Backpack Three Ridges Loop

14.2 miles 3960 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Christin Healey

This is a gorgeous hike 30 miles southwest of Charlottesville with lots of vistas, waterfalls, and amazing camping spots. The hike is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and has tons of options for breweries and wineries complete with great post hike food (craft beer and wood-fired pizza anyone?!) as a pretty awesome reward.

From the parking area at Reids Gap, start off on the white-blazed A.T heading south as the trail begins on the left side of a clearing. You will begin climbing Meadow Mountain shortly and in .8 miles arrive at the top of the ridge, where you will continue on downhill for another .8 miles until you reach the first intersection with the Mau-Har Trail. The Maupin Field Shelter is just down to your right, but not visible from this point of the trail. At the intersection remain left, staying on the A.T. In .5 miles, climb Bee Mountain & the northern knoll of Three Ridges, arriving at one of the best vistas of the hike. Continue up the A.T. before reaching the top of the second knoll in .8 miles, along with a view to the northeast and an unmarked campsite. Continue downhill until you reach the Chimney Rock Overlook with great views of the valley, and of course, Chimney Rock. You can camp anywhere around here if you want better views, just keep in mind these camping areas are dry. 1.8 miles from the Chimney Rock overlook, you will arrive at Harpers Creek Shelter and the main camping area for this hike. There is water and plenty of sites. here. From here, turn left downhill on the A.T. In 0.1 miles the AT will turn right crossing Harpers Creek before heading uphill, and reaching the intersection of the blue blazed Mau-Har Trail in 0.7 miles at a small pass on the ridge. Turn right on the blue blazed Mau-Har Trail, descend, switchback up the next ridge, then descend again and reach Campbell Creek and large camping area in 1.5 miles. Here there are lots of waterfalls and room for exploration if you have the time/energy. Continue upstream on the blue blazed Mau-Har Trail as it becomes steeper, crossing Campbell Creek, and making several switchbacks before arriving at Maupin Field Shelter in another 1.9 miles. From here follow the A.T. as it heads back to the parking lot and the trail that you started on, ending at the Reeds Gap parking lot. Devil's Backbone or Blue Mountain Brewery are awesome places to head from there. Both have craft brews, good food, and mountain views -- the latter has wood-fired pizza. Enjoy!

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Running
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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🥇Top Contributor

about 2 months ago

GREAT trip!

This loop is phenomenal. If you go in the reverse direction, it can be a little difficult (the bulk of the miles and steep climb), but it's worth it if you'd like to camp at the top for sunrise/sunset. Also got to cool off in some of the pools!

Great day trip!

I did the loop on a beautiful Saturday! It’s took me about 6 1/2 hours to do the 14 mile loop. I started at Reeds Gap on the BRP, headed southbound on the AT, passed the 3 ridges. The hanging rock overlook & the chimney rock overlook (and then one more overlook after that - big open rock face, perfect for a lunch break) are great views! The summit of the 3 ridges covered in trees with no real viewpoint. It took about an hour & a half to summit from reeds gap (4.2 miles). From there it is straight down- I ended up running most of it because it’s pretty steep. After that you make it to the Mau- hair trail, 9 miles finished, and it’s 4.7 back to the car. This blue blazed trail follows a long waterfall most of the way BEAUTIFUL! I took my time, sat on the big rocks in the sun, listened to the water rush! In the summer time there are nice pools you can take a dip in! GREAT DAY HIKE! Note- if you want a more challenging hike, go down the May -hair and back northbound on the AT!! It’s a brutal climb to summit the 3 ridges! I’m coming back in a few weeks to tackle that, but I wanted to get familiar with the trail first and go the easier routethis time!!

No risk No reward

Wow this hike is challenging! I would not recommend for beginners, but it is a magical experience hiking beside the creeks and over the ridge tops. There are 2 shelters on the loop with many camp areas surrounding. We decided to camp on the peak of the Three Ridges before descending and tying into the Mau-Har trail. There were plenty of campsites to choose from. Views from the campsite where excellent day or night looking down into the valley. Link to my video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_sVdPNpwao

🥉Contributor

almost 4 years ago

Life Changing Experience

It was a great trail. I loved that there were trail shelters. And I loved that there was a portajohn the harpers creek shelter. It would have been the best trip ever if it wasn't for the freezing rain.

🥈 Contributor

over 4 years ago

A Favorite Backpack In the Region

Three Ridges Loop became one of my favorite backpacking circuits in Virginia even before I finished it my first time. It's an outstanding hike with lots of variety... views, streams, waterfalls, wildflowers, great camping, and with enough elevation change to give a good workout. A friend visiting from Salt Lake City wanted to experience our hiking on the east coast; this was the hike we did. He loved it and was a bit surprised to find that it was much more challenging than he had expected compared to what he hikes out west. One of my favorite times to do this trail is middle to the end of April when the spring wildflowers are blooming. There's quite a variety, especially along Campbell Creek. In the lower camping area just beyond Harper's Creek Shelter, there were many Showy Orchids in full bloom. Great write up of this hike!

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