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Hiker Comments for the Spy Rock Hike - 1 to 57 of 57   
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By: Snakebit12 Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 28, 2019
Our group did our annual trek to Spy Rock this week. As usual, we started at Crabtree Meadows which makes this hike about 8 miles in length with 2,000' ascent. This is a tougher hike than starting from the fish hatchery but one does avoid Spy Rock Road which is not very pleasant. The 4 mile drive on Meadows Lane to get to Crabtree Meadows is also not very pleasant - 4WD strongly advised. The turn off for Meadows Lane is 1/2 mile east of the fish hatchery.

The hike along the AT is excellent - the trail is in great shape and is a nice walk in the woods. Very impressed with the re-routing of the ascent up the rock - well done. We picked a sunny day so the view was great with the changing colors.

A really great hike that has improved with the outstanding work of the volunteers.

By: Greg Dickie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 7, 2019
This is one of my favorite hikes.  The summit is beautiful in every season.  Since the last time I hiked this trail, the path leading to the summit from the AT has been greatly improved.  It is now clearly marked and makes for a much safer climb.  Also it helps protect an environmentally sensitive area.  Many thanks to the volunteers who worked on this project.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 16, 2019
A lot of things have improved since the last review! There are no more "No Trespassing" signs in your way - some of the side roads have signs like that, but the road up to the AT is clear. There are a few crossroads that can make it a little confusing, keep an eye out for blue blazes.

The paths around Sky Rock itself have changed dramatically. There is now a beautiful, well-marked, new path leading safely up to the summit.

Highly recommended!

By: Van Taylor Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
I decided to hike this as a sunset hike after Crabtree. It's not exactly as easy as a more populated trail because one of the new residents on private property put lots of no hiking/no trespassing signs on the fire road. I assume they will work that out with the national parks at some point because it's not going to stop people from hiking. The gravel road is very easy to follow but there are some places were people could go the wrong direction. If you are hiking upwards, follow the blue marks painted on the trees and always choose up. Once you reach the appilachian trail, turn left and there will be a fairly new sign that says ' spy rock 0.5' and follow that trail and the white paint until you reach a clearing with a grassy woods. The rock is very difficult to climb if you are unfamiliar with the rock because there are two ways to get up and down. The hardest is straight forward from the grass and requires some finesse and rock climbing skills to get your footing right and into rock crevices, and it has the highest risk of serious injury if you don't pick your footing well, also I wouldn't suggest going down from the top of the rock this way unless you wish to slide down. The other way is very easy to get down but not completely easy up. From the grassy area take a left on a somewhat visible dirt path around the rock and through some decently tricky rock and dense bush areas. There arent any significant climbing situations until you reach a dry riverbed on the opposite side of the rock from the grassy clearing. The real trick is to choose between a tough climbing situation or a really tough navigating situation. I assume the reason it isn't as beginner friendly is because there are numerous pieces of vegetation around the rock and to make it easier would cost the living environment. Overall it's a great hike but be sure to have a keen sense of adventure and navigation.

By: Nancy Parsons Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Many of the previous reviews were very misleading, like the trial itself. The trek began with scaling a 'No Trespassing' gate and trudging up a mile hilll, through private property, before the distinguished mile and half to spy rock. Once past this and on National Parks property, the concerning lack of signs made navigating to the rock confusing and dangerous. There were two signs along the mile and a half trail to the rock, very discrete and hidden among the trees, be SURE to keep an open eye. I made the serious mistake of not searching each tree for these signs and ended up hiking an extra 2 miles or so passed the rock. After finally getting back, I was even more let down to find out that scaling the rock itself was next to impossible. Again, the lack of signs made it dangerous and sincerely disappointing. It is needless to say that after the experience, I was ecstatic to be back in the parking lot.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 9, 2017
We did this hike on a warm spring day.  It was a confusing start, because someone (the landowner?) has put up a large gate and a sign in front of the start of the trail/fire road.  Maybe he/she is trying to block access and eventually have the easement cancelled? Not sure what the motive is, but don't let it deter you.  Go right around the gate and you'll be on the fire road that leads you to the AT.  It is a steady uphill pretty much the entire way to spy rock.  Not terrible, but enough to get your heart rate up and make you feel like you're getting a decent workout for such a short hike.  Not much to see on the way up, but after a little scrambling up the rocks at the top, you are rewarded with fantastic 360 views.  Definitely take some time at the top to walk all around and take in the different views.  You couldn't ask for a prettier Spring day when we hiked it, so we saw several other groups of hikers, but everyone was spaced out so it still felt secluded.  I hope the issue with the gate and sign gets worked out, because it seemed to deter some people, and I'd hate for anyone to miss this fantastic view.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 10, 2017
Fun short hike.  About 1.75 miles parking lot to summit, with a sustained average uphill grade of 12% (~1,100 feet total).  Lots of signage around the trail head: look for the large metal gate that says 'No Trespassing' and hike right on up that road.  There is a path that looks more welcoming that has a sign that says something like 'not the right road': believe it.

