were taken by some campers by the time we got there. I will say that the 11 miles to the spring pretty much wore us out so we did not make the extra trip to hardscrabble knob for the view (in hindsight we should have). We continued down Ramsey's Draft trail to find a small campsite followed by a little bit larger one right by the draft, we camped at the second site. The hike out in the morning is pretty much straight down off the mountain and relatively easy. Also this is where the majority of the creek crossing are so if you dont have water shoes you should be okay if you get a little wet as you will be on your way out. We had no problems finding the trail either. We noticed a number of other suitable campsites along the way that would be pretty easy to if you wanted to hike in this way and set up camp with the wife and kids. If you have kids bring them to Ramseys Draft, while the draft crossings will be a little challenging (make sure you check the weather) my buddies and I beleive the scenery and diverse fauna will make for a lifetime of memories for them. One last thing the views hiking up to the spring are not that great in the Spring or Summer because of the leaves.

By: JKS2013 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2013
With this the 5th time to the Wilderness area in as many weeks, I wanted to maximize my distance with this day hike, starting off at the Mountain House parking lot at 6:30. Three hours of a brisk pace brought me to Hiner Spring (my normal stop on the route as it is one of the few spots where I can get a cell signal and send out the "I'm okay" texts- yes, I recently received a spot and plan to activate as one of my weekend tasks). With the water level around the spring very calm, I made my way up to Hardscrabble Knob, only pausing for a few moments to enjoy watching a large buck crossing the forest in front of me. While I normally head back down the draft, I decided to continue through to the Shenandoah Mountain trail south to the Road Hollow trail heading back to the parking lot at the south end of the wilderness. The total loop around the wilderness took a little over 7 hours and I enjoyed the day without seeing anyone until I got back to the car (when I arrived, there was no one else- when I prepared to leave, the lot was full). For anyone looking for a trail that provides ever changing terrain, great places to camp, and the sheer joy of isolation, I highly recommend this location for a weekend outing.

By: BrianJB Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 20, 2013
Overall a great hike - did on a Monday/Tuesday, saw no one else on the trail until the hike out, and I had the Hiner Spring area to myself, along with lots of rain the first few hours. The ridge trail is a bit tricky to follow but in the end, remember - you're on a ridge, so you can't go too far off, right? Oddly enough, cell service (Verizon voice and data) along most of the first day as well, which allowed me to see that that thunderstorms I heard were indeed headed my way. . .there is also a lot of ascent that first day, so this one isn't for a first time out. The hike out along the creek is fantastic - very green, huge downed trees, very much a Pacific Northwest (or, for the geeks out there, Forest Moon of Endor) feel. Sadly, nearly all the hemlocks are dead but enough are still standing to get an idea of the truly majestic size they reached. Be warned the first mile or so is very rocky and slick (after rains, at least) so I, at least, didn't make the time I thought I would. I managed to stay dry with ankle-high boots until the last few crossings.

By: JKS2013 Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 10, 2013
As part of my journey into a mid-life crisis, I tackled this hike for literally the third time in as many weeks, each time making this a one day trip (although I would not recommend this to anyone who is not fully prepared for 17-20 miles of walking all at an aggressive pace. Hoping to start this hike at daybreak, I actually did not start until early afternoon and after the first few miles under sunny weather, the clouds quickly rolled in along with the rain. Taking a brief stop at Hiner Spring and noting the amount of water at that point, I decided to head down the draft instead of back along the spine of the ridge. Some thunder around me helped keep me moving and while the stream crossings the past two times were a breeze, the water was now up to knee/ mid thigh, so all hopes of staying dry were gone. About 2/3 down the draft (and with little light overhead) I came across a bear and three of her cubs (first time ever seeing them in the wild). After making my presence known and waiting a few minutes, I noted all the cubs climbing up a large Hemlock and I continued on my way. With the help of a flashlight and prior knowledge of the trail heading south, I made it back to the lot at 9 p.m. While I am in no way recommending this to a novice hiker or as a day trip, this has clearly become my favorite spot to hike (and where else can you spend almost an entire day in complete isolation?).

By: KnotHere Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
A group of 4 of us hiked this loop April 26-27. The 11 mile hike on the first day was the longest that 2 of them had ever hiked and we all enjoyed every step of it. I think as the last guy commented if I could rate this a 6 in difficulty I would. out of 5 is an exaggeration. This is a moderate 3. We covered the first day's 11 miles in 6 hours even with our many 'photo ops' and taking a break at the pond for lunch. The best part about the first day is that the scenery and trail is always changing so you never get bored. The rock scramble is a quick climb up a rock. A single rock. No repelling gear needed. The views are great since the trees have not leafed out yet. We also did not see any poison ivy as others had stated. We encountered only 1 other group who camped near the pond and was kind enough to leave trash everywhere. We packed it out for them. After that point, the trail description states 'moderate uphill for 1.7 miles' yeah, about that. It is more than moderate. After sitting down and eating it feels more like scaling mount Everest. You do loose the trail a few times but with some common sense you will pick it up by just stopping and looking around. Yes there are down trees but it only adds to the adventure. The trail comes to a 3 way junction at a new sign, make a hard left and after another couple miles uphill you can see the ridge you just traversed on your left then you will reach a clearing that is the Hiner Spring camping area. The spring was strong, cold and clean. We hung our hammocks and enjoyed the rest of the evening in peace with the exception of a few people looking for the Hardscrabble Knob trail. The next day we left camp in the rain and fog only to find a beautiful, mossy covered trail leading down to the draft. You will cross the draft 21 times!! We diligently counted to provide you with an accurate review. You're welcome! 2 of us wore Vibram Five Fingers the whole day and had no issues, those in boots found them full of water by stream crossing 15. All in all, this was a great trip and I would give it a high chance of going back with relatively new hikers.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
I did this hike as overnight solo backpacking trip and added a few side excursions to bring the total hike to around 20 miles. This hike gives you a ton of variety and as the last person commented you never get bored with the different terrain. I have previously done this same circuit as a day hike and found this hike as an overnight one of the most difficult I have done. I'm sure my 60+lb bag had something to do with it. The first two miles are pretty strenuous if you don't stop. The 5 miles along the ridge before the pond is constantly up and down. The next 2 miles aren't so bad. The last 1.5 miles until Hiner Spring isn't bad either. There were several groups camped out near the spring, but otherwise didn't see a single person the rest of the trip. I hiked up Hardscrabble Knob and although the view was limited I had the peak to myself. The next morning I hiked out the remaining 7 miles in the rain and crossed Ramsey Draft over 20 times. Because of the rain the water levels were just high enough to make crossing without getting wet very difficult. My shoes were soaked, but the path ran along the water which was nice. Overall, I highly recommend this hike. It is one of my favorites.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 26, 2013
As part of a college group, We choose this hike for a two day, over night hike. I was part of the average experience group. There were the fast hikers, semi-fast, us, than two others behind us.

I have to say. This was the toughest hike I have ever taken. I have never wanted to cry durring any of my back packing adventures but right after hitting the pond,and seeing that hill...I was ready to stop. Luckily, My team mates just urged me onward and another member and I trudged up that hill to the decline. We made it to our campsite by the stream, The one of the right you pass through when you go over the stream as you go down the valley. It was a good camp site.

I will say this. The ridge line is tougher than the two mile trek uphill. You are constantly be let down by each, "is this the end of the hills?" We lost the trail once but if you kind of just remember the trails go along the top, you can just navigate to the path again. Part of the ridge line is very steep and we saw many slips along the side of the trail that walks along the side of the mountain.

There aren't allot of views but the one at the top of the first part of the trail (two miles uphill) was amazing and there is a good campsite up there that doesn't have water. The downhill water crossings weren't hard but they were defiantly challenging as you had to ether walk the water or climb over trees to get across. I sat down on most of the trees to crawl >.
If I am to do this hike again, I would ether do the two mile up to park at the summit. Just bring extra water for cooking. Or I would do the two miles through the water crossings area and find one of the awesome camp sits right around there. They were huge and sooo much better than the one we stayed at.