The strange looking tree mentioned several times in earlier reviews was indeed strange.  It is on your left at a T junction: head left.  When you reach the AT junction, take a hard left: full 90 degrees.

When I got to Spy Rock itself I went left around the base, and then hard right after about 15 or 20 feet, and up a sloping rock to the base of the steep section.  I suspect that you could easily get to the same spot by heading initially right and cutting back left.  There is a 3-4 inch wide crack running up 15 feet or so the crux of the climb is right at the start.  My boots got stuck a few times, but in general following the crack up was pretty easy.  When there are few handholds, try leveraging a hand in the crack and leaning against it (kind of a mini chimney).

The view from the top is stellar - I was fortunate to have the summit to myself - quite windy, but great visibility.  Full round trip (not including time on the summit) was under 1.5 hours.

By: Neil Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 20, 2017
Great hike straight up a fire road for 1.9 miles. Then another 0.5 miles to the top of a 360' view of the Religious Range to the NE and Cold Mtn to the South. At 3477 ft, the view is amazing for a sunset hike.

By: mdturnip Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 18, 2017
My first time here. This was a very nice hike. A little hard on me since I am out of shape. Trail seems to be a constant 45 degree incline until you get to the base of the rock. Got fooled by the trail going to the right when I got to the base. The actual trail is to the left past a campsite. View was incredible. Temp was 45 at bottom of trail. I am sure it dropped at least 10 degrees by the time I got to top, maybe more. Wind was blowing about 15-20 so it was pretty chilly. Got pushed a little bit by wind. Plan on doing this again.

By: Jonathan Henson Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
It was a fun hike, but the wind at the top was absolutely brutal. We couldn't even get our tents staked down. The actual rock has a great view, and I love it.

By: Rob Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 9, 2016
A friend and I went up for an overnight backpack. The forest road is a steady ascent to the junction with the AT, and the heat of the season accentuated the difficulty, so bring a water bladder and hydrate as needed. Since school is out, we passed numerous hikers young and old on the way up as they were descending. Two or three other groups were ascending at the same time that we did. Trail markings are distinct all the way up, and the short spur hike to Spy Rock, a looming monolith, is easily recognizable. If you do not want the awesome experience of the scramble, do not immediately take on the rock and opt to go left (clockwise) around the monolith a full 180 degrees, keeping in mind to hug to the right as you make your way. There is an easy, walkable section of the rock on the far end of the rock that you can take to the top. From the top, you can see west up the gap into Rockbridge County, and I believe that you can see the twin ridges of House Mountain rising above the Valley floor. The sun set directly behind it and made for an incredible view, one of the best I have ever seen. A large family reunion was camping on the trail that night. The shortness of the trail and current season probably lends some variability to the solitude factor. Two other distinct groups, including two section hikers making their way to The Priest (4.4 miles from Spy Rock) also camped along the spur area. Despite the numbers, there was more than ample space for privacy. On Sunday morning, we found what appeared to be bear droppings at the far end of the short spur trail immediately adjacent to the rock. We did not hear or witness any disturbances during the night, but we know that the droppings were not there when we left the rock at sunset. We also saw droppings of the same size and pattern on the way down the fire road the next morning. I sent a report of this to the GWNF site and asked for verification. Be vigilant during the warmer months, as there was a sign noting increased bear activity, though there are not any reports of run-ins. Be sure to take up an extra trash bag to collect any litter that you see. Litter is not a problem here, but we picked up a few items around the camp sites before the other groups arrived. Leave no trace, and have fun.

By: CStepp80 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 16, 2016
We left the spy rock/AT parking lot around 11:45 am on Saturday. The walk up the private road/fire road were took us a little by surprise as they were a little more steep than anticipated, but not bad by any means. Definitely do pay attention to the funky looking tree and make sure to hang a left when you see it. The AT part of the hike is well maintained and is a steady climb up to the camping spot on top of the ridge. As you approach the rock, you will have a couple of options of how to get on top. My friend and I chose to scale the face of the rock, which was fun, and not extremely difficult. The other option is to follow the pink marker tape tied to the trees around the backside of the rock, with a much more gentle walk up. If it is dry, a decent pair of hiking shoes or boots will be more than enough to scale the front, for an added piece of fun. The view from on top of the rock is incredible - full 360 with clear shots of Three Ridges, Wintergreen, Lovingston, and towards Raphine. I'd recommend hiking north on the AT for about a mile, until you reach the rock slide that is pictured on the Spy Rock Crabtree falls combo hike. the winter time offers unobstructed views to the south, which is nice.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I've been hiking up to Spy Rock for over thirty years (I have a vacation cabin in the area). You will be on private road/property most of the way, there are multiple drive ways and trails on the way up that can be confusing (especially at night) so follow the blue blazes all the way to the gap and head north (left) on the AT trail (white blazes). There are no camping sites until you get to the National forest - red blazes and bands around trees mark NF boundary. If you are planning on a weekend hike, expect the AT parking lot at Montebello to fill up fast. If you block gates/roads/driveways, your car may not be there when you get back (overflow parking is below the fish hatchery). There are two alternate routes to Spy Rock from Meadows lane road. Meadows lane road is a state maintained gravel road off Route 56 that goes to a parking lot at the top of Crabtree falls trail (called Crabtree meadows). Most cars can travel on this road in normal weather. These alternate hiking routes are slightly longer in distance but not as difficult to hike (less elevation change). They are both on National forest property so camping is allowed everywhere (follow NF camping rules). If you are going to camp or want a more relaxing, beautiful, less crowded hike then this is a better option: Take Meadows lane towards Crabtree meadows, at about 3.2 miles, you will see a 4WD dirt road heading off to the right and a bunch of car camping sites. Hike up this dirt road past a gate until the road crosses the AT trail, head south (right) on the AT trail towards Spy Rock. The second (longer hike) option would be to continue to Crabtree meadows parking area (3.8 miles), there is a public bathroom/outhouse at this parking lot. Park here and hike uphill on Meadows lane road until it crosses the AT trail and head south (right) towards Spy Rock. E-mail me if you have questions...

By: Rick & Martha Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 21, 2015
As a couple in our mid-sixties, we found this hike to be a bit arduous, as there is only one spot where the trail levels off, and that's almost at the top. Starting at halfway up, the trail is filled with large loose rocks that were covered with autumn leaves, making our footing a little unsure. Fortunately for us, there is a "back way" to scale the summit. Several very nice teenagers from Waynesboro came down off the top to lead us up the back way, which still involved a little "rock-scrambling." Views at the top were stupendous! It took us 2 hours up, and 1.25 hours down.

By: Charlie Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 13, 2015
We had a great time on this hike. The view was spectacular. It's a little hard to make it to the top (you have to climb the last rock) but it's manageable. Definitely want to do it again! Make sure after you are done to check out the nearby falls.

By: JPwhit Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Excellent hike.  Gorgeous view.  Short but steep.  A few updates from the original description of the hike.  For those coming the first time, the trailhead is marked very clearly for spy rock, not the first hatchery parking area.  The gate across from the parking area is not the yellow one, but a newer steel one with a minor stream crossing.  Blue blazes make the path up clear to see and then the left at the AT to spy rock has a sign that you can't miss.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 25, 2015
This is a short hike with a great 360 degree view and a fun little rock scramble at the end. Because the trail leading to it is mostly a fire road, there is not as much scenic trail to enjoy on the way there but the views are excellent. After you summit Spy Rock, if you continue North on the AT, you can enjoy a lovely ridge walk that makes up for whatever is lacking on the walk to Spy Rock, but there is no real "destination" in this direction for a few more miles.

A few reviewers have commented about bringing dogs on this hike - The rock scramble is a little challenging for dogs, but the 2 hiking with us were able to make it up with just one little area of assistance where they needed a lift to the next ledge. If your dog is scared of heights or if you don't feel strong enough/confident enough on the rocks yourself to give her a lift if needed, I'd say leave the dogs home. Otherwise, feel free to bring them along. We saw quite a few other dogs on the trail and at least one who also made it to the top.

By: dwhitten Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 6, 2015
Nice short hike with amazing views rivaling Old Rag and Mary's Rock. Was surprised by the short but steep rock scramble at the very top since I had my 3 year old on my back. It is worth the effort to see the amazing views!

By: Sam Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
My boyfriend and I enjoyed the hike and the views. However, because of how rocky the trails are, I wouldn't recommend bringing along dogs.