Actually...I'm going back today with my dog and a freind to hike the water part. :-P

P.S: We ran into a few groups. One of them was (from my understanding) a group that runs this website? One of them offered me their stick to cross and they had crocks to go across the water. How did the crocks work out? I know they are super slippery for me. Anywho, Thank you hiking upward peoples. Now I feel like I met a movie star.

By: Nick Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 05, 2013
Probably the hardest hike I have ever done.  If I could give this a 6 in difficulty I would.  We normally hike at an average of 2.5-3 mph regardless of terrain, but this hike for the up mountain section reduced our pace to 1-1.5mph.  Keep this in mind if you attempt to negotiate this trail in the winter.  With 3 inches of snow and 10 miles up mountain, this is no hike for the non-conditioned hiker.  Down mountain we were able to maintain a speed of 2.5-3.5mph, with hiccups in our pace only during creek crossings.  Aprox a dozen creek crossings.  Besides the difficulty, the views were great, so many vistas.  Camping was sparce due to the snow coverage, so we ended up creating a new camp site, with only 30 minutes left before sunset.  The second half of the hike, the south side of the trail hiking down mountain was much easier and pleasurable.  It was entertaining seeing so many animal tracks.  This side of the forest is extremely lively.  We saw tracks for turkeys, big cats, bears, deer, dogs, and rabbits.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 11, 2012
A friend and I (hailing from Washington D.C. and Johnson City, TN respectively) chose Ramseys Draft because it appeared to be midway between our homes.  After the first boot-step into the wilderness, we knew we'd chosen well!  The trailhead was tucked off route 250 and was well-marked.  I hooked a right onto the Bald Ridge trail and ascended 2 miles to the ridge top before discovering a beautiful campsite only 1/4 mile on the Right. The sunset was amazing and the sunset was gorgeous. The following day we followed the ridge West, filtered some of the coolest, cleanest water from Hiner Spring (great camping opportunities here, especially for large groups) and camped at Hardscrabble Knob. There is a nice boulder field there and an abandoned cabin that was worth exploring. It was evident there hadn't been much activity there for quite a while, which made this spur hike well-worth the short climb. Day 3 led us back down past the spring and onto Ramseys Draft toward the trailhead. At the junction with Jerrys Run we opted to leave the wilderness for a brutal climb up to Crawford Knob in the GWNF. This is a beautifully rugged area with ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, scenic vistas and riverside exploration. The trail seemed to change endlessly from closed-in rhododendrun tunnels to knifes-ridge walks, fern gulleys to meadows. The Trails Illustrated map is very accurate and worth the $12. Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 30, 2012
This is a very nice, but somewhat difficult hike.  One issue we had was a major storm blew through on Friday and knocked down trees all over the place.  Some were so huge the trail is impassable, and we had to bush-wack our way around.  The clean up volunteers will have a lot of work to do.

Another issue we had was that a good portion of the trail was washed away on the steep side of the mountain and this made for a pretty difficult time with backpacks.  A lot of slipping and sliding on the edge of the mountain.

Another thing to be aware of is the stinging nettle, and insects!!!!  The water brings a lot of bugs. 

Overall this was a great hike and I would recommend it, and we will be going back again.  The trails are in serious need of maintenance due to overgrowth on the steep side of the mountain.  Also, there is no water for the first 6-8 miles or so of this hike.  We did the hike on a very hot day and nearly ran out of water (started with 2 liters).

The views are beautiful, the campsites are excellent, and it is a very peaceful hike.  If you use a hammock instead of a tent it will open your options to having a campsite with a great view, as none of the campsites we saw had views.

This would be a great hike in the fall.

By: Kat Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 16, 2012
If you're looking for a beautiful, remote but challenging trail, this is a very good one. We started mid-morning on Saturday, and hiked 11.0 miles to Hiner springs the first day. The first two miles of the trail are straight up, and well-marked (it is also a mountain-biking trail). However once you pass those first two miles the trail-markers are few and far between. Several times the only way we could tell where the trail continued was from a few crushed blades of grass. We stopped for lunch around 2pm, at one of the campsites. The trail itself is very narrow and in many places runs at a 30-degree angle to the mountain, so we had to wait awhile to stop for lunch in order to find somewhere we could actually sit down. We only ran into two small groups the entire day, which was nice. Prepare for a lot of bushwhacking if you take this trail!

We camped about a quarter-mile from Hiner Springs, right alongside the Draft. Really beautiful terrain, lots of wildlife, and good sources of water (as long as you purified it).

Sunday morning we got up at 6 and were on the trail by 7. Compared the to previous days trek it was very easy, a gradual downhill. Our pace was about twice as fast the second day simply from the trail also being better maintained.

A note: once you pass the pond, follow the trail with the white blazes (there is no other trail there). It may seem wrong but if you follow it, it will take you to a sort of triangular crossing, where you make a sharp left. We thought we were lost until we got to that point, because the trail markers changed. Once you make the sharp left, the yellow diamond markers pick up again.

Great trip, we had a blast!

By: Jon E Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 19, 2012
Completed the loop + quick little side trip to Hardscrabble knob. Took the 3 of us about 8 hrs, including a stop for lunch atop the Knob.

Absolutely beautiful hike! We all commented on the continuously changing scenery along the route: E side of loop is lush and has a fantastic view on the ridge--lush, green carpet of rolling hills below! There is some hemlock toward the north, though not nearly as much in Jerry's Run. Lots of wintergreen carpeting the floor--berries are edible and tasty...and leaves one feeling minty fresh. Large berry brambles growing, just starting to flower (no berries to snack on yet, darn!), especially at the north end. Mountain apples are just start to bud. Saw a few chunks o' bear scat...wonder what they are snacking on since berries and apples aren't ready for them yet? There's also large amounts of stinging nettles, especially on the creek (Draft) side toward the bottom. Lots of poison ivy too.

Not sure why some people on this forum and some fellow hikers/backpackers say the route is so difficult to follow and the turns are not obvious. This was our first time, and we pretty easy to navigate.

The trail is fairly obvious along the ridge, but keep your eyes open b/c a few times it criss-crosses from just to the E and just to the E and just to the W of the top of the ridge. While it is pretty obvious where the trail is, the overgrowth is definitely evident--there are parts where you have to wade through some hip-to-chest high weeds/grasses (careful for ticks, we pulled one off of one of our group members!).

At the far northern end of the loop, past the pond (which is teeming with tadpoles , newts, and fun little water beetles zipping about), and before Hiner Spring, you'll come to the intersection where the directions on this website say to make a hard-left turn. You'll see a beat-up, old wood-fashioned "Wilderness" sign w/ some of the letters missing where the sign is broken away. Also there is a fallen post marker with some old stapled state code on it. This is where you want to take tois the yellow (diamond) blazed path NOT the white blazed trail.

Just for curiosity sake (and b/c a group of backpackers told us "the spring is down there"), we followed the white blazed trail down about a mile--this is the dotted route that heads NE on the map. There is indeed a small spring that floods the trail going down that ridge, and it is beautiful there...but not sure where that ultimately leads. We backtracked back to the intersection and continued on our merry way.

Anyway, Ramsey's Draft is a true gem. It is beautiful and is a gorgeous wilderness. Some foot traffic, but not a lot for a spectacular cool and sunny Saturday. Probably my new favorite long day-hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 02, 2012
Great hike. I only saw two other people the entire time, and they were hiking together. I woke early and drove to the trail head. I got started at 8:00am, and took the trail up to the ridge first. I got blisters on my heels a mile in and switched to Chakos for the rest of the hike. There where a few places where the trail disappeared due to rocks and leaf debris, but as long as you follow the ridge it's fairly easy to pick up the trail again. The ascents up the various knobs aren't very steep. There's only one or two rocky sections that require some mild scrambling. As far as wildlife, it was squirrels, buzzards, and some Coyote droppings along the ridge.