Ours tore up their pads and almost couldn't finish the trail. I think if we go back we'll be strapping some doggy boots on their paws

By: A 911 Dispatcher Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 28, 2015
This hike while not boasting many amazing views from the get-go was pleasant once getting out of the private property drive...After working a 12 hour shift all night and hiking at 7 am it was admittedly a little difficult given there weren't any breaks in incline for the first mile and a half or so but the sight at the top is well worth it. I definitely plan to hike this either early in the morning or evening when the sun rises/sets if not both. I'd recommend to anyone who wants a good view and exercise!

By: TwoDachshunds Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 31, 2015
We did this as a lunch-time hike with our two dachshunds. After reading the reviews about the rock scramble at the top, we were a little worried the dogs wouldn't make it but figured we would give it a shot and get as far as we could. The scramble wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it would be and the dogs did great (with a little bit of assistance). We spent about an hour at the top enjoying the view before we made the trek back to the parking lot.

There is a great camping area near the top of the trail that we plan to enjoy next time we make this trip. Overall, the hike was very enjoyable with outstanding views (the pictures really don't do it justice).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Please respect private property when parking and hiking up to Spy Rock. I did my weekly hike up past Spy rock and found evidence of camping fires on my property. Two weeks ago, the parking lot got so filled up that some people drove past the yellow gate and parked in one of the land owners driveway (blocking the driveway). If the lot is full (which happens fast on a weekend), please park down at the Fish Hatchery. The popularity of this hike is great but the downside is the amount of traffic. If you see someone parking outside of the parking lot, driving above the yellow gate, or camping anywhere along the trail all they way to the saddle, please politely remind them that the entire area is private land. Thanks!! Please enjoy the hike.....

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
My girlfriends and I have decided every Wednesday to pick a different location to hike. 4/22/15 we chose Spy Rock. For us, the fire road was relatively steep, but very well maintained. Our problem came when we got to the "unique" tree. As stated, from coming up the fire road, the tree is on your left, but there are 5 different trails leading off when you reach the tree. After heading up different paths (finding a few "Private property" signs, and a few tree stands), and not seeing many markings, we would turn around, and come back to the tree. We finally chose a path, and we saw the blue blazes. Follow those blue blazes for awhile, and you will finally come to the intersection with the AT. GO left. The AT from there was one of the roughest parts of the AT I have ever seen. When you finally get to Spy Rock, we couldn't find the path that led to the top of the rock, so we did a little rock scrambling. The view itself was definitely rewarding with the amazing views, but it was so windy and cold, we didn't stay long. The views are worth it, but the hike itself was very rocky, and we wasted a lot of time trying to find the correct path coming from the fire road.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 21, 2014
This was my first time hiking to Spy Rock. I started at Crabtree Falls and took the Appalachian Trail south from Crabtree Meadows. This is about a 14 mile hike. I knew Spy Rock had great views but I did not realize it was a fully exposed rock dome. You can see Spy Rock from the AT south from multiple vantage points, it looks like a huge bump rising from the ridge below Maintop Mountain. When you get to the rock the trails disappear and it is a scramble to the top. Easy going up but much more difficult going down because there were ice sheets in multiple spots. The view north of The Priest is easily the best vista. Due south was terrible for photos - mid-afternoon in the winter meant the sun was directly behind these mountains. If it wasn't so bright I may have been able to locate Mt. Pleasant and other peaks. I probably could've spent an hour on Spy Rock but time was a factor. I skipped the short bushwhack to Black Rock, but it looks easy in the winter with no foliage.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 20, 2014
Incredible, 360 degree views. Roughly a two mile hike from the parking lot to the top of the ridge--where the trail flattens and opens up into a sprawling plateau of trees and greenery that resemble a scene from The Chronicles of Narnia. From there, you can choose your own route to scale "Spy Rock" to reach the overlook. The climb is roughly 15-20 feet, but the natural characteristics of the boulder(s) allow for a relatively easy ascent. The three of us wore Chaco sandals and had no problem with the slope gradient or with traction. At the top, the stunning ambiance and the depth of Spy Rock's vistas left us completely galvanized. We passed hikers of almost every age--roughly 10 and up. The rewards of this place encompass much more than just the view from the top (and the imminent fall colors will only enhance its allure). Take a hike. (-

By: Matthew Growney Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 21, 2014
The road into the parking lot seemed fine to us. We saw civics and low riding sports cars that seemed to make it in with no issues.

The first 3/4 of a mile was uneventful. It is a very smooth and wide dirt road with some houses along the way. Keep in mind this section is private property so be respectful as you pass through.

At about 1/2 mile in there is a fork were you turn left and follow the blue trail blazes. That is where the burl covered tree can be found, we stopped for some pictures. A little further up the road is less developed, you pass a gate at which point motor vehicles are no longer allowed and the trail gets a little more challenging, though all in all the trail is rather tame and was easily hiked by my 4yo son. Once you hit the intersection with the AT the trail blazes turn to white and the trail narrows slightly. At the top there are several nice established campsites with stone fire rings. We picked the one closest to the rock, though I wouldn't recommend this site to fellow ground sleepers as its tent pad was sloped and rocky.

The climb up the rock itself can be a little challenging, be prepared for some minor rock climbing. There are a number of ways up and down the rock so take a moment to orient yourself once you reach the top.

One thing that bothered me was trash, there is no place for slobs in a place like Spy Rock so if you can't hike out that empty bottle or can please stick to the city.

All in all a nice easy hike with a great reward at the end.

By: Turtle Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 15, 2014
A great Father's Day Hike. The weather was perfect and the view from the top was well worth the rocky climb.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 16, 2014
The road from the Fish Hatchery to the parking lot is still in bad shape. We are trying to get the Virginia Game and Fisheries to fix it. Please - do not block the Spy Rock road when you park. There has been a few incidents this year where hikers park their cars on this road when the parking lot fills up and they block folks who live above the parking lot from driving to and from their homes. This is a great time of the year to combine this hike with Crabtree falls. Park one car at the Fish Hatchery parking lot and another car at the bottom of Crabtree falls off Rt-56. Hike up to Spy Rock, then continue north to Crabtree meadows road, turn left on the dirt road and hike down to the Crabtree meadows parking lot. The trail down to the falls starts at this parking lot. Figure about 3 ˝ hike….Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 21, 2014
Must emphasize what previous hikers have said: the road past the hatchery to the AT parking is BAD. Drive slowly and watch for larger rocks to avoid. The trail is very much upward most of the way, so be ready to catch your breath frequently if you haven't been hiking regularly. It is not a very stimulating hike visually until you get to th top. Awesome views everywhere you look! And yes, the Tye River vistas on the drive up are fabulous in late winter early spring. This was my sister and my first trip to Spy Rock, and we loved it. Snow still on trail and mountains.

By: Jim Moyer Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 25, 2013
My daughter and I did Spy Rock for a Christmas Day hike and it was outstanding. With 23 degree temperatures and no wind, the 360 degree panorama was jaw dropping. It was a bit of a challenge to scramble up to the top, as there was plenty of ice in several places, but once we found a good line it was uneventful. Definitely a personal favorite even after 40 years of rambling around in the eastern mountains.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 25, 2013
We took two cars and parked one at Crabtree before starting our hike at the Spy Rock parking area. We hiked to the top of Spy Rock and spent about 15 minutes enjoying the views before continuing up the AT towards Crabtree. This portion of the hike was excellent...relatively flat or downhill except for a couple of uphill portions with a couple of good views that would probably be more difficult to appreciate when the leaves are on the trees. We hung a left at 826 to the Crabtree Meadows trailhead and walked to the falls where we had lunch. The overlook there was sunny but once we headed down the trail it definitely got colder. The falls were nearly all ice and absolutely spectacular. Total length was about 8.4 miles.

By: Jay Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 27, 2013
My buddy and I decided we would go for an overnight hike to spy rock this weekend, and it was absolutely wonderful. We each had about a 35-40 pound pack. It was pretty rough on the way up as we stayed at a decent pace the whole way up. The path is pretty bland, but with the leaves beginning to change the sights weren't bad by any means. We saw a few woodpeckers, small game, and another group behind us saw a black bear cup on the way up. Once to the base of the rock, we made camp. There are a few great places to put a tent and fire pits are already built up, chimney style to push heat in a certain direction and protect from wind. Once we got camp all set we scrambled up the rock. If you are day hiking, I would definitely advise leaving your pack at the bottom of the rock while you go to the top. The view at the top is so beautiful I couldn't even begin to put it in to word for you. You just have to do go do it and see it. Awesome hike. I would definitely advise it to anyone. Saw groups of all ages over the weekend.

By: Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Nice hike. It was cloudy when we started off. Started pouring by the time we reached the top. So, couldn't really see the vistas. The last bit of rock scrambling was great. Access to parking lot is crazy. It's one lane off road for two way traffic!

By: ll JK ll Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Simply put, Spy Rock is an amazing place. :)

My friend and I attempted this hike 1/5/13 but the trail was completely iced over. My friend had to stop halfway up because his shoes weren't in good shape but I continued to the base of the summit. After attempting to climb the ice and falling several times I gave up.

Fast forward a week and we're experiencing spring-like temperatures in January! Needless to say it was beautiful, and the hike was very enjoyable. I'm not overweight at all but sit in front of a computer all day so my conditioning isn't very good. The uphill hike can be strenuous at times but with proper pacing it isn't that bad.