The north end of the route is not maintained as well, and the trail is becoming overgrown with vegetation in some sections. I saw several piles of bear droppings along the far north section of the hike. I made it to Hinter Spring by about 2:30pm. I hit my only snag descending back into the valley from Hinter Spring. The directions on this site state "staying to the left of the stream". This is NOT correct. I stayed to the left of the stream, and ended up bushwhacking and scrambling along a steep embankment for over a mile. Everything I stepped on moved, sunk, or slid. It was miserable. It was only when I reached the bottom that I found the trail running down the RIGHT HAND side of the stream from Hiner Spring. Exhausted from the bushwack, I grabbed the first camping spot I found and set up camp. It was a nice spot near the stream. I hung my food from a near by tree due to the proximity of bear droppings.

I started down Ramsey's Draft around 8:30am the next morning. The far north of The Draft is still littered with felled trees, many of them blocking the trail. Climbing over/under the obstacles was a little tedious at times with a pack, but not horrible. There's just enough downed trees blocking the trail to make you really appreciate the ones that have been cut. The rest of the hike was pleasant. I was wearing sandals, so I didn't stress over how to keep my feet dry getting across. I don't think I could have made it through all the crossing with dry feet, so I highly recommend Crocks or Sandals while hiking along the Draft.

I did see a Northern Water Snake during one of the stream crossings. He popped his head up a few feet away from me, and I watched him for a while before he disappeared under some rocks (They aren't poisonous). It ended up being the highlight of the trip for me. Overall, it's a nice overnight hike. Most of the junctions aren't marked well, so make sure you have the written directions with you so you know which trail to take. If you can't pick up the trail descending from Hiner Spring, look for it on the RIGHT hand side of the stream.

By: VSOP Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Camped overnight at the trail head and hiked up the draft.  The draft itself was running pretty well and it was obvious that higher water had washed out the trail in some places and there were a lot of blow-downs.  We used terrain navigation, what beaten path we could find, and carins left by other hikers.  We counted 7 stream crossings of which one was tiptoeing  over a large downed tree and the other 6 required wading before we got to Jerry's Run.  We ended up just leaving our Crocs on and hiking a couple miles in them rather than repeatedly removing our boots.  The water was what you'd expect in December.  We took a left at Jerry's Run and scambled over a lot of blow-downs and minor stream crossings on the lower half of the trail before having lunch at what used to be Sexton Cabin.  The stone chimney and cement pad are all that's left.  We climed out to the Shennandoah Mountain trail on the ridge and made a right toward Hiner Spring.  Weather was great and the trail was open generally following a contour line.  There was also 3-4 inches of snow and small drifts in some places.  Lot's of sign of coyotes in the backcountry.  We didn't find any water at the the first campsite at a trail intersection so we hiked to Hiner.  Lots of water there and generally sheltered.  Two other small groups showed up within 15 minutes but there's plenty of space to camp.  Temp dropped into the low teens overnight.   Broke camp and began hiking back to the Shennandoah Mt trail at 0800.  Trail from the Jerry's run intersection back to the Ramseys Draft trailhead was open and there were even a few yellow blazes.  Lower half of the trail toward Ramseys Draft was steep with some switchbacks and actually ends up the draft near the first stream crossing.  Made it to the lot about 1145.  Forest Service wayside and restrooms at the trail head were open and well maintained.

By: PHIL Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 18, 2011
Friday 18 Nov 11, crossed the draft and camped on the far side across from the trail head/parking lot.  Hiked counterclockwise up to the ridge and the 11 miles to Hiner spring.  The section where the trail skirts the east side of the ridge was a little tough to follow.  The small lake was frozen on the surface.  Hiking temps were in the high 50's, with sunshine, no wind.  Both springs were flowing pretty good so there was plenty of water.  Twenty minutes down from Hiner spring, used to be a nice campsite with a fire ring next to the creek, but didn't see it.  There were quite a bit of new blow-downs since March 2011, so I guess I missed it or it was obliterated by blow-downs. We had the usual 16 crossings once you start walking on the 'flat' area.  Our group took about 4 hrs to walk the 5 miles from Hiner to the parking lot, and were amazed it took so long.  We had been backpacking and were in to rush, but no one thought we were walking that slow!

By: Julie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2011
Another fantastic camping trip.  Our large group went in on Friday and came out on Sunday morning.  We started out from the parking lot an hiked straight in.  The first draft crossing was difficult due to the water level.  We were able to find a large enough log for us to drop in the water to cross.  It was iffy but it worked.  We came to the first camping spot a little over a mile in and set up camp.  A great night for camping with a huge fire and temps in the 40's.  We mananged to find a second campsite just up the trail but next to the draft.  So on Saturday we packed up and moved our camp.  It was well worth the move.  The sound of a rushing stream in the background makes for some great sleep.  35 degrees on Sunday morning was a little brisk for my liking.  The trail to this site was all but gone unitl we cleaned it up.  With a great fire pit and a bounty of water it's hard to imagine a better site.  We have been to Ramseys Draft a number of times and were surprised at the number of people out there.  The solitude for this trail is not what it used to be, many hikers are finding out what a great place this is.  Can't wait til next year!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2011
This was an amazing, awesome, and beautiful hike. I met my buddy at the trail head Friday night, and we camped next to the parking area, not too bad of a spot. The next morning we woke up and hiked up the prescribed path. This was a very narrow and rigorous climb, but not too bad. The real workout comes when you start hiking up and down the various peaks. This part of the hike is no joke, hats off to anyone who can do this in a day - I run 20 miles a week and struggled up to Bald Ridge Knob. Also, it should be noted on top of the ridge there are various spots which one can get off of the path (we did this twice), you will realize your mistake when it becomes almost unbearable, just hike back up to the ridge and you will be fine. We did see a nice large pile of bear poo on top of the ridge, but never saw a single bear. We set up camp in Hiner Springs, some people have done some nice work on those sites, and left us a long log we used parts of to make a fire with. We were able to hike to Hardscrable knob that night, and I am glad we did, for this time of the year it is the only place with a decent view. That night at Hiner Springs we had a doe come up in our camp site, she scared me at first (I thought it was a bear, I couldn't see it, but I heard breathing and its footsteps). Anyhow, she was very interested in us, but not scared at all. The next morning we hiked down the Draft, and made several crossings my estimate is probably about 15 crossings, and both of us got our feet in the water on different crossings (just plan on this happening). We made it back to the car and ate some lunch at this fantastic spot in Churchville called T-Bone Tooters, I highly recommend!

By: BryanH Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 20, 2011
We chose to make this hike an overnight trip. We decided to hike across the knobs around to Hiner Springs and camp for the night. About 2 hours into the trip we encountered 2 small bears that hurried away from us as we approached. That night in Hiner Springs we were accompanied by 3 deer. They were not scared of us at all and came within 10 feet of us while we ate. The hike the next morning, back to the parking lot, was much easier as it was almost all down hill. This was a tough hike but we had a great time!

By: Husker75 Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Although this is a popular destination, we did not see a living soul during our three day stay here. We arrived late on our first day and hiked in 2.4 miles to a campsite at the intersection of the Ramsey's Draft and Jerry's Run trails. On day two, anticipating rain, we decided not to continue up the draft and take the Jerry's Run trail to the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, instead of the prescribed trip here using the Bald Ridge Trail. In short, this was a mistake, I would encourage you to continue up the draft trail, then return using the Bald or Shenandoah. There is no water on the Shenandoah Trail until you reach the headwaters of Ramsey's Draft. So you will have about 6 miles, mostly climbing, without much water. At the end of day two we camped at the intersection of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail and Sinclair Hollow Trail, this was a nice campsite with great trees for hammock camping. The final day was a 2 mile hike to filterable water, most of my party was completely out. The rest of the day was hiking the 6.4 mile hike down the draft, back to the parking area. Couple of notes: I counted 18 large draft crossing (beyond "ditch"size). The further South, the larger the crossings. Near the the drafts origin the first 5-6 crossings can be accomplished with your boots, but afterwards you will want to us water shoes, flops, etc... Also, although there has been recent trail maintenance (hats off to the volunteers!), you will need to climb over several fallen trees. Some of these you can hike around, but for others you will need to go "up and over" army training style.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 08, 2011
Drove up from Hampton, Va on Friday afternoon and camped at an established site just across from the abandoned green barn about 1/3 Mile up the Draft off the trail. After reading the reviews wasn't sure whether this was a day hike or best for an overnight. I believe it is a long day hike, but, if you're carrying a pack and walking slower, it is also a great overnight. It had been raining and the Draft was pretty high, no way to rock hop the many crossings at the trailhead or coming down the draft from Hiner spring. Hiked counter clockwise and camped about .5 mile past the spring. Had to grab my tennis shoes from my truck to cross at the trailhead Saturday morning and lugged them all day soaking wet. Crossed the creek at the trailhead at about 0830, walked slow and reached the spring about 3pm after several breaks. The entire day was 100 percent socked in by fog and clouds, zero visibility off the ridges and only about 200 feet visibility on the trail, and very cold. But the trail was gently sloped and very easy. The spring was flowing at the top of the ridge and really gushing the entire way down. The trail down was very easy which was not what I expected looking at the contours of my 7.5 min quad map. Kudos to the Forest Service or whomever cleared the path down from the spring because it was in fantastic shape, excepting a few very large trees which had recently fallen across the trail. Many places to camp at the top of the spring, only 1 site that I could see at .3 mi past the spring, and it was taken, camped at the next site about 20 minutes further down, around elev 3600. Rained all night, sun was shining on Sunday for the hike out and the 17, over the tops of my boots, crossings, did not bother trying to change shoes. The walk out seemed further than it was, only about 5 miles, but it took me 3 hrs, again, walking slow and enjoying the sunshine. Great hike, will return soon, and hopefully get sunshine, but will camp at the top of the spring.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 12, 2011
I'll start by saying that this was one amazing hike. Beautiful hike from start to finish. With that being said, the next thing that bares mentioning is how tough a hike it is. We ( my brother-in-law and I ) planned this as an overnight. You should to. We chose to hike Ramsey trail up to Hiner spring to camp for the night. If there is any water in the draft it runs cold and strong and with roughly seventeen creek crossings it takes a lot of effort and time. The old growth forest you begin to encounter at the drafts split at Hardscrabble knob still exists but unfortunately the large hemlocks have mostly died, at least along the trail. The trail is rough and strewn with large rocks ( tough footing ) that are slick. It would take a very fit day hiker quite a bit of time to complete the suggested loop that includes Bald ridge around. Once you reach Hiner spring your rewarded with a really cool place to camp. Before leaving the next morning I suggest stocking up on water as it becomes scarce from here on. A map of the wilderness and compass really help to guide you as the trail is only marked by the occasional rock cairn up to Bald ridge, it then starts a long string of spread out yellow diamonds until you finish up back at the Mountain house parking lot. You use Bridge Hollow to your right off of Bald ridge and its about two to three miles descent to end with one last ford of the creek to put you back where you started. The views along the Bald ridge are absolutely amazing as the trail literally follows the ridge with six or seven knob traverses all the way. The trail itself is rough in places so pay attention to each and every step. I had plenty of occasions to turn an ankle. I should mention the pond that you'll encounter in the beginning stages of Bald ridge. It was full of Frogs that looked to be mating as well as what seemed to be some sort of hibernating salamanders. I would not drink from it. There are animal tracks all around it and I dare say ( I'm not a biologist ) its contaminated to a non-drinkable level. All and all the risk and strain it takes to complete are well worth it. Early spring or late fall when the leaves have dropped will offer you the greatest views. Understand that these times are typically the highest water levels along the draft making for difficult crossings. We were able to cheat the creek a few times with fallen trees but I suggest crossing where the cairns are placed so you don't end up wasting more time looking for what may end up a more difficult act. We stripped off the boots and socks and rolled up our britches using a walking stick for a third leg and braved the freezing torrents to carry out our ultimate goal. The completion of one of the most rewarding hikes Va. has to offer. Prepare, and go for it. You'll be glad you did.

By: IndianGuide Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 27, 2011
Great hike but be sure to ford the stream at the designated spots. We thought we could go further up and find a place to keep our feet dry but got a nasty surprise when we got into heavy brush and steep cliffs that were all impassable. We spent lots of time and effort bushwhacking when we could have been walking on an almost level trail on the other side. We finally gave up and waded across and finished the hike with wet feet.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 19, 2011
This hike is beautiful, but it can be very easy to get lost!  The first time we hiked it one year ago, we went up Ramsey's draft first, camping at one of the many awesome campsites along the stream the first night.  The second day we reached Hiner Spring, then headed east along the trail until the trail junction with Springhouse Ridge, and took a right to head across the 6 knobs.  We lost the trail at the end of the ridge line (only about two miles from the end!) and had to hike back across all the knobs to Hiner Spring.  We realized later that the trail took a sudden down turn to the east, to go down and around the Peak and back to the parking lot.  Careful here!!!!
When we hiked this time, we approached from the other side of the loop, as described in the directions above.  We made it up the Peak, saw where we had lost the trail last year, and then headed northeast across the ridge and the 6 knobs.  We passed the pond and continued north for a few miles, then COMPLETELY missed the left turn to head to Hiner spring.  Instead, we stayed straight, descending 1.5 miles down the Springhouse Ridge trail to Todd's Camp.  We camped here for the night along a river, then had hike back up (a very tough ascent!) the next morning.  The turn off we missed is at a wooden sign that says Wilderness, and the path to Hiner spring appears to only be a washed out gully - careful here as well!  Whenyou turn left at the Wilderness sign to head to Hiner Spring, you will see a yellow blaze hidden behind a bend in the trail that tells you you're on the right track.  Do not follow the white blazes down the Springhouse Ridge Trail, unless you want a tough hike back up!
All in all, this is an AWESOME hike, but bring a good map and a compass!!!

By: bennington200 Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I day hiked a loop around the Ramsey's Draft boundary with a friend, hiking north on the Bridge Hollow and Bald Ridge Trails, then returning via the Shenandoah Mountain Trail and Road Hollow Trail for a 19 mile loop. The entire loop took 8 hours, and we had to race the increasing darkness at the end of our hike! The leaves were all down, so the views were great. The trails were all in good shape, though Hiner Spring remains dry. The pond at the Dividing Ridge Trail has water, but I am not confident of its quality. Even Ramsey's Draft at Mountain House was nearly dry.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 03, 2010
This is such a wonderful hike and an easy day hike should you not plan on overnighting. My wife and I did the loop in 8 hours with several stops -- I'm 60 so you know we weren't racing. Last time we tried Bald Ridge trail was June 2009 and we turned around tired of fighting all the brush and briars blocking the path. With the leaves down and brush back it was a breeze. More yellow diamond trail markers have been added -- some key ones in some spots where it can get confusing -- and pegs in the ground indicate where water breaks and other trail improvements are coming. Often along the trail the views are almost 360 and nothing manmade -- no power lines, roads, structures, clearings -- are in view as far as the eye can see., just mountains and trees. The rhododendrons are thick past the pond and must be glorious when in bloom. The big surprise was how clear the once difficult stretch from Hiner Spring down Ramsey's Draft to the parking is now. No more scrambling over countless downed trees and losing the trail in brush and draft crossings (thanks to government recovery spending according to sign at trail head). We had enjoyed the Hiner Spring/Shenandoah Mountain trail loop often in the past but this will be our new favorite.