The view from the summit is amazing, and with so much area at the top you can find a good spot to enjoy the view even if there are a lot of hikers up there. I was reminded of the summit of Mount Pleasant, which is incredible but cramped with a handful of people. So if you have a large group Spy Rock will easily accommodate.

After taking in the view I continued on the A.T. to Black Rock Overlook. Another great spot with a great view but getting to the tip of the rock was dicey. There wasn't a path from what I saw so it was a matter of pushing through the brush. I can only imagine how nasty it would be in the warmer months!

Overall I can't recommend this hike enough. It's a short hike with an awesome payoff and with all the other mountains in the area, along with Crabtree Falls, there's plenty to keep you busy.

By: James N. Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Great hike with amazing views for the little amount of effort needed for the payoff. I will definitely be back in full bloom. Pay attention to where you hike cause the path up can get a little tricky if you arent paying attention. Go. It was well worth the time, ESPECIALLY for the views of the Priest and Three Ridges to the SSE.

By: Patty Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 2, 2012
A TIP: once on the fish hatchery road drive past the hatchery being on your left with a double wide on the right continue up to the parking area. DO NOT TAKE THE ROAD TO THE RIGHT, IT IS A PRIVATE RESIDENCE. private residence. Yes, it was uphill from the moment we got out of the car. Bring water and take your time. Just keep reminding yourself that once on top of the rock you will agree, it was so worth it.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Trail update: If you are interested in a loop trail while up at Spy Rock, continue north on the AT trail for about 500 yards and you will see a blue blazed trail break off to the left and uphill (this was the old AT trail). This trail takes you up and over maintop mountain and rejoins the AT trail on the other side of the mountain. Total distance for the detour is 0.26 nm. If you are camping and the area below Spy Rock is occupied, there is a nice flat area to camp on top of maintop mountain (as long as there is not much wind). If you like to go for a GeoCatch, there are two of them that are close to the trail “Black Rock overlook” and “Montebello overlook”. Drop me a line if you have any questions about the area….

By: speptobie Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 8, 2012
Excellent hike for all levels.  The walk to the top is long and pretty much all uphill, but what would you expect?  It isn't very difficult and the view from the rock is unbelievable.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This hike ranks as one of my favorites because the summit view is absolutely stunning and the effort to get there is relatively easy compared to other hikes. The views are 360 degrees wide and you can see into both the Shenandoah Valley and Rockfish Valley through the mountaintops. Plus, there's an amazing amount of space up at the top to run around or find a spot for a picnic. And to top it off, the road getting there (Rt 56) is one of the prettiest around and follows the Tye River as it cuts down the mountain. Stop off at the Fish Hatchery if you can at the base- it's also worth your time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2011
Disclaimer: I am a 53 year old desk jockey, weighing in at 216 pounds at 5'8". I carried a 35 pound back pack with me, HUGE mistake. This hike took me 90 minutes from the fish hatchery to the top of the rock. It was NOT an easy hike for me since I'm out of shape, but the payoff was well worth it. The vistas are fantastic, it is one of the best experiences of my life. According to the calculator, I would have burned over 10,000 calories on the hike and I believe it. It's Monday, and muscles that I forgot I had are still sore. I will continue to do this hike until I can do it in under and hour. I climbed the face of the rock to get on top and got down the back of the rock where there is a rope but the path is NOT very clear. When I do the climb again, I will leave paracord to lead the way. Good luck to anyone wanting to try it.