By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 18, 2010
I led a group of hikers around Ramsey's Draft the weekend of 9/18/10. It was a great hike and we couldn't have asked for better weather. I was surprised to find that Hiner Spring was dry as a bone. We did find some small places where water had pooled a few hundred yards down the Draft. Along the four-mile length of the river, you could find water, but you had to look hard. It was clear though, and drinkable.

Our route took us from the parking lot (where the river was totally dry), up to the eastern side, Bald Ridge Trail. The hike up was good and the trail was clear. There were sections of Bald Ridge Trail that were overgrown and off-camber which made the going a bit rough, but do-able. As another reviewer mentioned, there are orange stakes indicating planned work. The pond at the intersection of with the east-bound trail surprisingly still had some brackish water in it. I expected it to be as dry as the river. Maybe it's deeper than it looks. I wouldn't drink the pond water.

Once we got to Hiner Spring, we found the spring dry, but did find small pools of barely flowing water further downstream. I was happy to see that a lot of trail work has been done on the main trail since I was there in May! All the dead-falls have been cut, and the areas that were previously overgrown now are nice and wide. The main trail is now a pleasure to hike. Thank you to whoever did all that excellent work. You deserve recognition for your efforts.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 21, 2010
I hiked Road Hollow Trail to Shenandoah Mountain Trail then picked up Ramsey&rsquos Draft Trail near Hardscrabble Knob.


I’ve hiked this route many times before the last time was about four years ago. This is a challenging but very rewarding hike. I&rsquom happy to say that said the hemlocks are alive and well and I didn’t see any signs of the wooly ad algid.  Yea!!  Road Hollow Trail and Shenandoah Mountain Trail were in good shape but they obviously haven&rsquot done any maintenance on Ramsey’s Draft Trail in years.  The upper part of the trail (from just southeast of Hardscrabble Knob until the trail turns south) was really overgrown. You might want to consider bringing a machete, it is that bad. There was a lot of tree fall across the trail from Hardscrabble Knob all the way down to the trailhead, none of it cleared and some of it only lightly cut back, getting across or around some it is a real challenge.  Plus, the lower portion of the trail (from where it turns south to the trailhead) literally disappeared from time to time and I had to use my GPS to find it again.  The good news is that in spots I saw a lot of stakes and engineer tap and the stakes were marked in a way that indicated that they are planning on doing maintenance on the trail this summer (2010) so hopefully they’ll cut some of the vegetation and tree fall back.


Despite the marginal condition of Ramsey’s Draft Trail, this is a great hike and I highly recommend it.

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 02, 2010
We did this hike over a Saturday and Sunday, camping at a nice spot at the trailhead on Friday.  The Bald Ridge section had some nice views and the trail conditions were good for the most part.  There were some nice campsites along the ridge, but be aware that this section of the hike is very dry---the "pond" at the junction of Dividing Ridge was completely stagnant and I wouldn't pump from it unless you really had to.  We ended up getting a bit dehydrated as the temperature and humidity were high that day.

Hiner Spring was also very nice, though a bit crowded when we arrived.  We hiked down the draft a bit to a good campsite (there are several along the draft) and were able to cover about 11 miles the first day without trouble.  Sadly, the hemlocks along the draft are almost completely dead, and downed limbs and trees made trail conditions difficult at times, though by no means impossible.  The draft was also fairly low for us so the stream crossings weren't too difficult, though I certainly see how they could be with high water.  Many portions of Ramsey's Draft Trail were very smooth and clear and made for easy hiking.  I would saw the overall difficulty when we were out was moderate.

We saw some wildlife (a turkey, bear, and some dear) and wildflowers were in bloom.  We also spotted blueberry and blackberry bushes that would be a nice treat when in season.  Without the hemlocks, though, I'd say that this was a pleasant but unremarkable hike.  You can definitely get a sense of how big the trees are from the remains left behind but it isn't quite the same as seeing a live forest.  But overall a good trip with very nice camping.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 05, 2009
I slightly changed the route on Day 2, taking Shenandoah Mtn horse trail from Hiner Spring, then descended down to the draft via Jerrys Run trail. Parts of this trail below the ruins of a cabin are washed out or obstructed by huge fallen trees. By the time I reached the draft I was tired. Overall a great route, the trail was easy to spot, the water supply was OK. In 2 days I saw only 4 backpackers, 2 mountain bikers and large group of equestrians. I wonder why the deer at Hiner Spring are so unafraid of people? Is it a no-hunting area? 

By: sk Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 17, 2009

If you are coming from the north on 42, then  short cut on  SR 736 just south of Parnasus (SR 737 is a dirt road). After turning off 250 at the Mountain House Picnic area go straight past parking for the picnic area and use the parking area near the vehicle gate.  Water was high enough April 17 in Ramsey's Draft Right Prong at the trail crossing for the ridge trail to Big Bald Knob that one could not cross stone to stone. So, if you are not wearing knee boots, then, at the parking area, hike across the stream bed to a fallen tree to the right slightly downstream. If your balance is good, then walk across the tree. On the east side go downstream about 30 yards to a slight hollow that will take you up to the ridge trail. Hiking upstream on the left side of the loop to cross over and get on the ridge trail is not an option because the drop off on the east side of the stream is cliff-like in places, and you will be too far from the ridge trail.


By: Steve S Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 17, 2009

This was my first backpacking trip! A buddy and I spent friday through sunday hiking. The first day we got a late start and were a little rushed to make the pond area we intended to camp by sundown. It was very physically and mentally demanding, because every time we thought that we were ascending the final peak to our destination we were greeted with another knob. The views were beautiful however, but we were too rushed to enjoy them Fri. We were blessed to make our camp at the pond just at sundown and to have wood left for us by previous campers for a fire. There is a pseudo-pond / depression w/ muddy water on the left of the trail not too far before the actual pond. THIS IS NOT THE POND!!! THERE IS A REAL POND WITH PLENTY OF WATER IN IT!!! You will need to cover your H20 pre filter with a piece of cloth or coffee filter and some rubberbands so as not to clog it. The stary sky was a great reward for our efforts that day. The next day we headed to Hiner spring to camp. If you aare facing the pond the trail is to the right in the woods and goes straight up bald knob which is not really bald but thick w/ trees. It's a good idea to have a compass w/ you. While looking for tearjacket trail which is a hard left off of the baldridge / dividing ridge trail there is a trail that is a hard left that was not on any of our maps. It went North and the correct trail goes West. There is also an old wood sign at the correct turn that says Ramseys Draft Wilderness on it. Good spot to take a lunch break before going up hill a ways to Hiner Spring. We got there in about 3 hours and found plenty of wood for a fire and plenty of spots to camp. While cooking dinner 9 deer came down about 15 yards away to eat and drink at the spring. That was Saturday. Sunday we hiked down the draft and back to our car. This wasn't as physically challenging as the 1st day. But there were about 12 stream crossings and we had wet socks. 4 or 5 we walked across blowdowns of huge trees across the draft. We had to go over/around countless blowdowns and many areas have alot of rocks that slow you down a bit trying not to twist your ankles. There are a number of campsites in the draft also that we werent aware of. This was a great first trip, but very demanding physically over all.


By: SSW Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 17, 2008
As the other reviews make reference too, hiking ramsey's draft is a very rewarding and challenging experience but also can be difficult and frustrating due to lack of good blazes and signage.  We actually tried to do the hike back in the spring by initially crossing the river and then going up along the ridge.  This turned out to be a disaster from the start, as we crossed the river too far down stream, and ended up scaling the side of the ridge to find the beginning of the trail.  After hiking a little over a mile along the ridge, we thought we had passed the point to turn left on the 'bald knob' trail, so we turned around and hiked back to the parking lot, and then continued up the draft and camped along the river.  Hiking up the draft proved to be pretty wet, and my feet were completely soaked the entire hike.  That night a thunderstorm rolled in and a tree fell on our tent, nearly killing us!!  So, lessons learned....
 