By: Mike Yankovich Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Went up there last week. It's peak season for the leaves. Don't delay!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2011
My friend Derek and i were looking for a short hike since we got out of town late.Thanks to hiking upward we found Spy Rock.I was very pleased with this hike.It is a steady incline from the parking area and since we were packed for an overnight ,it made for a good "initiation" for the weekend.It continues upward until you get to the camp sites.Finding your way to the summit can be a little tricky and its a good scramble up for the novice hiker.The reward at the top is well worth every step.We had 360 degree views of the entire range.The fall foliage was beautiful all around us while lower elevations were only starting to change.Derek and i continued up to maintop then joined the A.T. to head to the Priest.In Conclusion this is a great hike for most ages with the hardest part is the sketchy rock scramble to the summit of Spy Rock.We hiked Mcafees Knob a month earlier but this is number 1 for me so far.With a combination of solitude,views it is hard to beat.Ive got some great photos but i gotta figure out how to upload to the sight if possible   P.S. even if its a nice temp. be sure to bring a jacket.There were high gust the day we hiked and having my nano puff helped to extend the time we got to enjoy the beautiful views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 27, 2011
I hiked Crabtree Falls, The Priest Wilderness, and Spy Rock as a day hike, taking 8.5 hours. I did it the day we had the hurricane, so solitude was definitely not a problem. I parked at the first parking area and followed the small trail up to the second parking area and restrooms. I continued up the trail to the top of Crabtree, and took the trail to the right and eventually saw blue blaze. Once reaching a clearing where restrooms were available and also a map showing the surrounding trails, I took the gravel road to the left heading to the AT in about .5 miles. There were large boulders intersecting the road, with white blaze. To the left was there was a map showing the area, and I made it to the Priest Wilderness and Shelter in about .9 miles,. I turned around and went back to the gravel road and continued on to Spy Rock. I passed a second fire road and kept steady on the trail until reaching Spy Rock. Once reaching the huge rock, I was able to navigate my way up, which was quite the challenge with all of the wind and rain. It was well worth it once reaching the top. The view was amazing! Follow the trail back and when coming back to the marked rocks by the gravel road, head back left to the restrooms and take the right to get back to Crabtree. All together it was a great hike, well worth the challenge, and definitely happy to see the couple of restrooms along the way (bring your own toilet paper).   Saw a few deer but other than that it was quite and peaceful.

By: Chefkela Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 12, 2011
Tired of the 90 plus degrees we headed to Spy Rock for awesome 66 degree temperature!  The hike was nice going up and back.  When we arrived at the top because of the overgrown brush we were unsure which way to scramble the rocks.  A great big thank you to whoever put the rope up, it was a great help.  Once at the top awesome views.   Thunderstorms all around so we headed down and once again got turned around....until we saw the rope.  Enjoy!

By: Marina Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 22, 2011
I think the recommendations on the site are inaccurate about the length and difficulty of this hike. We almost did it after Crabtree Falls, but decided not to and did it the next day. Good decision - this hike is CHALLENGING. It's 2 miles of continuous uphill on fairly rocky road and path, and the way down isn't easy either. It took us at least 2.5 hours. At the end is a hauntingly beautiful plateau and a climb to the top of the rock. Views are spectacular and well worth the work to get up here. The road to the parking lot is narrow and poorly maintained - if you have a smaller car you will get scratches on the bottom, as we did on our Prius, even though we were extremely slow and careful.

By: Bent Pole Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 3, 2011
Beautiful views!  There was a little bit of snow that was melting sun was shining, nice chill in the air.  I had run a 10K the day before, so I wanted a hike that wasn't too strenuous.  Short with a nice reward at the end.  The ratings for the different aspects are accurate.  Appreciated the directions from HU.  Thank you!  Awesome.

By: Big Bob Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 19, 2011
My buddy from Pittsburgh came down to visit me and I wanted to show him something he would never forget. I heard about this hike, and I already did the Priest, so I decided to make this an out and back from Spy Rock to the Priest. The complete out and back to the Priest was 11.8 mi and took us all day to do with lots of rest and pictures. I was completely blown away by the view from Spy Rock. From Spy Rock I was able to point to my buddy where the Priest was, his jaw dropped at how far away it was. It would have been nice to camp at the Priest, but he had to be on the road on Sunday. Amazing adventure which will take through different terrain throughout the Blue ridge. Lots of vistas, different terrain, and really sore feet at the end. Doesn't get much better than that )

By: hikingupward Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 29, 2011
Does 2 years in a row hiking Spy Rock in the snow make this a tradition? Not sure, but if we do it next year, we'll call it a tradition. What a beautiful day we had for this hike, the views at Spy Rock were unbelievable. There was between 4-6" of snow on the ground. We also decided to put in a few more miles and stayed north on the AT until we reached The Priest cliffs, which are about 1/4 mile beyond The Priest Shelter, great views there too. Back-tracked south on the AT to the shelter, ate lunch and then continued south on the AT back to the car at the Montebello Fish Hatchery, about 12.6 miles total. No speed records were set, it felt like running in the sand at the beach!! Great Winter hike.....See some photos of our hike on our HU Facebook page.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 30, 2010
It is a VERY steep hike with the snowdrifts that day, but it was THE best view I have EVER! seen, never would have know it was there without this site.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I have hiked this trail about 50 times starting in the late 70's. I like the area so much I bought 23 acres of land above the hikers parking lot in 85 and just completed a cabin this year. A few notes on the hike. The hiking trail used to run directly thru my property but the AT club moved the blue blazed trail over to the current road after the gravel road was put in 1985. The hikers parking lot was put in the 90's because the hike became so popular that parked cars would block the road. The entire area up to the AT trail and down in the hollow below is private property and used to be populated in the early 20th century. At one point, over 200 people lived back in "Cash Hollow", there was even a single room school house back there as well. The main industry at the time was lumber. You can still see some of the old rail road beds that were used up into the 60s to haul lumber out of the mountains. When the chestnut trees died out in the late 30's, most of the people moved down into the Montebello area except for the Campbell family. They still live back in the hollow with no electricity just like in the old days (a phone line was put in a few years ago because both of them are in their 90's and their relatives wanted to be able to check on them in the winter). If you go down the south side of Spy rock you can see their farm down in the hollow. Please don't go and visit them since they are very sensitive to people trespassing. This year, I put a Geocach on Black Rock overlook. This is the group of rocks slightly above and to the North of Spy Rock (you can go to the Geocaching site to look up the hiking directions).