1) if you are planning on hiking in along the ridge (which is my suggestion) make sure to stay on the west side of the river until you clearly see the trail turn right and cross the stream.  You can be sure you are on the trail after you cross the stream because it parallels the river for several hundred yards on a nice uphill slope and in the initial stages their are even rock 'stairs' which make the climb easy. 

2) When hiking along the ridge, it is extremely obvious when you get to the bald knob trail to turn left, there are several signs on a tree, and it is nearly impossible to get lost on the way to this intersection, as their is no where else to go and the trail is well worn and blazed. 

3)  In the spring the water will be high, prepare to get wet... when we redid this hike in the fall it was bone dry, so that was nice for the hike, but bad for fishing

4) When setting up camp, be aware of the trees around you!!!  we should have taken warning when we saw all the downed trees along the path.


Fall hike:  we returned in the fall to do the hike again, going in along the ridge.  Most of the brush was dead, so it was fairly straightforward to follow the trail as it zig-zags along the ridges.  It was difficult to tell where we were the entire time along the ridge until we finally reached the pond (in my opinion, would be a great place to camp). 

The trail continues around the northern side of the pond (you don't have to walk around the pond, just next to it for a few yards to find the trail) and the trail starts to go uphill for several hundred yards.  Eventually you get to a rock outcropping which you have to climb over.

I never noticed the top of 'bald knob', but eventually you come to to a 'Y' intersection at which to go right, as the trail left will soon disappear into brush (i suggest taking it for a minute just to make sure).  Go another 1-1.5 miles downhill and eventually you will get to a sign and board which point towards the trail leading back to hiner spring. 

The trail to the spring was easy to follow in the fall, but i can imagine late spring and summer being very difficult as the trail goes through a lot of brush, and is slightly uphill until you get to the 'spring' clearing.  We made camp at the spring, and actually cooked steaks, onions, and potatoes.  We did a poor job of cleaning up the steak grease, and got really excited about the prospect of a bear coming that night.  However, despite our attempts, we did not see any bears the entire trip (though we did put a bear bag up high enough that a raptor couldn't even get to it)!  Their was a family of deer around our tent the entire night though, and they are definitely not shy of humans, as they walked within several feet during the night many times.

Along the ridge we saw several grouse, saw some bear droppings, and some horse droppings, but did not run into a person during the hike in.  Hiking out along the draft was easy, just follow the stacked up rocks along the draft to see where to cross.  In most places their are trails on both sides, so if you miss a crossing you can still find the original trail again.  The best places to camp are along the river here.  Hiking out on a saturday, we passed many groups hiking in along the river, of which I assume most were heading to the spring.  The spring is a great place to camp, but if you are looking for more solitude I would camp along the draft or up on the ridge by the pond.

Overall a good hike, just make sure to get a really good map, compass, and read the reviews on this website!

By: Mark G Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 16, 2008

On 8/16/08 I left the Mtn. House parking lot around 1:30 pm hiking solo.  I crossed the Draft -- almost totally dry with zero flow -- heading east, and ascended the Bald Ridge Trail.  Goal was to make Hiner's Spring as a campsite and return the next day via Ramsey's Draft.  During the first two miles on Bald Ridge Tr., I encountered three mountain bikers but saw no other people the rest of the hike.  (Don't know if that part of the trail is in the Wildnerness Area, in which any vehicle use, including bicycles, is prohibited.)  Didn't see anyone else for the rest of the trip.  The trail was overgrown in parts but generally presented no navigational challenge until I began searching for the "sharp left" past the pond mentioned in the Hiking Upward trail description.  I never found the intersecting trail.  I got as far as a very brief rock scramble ascending about 10 feet -- after passing the last yellow diamond blaze I saw -- which led, within 1/4 mile, to a campsite nearly overgrown with mtn laurel/rhododendron.  The trail appeared to dead end at the campsite.  The location of the sharp left (westward) turn given in Hiking Upward, Yochi's 6/8/08 review, and the trail description in "50 Hikes in Virginia" all differ and none got me to the intersection.   I was running out of daylight and lacked a compass so did not attempt bushwacking to get to Hiner's Springs.  If anyone has guidance on where the sharp turn occurs, I'd appreciate it. 

I wound up camping at a bivvy on Bald Mtn Peak with decent views, especially of a spectacular orange "bad moon" (full) rising over North Mtn. around 8:30 pm.   On 8/17/08 I returned to the parking lot via the same Bald Ridge Trail.  I left camp at 7:00 am and arrived at the lot around 10:30 am. 

This is bear country.  Througouht the trail on Bald Ridge proper, I encountered lots of bear scat of varying vintage.  Particularly in high brush or mountain laurel thickets, I made noise and scared off a couple of bears on 8/16.  Bears came to the campsite twice during the night and I saw three bears the next morning.  Six of the seven bears were juveniles around 100 lbs, but one was an adult, about 200 lbs, feeding in a tree until it heard/smelled me and then skedaddled. 

I also saw grouse in two areas (including a covey of at least eight birds), a raven, a smooth green snake, and deer (does).  I heard veeries, peewees, warblers, and a pileated woodpecker, besides more common birds.  A few hemlocks dotted the Ridge; perhaps 25-30% suffered from the adgelid.  Cinnamon fern scented the ridge plateaus, and in some spots the hickory and maple saplings showed signs of fall color.  I wish I knew more about plant identification because the habitat boasted plenty of flowers and trees I didn't recognize.  Views along the ridge were good, especially Eastward, with very little evidence of human encroachment.   Winter views west and northward should be fine.

I did not think any of the trail posed more than a moderate endurance challenge. (I'm out of shape now -- this was my first aerobic activity in the last two months due to recovery from an injury -- although usually I do a lot of backpacking and trail running.)  The biggest problem -- after my inability to locate the trail junction -- was overgrowth, mostly saplings and small hardwoods, but that actually added to the fun in my opinion.  Water was absent throughout the trail.  What I took to be the "pond" mentioned in the guides -- an oval depression about a foot deep and 30 feet across at its widest point, just north of Gordon's Peak -- was completely dry and filled with a noticeably lush variety of foot-high, grassy weed.  (Perhaps I misidentified this depression as "the pond" mentioned in the guides, which in turn led to my not finding the trail to Hiners Spring.)   I suggest bringing at least two liters of water to get to Hiners Spring; I had two liters and was rationing it on the return trip.  It was in the low to mid 80's both days, sunny, winds about 5 mph during the day with slightly higher gusts, and humidity around 40-50%.

All in all, a delightful hike, especially the wildlife (one of the best hikes ever in that regard).  I'll return to find the Hiner Spring trail when I have more daylight available.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well, this was not only my first backpacker, but I also went solo.  It was a great experience overall.  After reading some reviews of nettles and bugs, I made sure to wear pants and spray.  I didn't encounter a major problem with either, although at various spots I was quite thankful for the bug spray.  Gnats, mostly.