By: HikingUpward Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 13, 2010
We have a Geocache on this hike that to the best of our knowledge is still available. Inside the container is a HikingUpward Logo t-shirt that is free to the first finder. We tried posting it on but were told it was too close to another geocache and we have not had time to go back and move. See the HU Geocaching link on our home page for a photo of the t-shirt.

The coordinates for the geocache are: N37.82750 W79.120685 - Happy Trails and Happy Hunting!

By: Tracey B. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 3, 2010
Hiked to Spy Rock with 2 kids.  I was surprised that the fire road is open to vehicles and with many private driveways. We even heard hammering and chainsaws while going up.  You get a good aerobic workout walking up the fire road. Lots of people on the trail. Passed many large groups out on a beautiful day. The hike does not get interesting until you reach the AT.  Hard uphill walk, but levels off at the Spy Rock spur.  The short rock scramble made it fun.  Would not rate this as a favorite hike, but it is good if you are looking for a shorter hike and a good workout.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 22, 2010
Had a good time with a friend and three boys.  Strenuous uphill and fun rock scramble at the the top.  Unfortunately, it was socked in when we got there and rain chased us off the rocks when they became slippery.  Beautiful rhododendrons and mountain laurel everywhere.  Lots of hikers passing through from the AT and a busy trail even in the rain.  Very little solitude on this one.  Had fun visiting the fish hatchery aftwerwards.

By: Doug Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 29, 2010

Great views from the top of Spyrock. Weather was perfect for hiking. Did not see another person the entire time. Also did Crabtree Falls as an addon to complete the day. Pictures on link if you like.

By: hikingupward Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 17, 2010
As hoped, we did get back to map out an overnight backpack without snow that included Spy Rock, The Priest, and Crabtree Falls. What a beautiful weekend for a hike. Ran into a few ladies who found out about Spy Rock through hikingupward, always fun to find users of the site out on the trails. On top of Spy Rock if you look roughly South, just past a lone Pine Tree bent over from the wind, you will see a lower rock outcropping that is a worthwhile scramble down to. It's only about 100 yards from the main summit. You will see a valley below that you don't really see from the summit, be careful on the rocks!! We'll get the new hike posted in the next week or so. It's not a circuit hike, we parked one car at the Montebello Fish Hatchery and one at the parking area for Crabtree Falls, about 10-15 mins apart on Route 56. We camped near The Priest A.T. Shelter. The natural spring,10 yards behind the shelter, is currently flowing well.

By: Ryan George Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 10, 2010
The hike has a steady elevation rate and will get to your lungs with its consistent climb. The walkway is very rocky with a more path-like hike starting only once you've gotten to the A.T. The view at the top is worth it, equivalent to just about any other hike within an hour radius of this place. Similar 360-degree vistas as Sharp Top and Cold Mountain. The rock scramble adds a degree of accomplishment. The directions from this site are incorrect, but it doesn't take long to discover where to park. Vehicle intended for off-road ability is recommended to get to the parking lot. The drive up 56 from 151 was very fun in my MINI, though.

***HikingUpward Note***: Ryan is correct, ignore the Google Map Directions that have you turn on to Seaman Ln (Route 822). Just stay on Route 690 until you are at the last Hatchery Building and then bear right onto a small gravel road with a sign for parking and Spy Rock. Google Maps goes a little crazy sometimes in the Mtns on some of these back roads.

By: Mdk Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 28, 2009
We hiked this from the Fish Hatchery with our friend Marty and while it was a steady climb, it wasn't difficult.  After passing plenty of places to camp once we made our left onto the AT, the rock loomed before us.  It was tough to find an area to scramble up for me as I had my son in the Bjorn.  We made it and had lunch and the view is all everyone says it is.  360 degrees of beauty.

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