The trail is kind of sketchy at many points. On Gordon's Peak (I think that's where I was) I lost the trail for about 10 minutes but continued zig-zagging up the ridge until I crossed it.  Hiners Spring is a great camping spot. Coming down the draft there is a maze of trails, just make sure you never are more than a hundred yards or so from the stream and you'll find your car ok.  The trip up to Hiners Spring took me 6 hours exactly and coming back down the draft was a little over 3 hours.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 09, 2008
My 12 yo son and I  hiked Ramsey’s on 9-10 July, doing the loop Ramsey’s Draft/Shenandoah/Jerry ‘s Run.  First thing I would emphasize is to make sure you have a hiking pole for this-you’ll be thankful you had it for reasons already mentioned by others. Secondly, IMO, avoid Jerry’s Run, due to the extensive nettles and the newly fallen hemlocks you’ll need to scramble over. At one point, we even lost the trail on it. Other posters cited the same problem on Ramsey’s, but we had no such issues. The trail on Ramsey’s was fairly easy to follow, and moderate/easy to hike, depending upon the section.  Water level in the draft was very low, no water even flowing near the parking lot, though it increased higher up. We didn’t investigate where it was going. Camped the first night at Hiner Spring, after a 6 hr walk from Mtn House. If you can’t make it that far, there is a nice site at the 2915 (believe that’s the correct elevation) benchmark, after that the trail starts going up. The second day we completed the route, in 8 hrs and I would have to say we ‘d skip Jerry’s if we had to do it again, and go back via Road House. We saw no one, other than a pair of men horseback on Shenandoah. Shenandoah is a nice steady downgrade generally, through parts of old-growth hardwood – a little surprised to see such large oaks that high up on a ridge  I have wanted to do this hike since the late ‘80s and now sorry I didn’t avail the opportunity sooner. Very few of the larger hemlocks remain living. The result is that with new light hitting the floor, small volunteer birch are taking over, which made Ramsey's trail feel like walking through a row of corn in some places. We did see a nice variety of wildlife, including owl, several species of snakes,  various amphibians ( one of  which I am still working on identifying), and a variety of birds . There is a need now, and increasingly so, for trail maintenance due to deadfalls across Ramseys and especially Jerry's. Cannot justify a 4- 3.5 at best.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 29, 2008
We left from the parking lot, as I have read here and in a guide book.  We followed the trail as best we could, crossing over the creek several times.  The water levels were very, very low at this time of year.  We did see some rock towers, maybe 1 to 2 feet high, that were trail indicators.  We passed the rock chairs near a campsite but then encountered tons and tons of stinging nettles!  They were so bad that we turned back.  We made it as far as a fairly open area, maybe a 1.5 hour hike from the parking lot.  We were wearing shorts and t-shirts and now I would go back with long pants, long sleeve shirt and Off spray.  There were tons of gnats, etc.  The trail was difficult to follow.  Any guides you all recommend???  Thanks!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 20, 2008
For what Ramsey's Draft lacks in spectacular mountainside views, it more than makes up for with wildlife and challenges. Don't let the first and last 3 miles of this trail fool you into thinking you are in for an easy journey, for the 11 miles between are going to be some of the most challenging you have experienced!

Following the guide from www.HikingUpward.com, my first steps were in a crossing of the draft. after which, at 7:00pm i started the 2 miles up hill. Bearing Left onto Bald Ridge and continued for about 300 yards I came upon a grassy clearing. This is where I set up camp, made dinner, hung my food stuffs, and fell asleep. Some time in the night I woke up to some .. breathing.. that was not mine :-) I had a visitor, bear! Watching this animal wander around for .. a while .. I shook the tent and off he/she went off to somewhere else.

Morning of the 2nd day started at 5:45am. I had a quick breakfast then off along Bald Ridge to the pond. This stretch of trail was overgrown to the point that to guide my self i had on long sleeves and pants, a hat, and sunglasses, all to protect me from the overgrowth. Several times i found myself feeling lost but the longer i was on this section of the trail, the more i became accustom to not seeing where i was going. about 4.5 hours later i popped out of some overly thick brush, that was growing well past my 6'1" height, right onto a campsite next to the pond.

At the pond I observed hundreds of salamanders, toads, and tadpoles, but the water had so much algae growing in it that I could not filter it, nor did I feel comfortable using chemicals to clean it. Out of water and very hot, i headed down Dividing Ridge (Blazed as a double white, due east of the pond). I am going to put this as clear as I can, Dividing Ridge trail is STRAIGHT DOWN for about 1.5 miles, at which point you will see a flowing creek / stream off to the left. This was an excellent water source, clean and running, also provided me with a chance to hop in and cool off!! Now, remember what I said about "straight down", yep, you have to go back up now. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to walk Dividing Ridge unless you are out of water!! because you will want to lay down at the pond for 2 hours and catch your breath after coming back to Bald Ridge. BUT, so you know, Dividing Ridge is the last point you can get water until Hiner Spring, which from the pond is all but 100% uphill and completely overgrown.

Continuing on Bald Ridge was easly. the trail is not marked but it is well worn. Follow the pond to the north east and you will see a dirt path cut into the grasses, this is where you enter. Following this path, which was overgrown also, you will clear off when you reach the top of Big Bald Knob. you will know you are at the top because a jet trail to the right follows not but 30 yards to a small rock out cropping and a minuscule view of the mountain ranges to the east. Stand on your toes and you just might get high enough to see some of the valley. Back on Bald Ridge trail, you quickly re-enter the overgrowth that will completely encompass the trail for the majority of your hike to Hinter Spring.

Breaking out of the brush into Hinter Spring was one of the most rewarding parts of this entire hike. This area is covered with grasses and ferns for what could be well over an acre area. Here is where i set up for my 2nd night on this trail.

Hinter Spring brought in several deer. There was one very large and healthy buck that kept coming back into the grass not even 10 yards from my camp. He always gave you plenty of warning before he arrived by snuffing and sniffing so loud it sounded like an elephant approaching. this occurred several times at dusk and in early the early morning. Besides this buck, there were several beautiful doe that came in to drink. their approach was silent and cautious. At any sign of movement they would step back and white tail it out of the area. Before sunset, take the 3/4 mile one way hike to the summit of Hard Scramble Knob. Along this trail you will find more camp sites then an old fire tower that is laying in decay. but for a dusk hike, this is perfect. A sip of some warming drink :-) and off to bed.

In the morning, there was the sound of a trickling creek. It rained on and off through the night, which always makes for a sound sleep, and the creek had 100% more water flowing than the previous night. the wide expanse of this area made it the perfect spot to set my hammock and eat some oat meal for breakfast. A few more visits from the deer and a full belly i packed up and headed down the final leg. 4.5 hours of down hill and creek crossings, a few slips and falls on the wet rocks, back into overgrowth and fallen trees, i made it back to the truck.

My total on foot hike time for this, including my detour to water on Dividing Ridge, was 12 hours and 30 minutes.

In conclusion, if you are an experienced hiker with well rounded survival skills, this trail will offer you many navigational challenges, supply concerns, and just an overwhelming feeling of "I DID IT" when you reach the end in one piece. Would I do this again? YES. When? Early Fall to Late Fall  why? so i can walk this trail without the leaves and over growth. However, I really enjoyed the endless challenges that i was faced with on this outing. Happy Trekking!!

By: Yochi Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 08, 2008
Had a great time on this hike over the weekend.  It was a bit of a challenge with the long distance, but I was able to do it in two days.  Not many people actually do the ridge hike, we only saw people once the trail got down to the creek.

After the pond (where I camped, it was nice a quiet) the first trail junction you get to is NOT the one to go left at.  Although according to this write up it is the turn to take, if you go left from this junction the trail very quickly disappears (it is completely overgrown and not passable without lots of bushwacking!).  Instead follow the white blazed trail to right, downhill, for another half mile and you'll get to another junction with a sign labeling the edge of the wilderness area.  Take the hard left here and you're the easy-to-follow trail up to Hiner's Spring.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 23, 2008
This was a great two-day hike which I highly recommend, especially this time a year with the great views and the solitude you can find there. The ridge walk was a challenge, but you are rewarded with spectacular views for miles as there are no leaves blocking the sweeping views to the East. If you wanted to break it up, I think the pond up on the ridge would make a good camping spot. I ended up camping about a mile from Hiner Springs on Ramseys Draft. The site was ok, but I think there are better sites out there. I didn't see anyone the whole weekend, so it looks like the crowds I had been reading about must come later. The water levels of Ramseys Draft didn't pose any problems, though my poles helped my navigate the many rock hopping crossings so if you have them, definitely bring them along. The trail is badly in need of some maintenance. With the plight of the hemlocks it may be too difficult to keep up, but there are a lot of downed trees on the trail which have to be navigated around. I would love to come here in the Spring and try do some fishing. One final note, if you are craving a burger and shake when you come of the trail, there is a great place in Staunton called Wright 's Dairy Rite which I would highly recommend.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 10, 2007

A great hike!...  No  problem crossing Ramesy's, it was totally dry and there was a little water trickling at hiner spring,  we hiked down to camp Todd and was able to get water there.  Which was not too much of a out of the way.

Ramsey's trail is very overgrown with nettles and other growth, don't forget your pants and deet.

I would recommend camping at the pond close to bald knob for a star gazing!

It is sad about the hemlocks, they are so big and beautiful. 


By: tawlk Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2007

I completely agree with the ratings you have given this hike.  At first we were skeptical with camping being a 5, but as you continue down the draft I have never seen so many established sites.  It looks like a lot of people hike straight in from the parking lot to camp along the stream.  This review is for Memorial Day Weekend, so it is hard to judge the solitude, and even though the parking lots were full I’m sure other hikes were worse.

That first day really tests your endurance with the ascents to several peaks.  My number one suggestion is to carry enough water for a strenuous 10 miles.  My wife and I went through 3.5 liters each, rationing the last mile or two before Hiner Spring – the first water source.  But, it was 85-degrees, practically no breeze, and I feel we were keeping a decent pace (10.8 miles in just over 6 hours including lunch and snack breaks).

The second day tests your agility to rock hop across the draft too many times to count.  We almost managed to stay dry, but there is always one or two times when your footing wasn’t quite as secure as you would like it to be.  :)   I have to half agree with the review about stinging nettles.  Both my wife and I wore shorts and managed to navigate without incident, but there are a lot along side the trail.  If we both don’t use trekking poles, I’m sure it would have been worse.

This is a great hike and I highly suggest it.  I look forward to hiking it in the fall or spring so that we can take advantage of some of the vistas the ridge has to offer.
 
Thanks for the website – definitely the best one out there for this region.


By: Scot Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 22, 2006
Actually, I didn't do the loop this time, but we came down the Draft after ascending Hardscabble the day before. I love this hike (done it, or a variation thereof, three times in the past year), but poles are mandatory, as is a bottle of Gold Bond medicated foot powder. I would recommend taking a pair of camp shoes (e.g., Keens), but not just for chillin at the campsite... you'll be glad you have them if there's water in it the Draft... your feet will get soaked as you cross back and forth to stay on the trail. Put everything in ziplock bags before you stuff your pack.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 07, 2006
Take a good map and a compass... GPS would have been better. We arrived at the draft to find that it was flooded.  My buddy and I decided to take the Shenandoah trail around the draft, therefore doing the hike back-wards to your directions.  Once there the trail is not marked very well, and there were many times I thought we were lost for good.

Campsite at Hiner Spring was great, but if it has been raining at all, all the sites become streams that feed the spring.  Very wet and very cold.

Next morning go back to the first knob, then descended to the pond.  There we were unable to find the trail at all, even after looking for an hour or so and asking a few hikers about it.  Made the decision to descend down to a gravel road and hike back into town. 

If you are going to do this one in reverse get some GOOD directions and stick to them.  Signs are marked down everywhere and there are many long, unmarked spots that can get a little spooky, if you know what I mean.  I'll be back though!


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 17, 2006
Do not go on this hike without long pants and long sleeve shirt!  The area has become completely overgrown with stingiing nettle plants.  I ended up climbing the riverbed to avoid the huge areas (100's of feet of them overgrowing the Ramsey Draft trail).  If you want to get up to this area, I strongly suggest using Shenandoah trail instead.  It was clear. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 24, 2005
I'm doing the Ramsey's Draft Hike this weekend. I've hiked the trails around this area before and the trails in Smoky Mountains as well. What I'm looking for are some tips concerning the trail. Usually when you research a trail you find several key reference points and such to keep you on the trail, however, I'm looking for info on some unexpected things to expect that will make the trip go smooth without any confusion. If anyone has any tips, please pass them on. Thank you.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 20, 2005
This has been on my list of Things to Do for 4 years now and this past weekend I finally got to lead a group of 8 through this wilderness area. We took a different approach than described here. On the first day we started at 12:00 and hiked up Ramsey's Draft. The water was low so the crossings were not difficult. Most of the good camping spots were already taken so we continued on to Hiner's Spring. One tent was set up right in the middle of the field so we crossed the spring and made camp under a couple of the remaining giant Hemlocks. This proved to be the worse of the trek as it was hot and humid in the draft and the last mile seemed almost staight up along an extremely rocky trail. The next day we hiked up to the Shenandoah Mt. Trail and followed it south and then turned onto the Bridge Hollow Trail to complete the loop. All along the ridge we were greeted with well groomed trails covered either in grass, pine needles or leaf mulch. There were few rocks to be had until the final 2 mile descent. More importantly, we had a constant breeze with little humidity so we were able to mantain a good pace. We hiked about 9.5 miles w/packs in 5 hours counting our breaks.

By: Philip Hamm Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 05, 2005
Our small group followed the hike described here at hikingupward to Ramsey's Draft. What a wonderful place! We were disapointed that the pond at the trail split on Bald Ridge was a terrible water source, we were counting on it and got there at dusk so had to pump and camp. Looks like the filter did it's job though the water was brown. :-P There's a great campsite just above Hiner Spring, make a left off of the trail up to Hardscrabble Knob to find it. Lots of grass and lots of places to put a hammock up. We spent the day there, I had a great nap. We hiked up to Hardscrabble for lunch and dinner. There was a family of deer hanging out around the campsite most of the day and night including a poor deer with what looked like a very advanced case of skin cancer. The trip down the draft was nice, but there is so much blow-down trees and nobody really takes care of the trail. I definitely agree with the 5 difficulty rating on this hike! The tall old Hemlocks are hurting bad from the agelid (sp?) infestation. Many of them are dead but there are many still alive, too. Overall, a great time and a great, but very difficult, loop. Highly recommended!!!!

By: N.A.M Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 03, 2005
This was a fairly dificult hike but if your strong you should be able to complete it in a day. My friend and I hiked it in about 7-8 hours. Watch for that hiner springs left. We walked past it and had to back track about a mile uphill just to get back to the junction. But overall a hard day hike. Good luck!

By: Natasha Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 15, 1913
We did this circuit in reverse.  We don't do ascents well and much appreciated the gradual climb up the draft.  We camped about 0.6 miles from the trailhead on Friday night.  Continued on up the draft the next day, losing the trail at the first crossing.  If you've made it to the pink flagging on the trees left of the draft, you've gone too far.  Just cross and you'll pick up the trail on the other side.  WEAR PANTS!  You will go through fields of waist high stinging nettle many times.  The blowdowns were much worse than the last time I was in this area in 2009.  While it may only be 6 miles to Hiner Spring, you definitely get a workout in climbing over and under logs.  We camped at Hiner Spring and had the place to ourselves for the night. The herd of deer joined us but kept their distance.  Sunday we hiked up to the Bald Ridge Trail on our way back to the cars.  This trail is very overgrown in many places, with 6 foot tall bushes, ferns, and other tall plants hiding the trail.  We lost the trail once and had to backtrack.  We missed the trail dropping down below some rocks that goes along the side of the mountain after passing The Pinnacle.  The 11 mile hike back to the car is definitely a workout.  We saw more wildlife on this trip than any trip I've been on before:  bear, doe with baby fawn, herd of deer, water snake, rattle snake, tree snake, turkey hen with young, a bunch of grouse with young, and lots of butterflies.  Despite the overgrowth and cuts and scrapes from so many blowdowns and thorny bushes, I love this area and will return again.

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