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Montebello, Virginia

Hike to Spy Rock

3.1 Miles Total - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Christin Healey

The views from Spy Rock are simply breathtaking. It's a short hike, but from the top you can see the Religious Range: The Priest, The Little Priest, The Friar, The Little Friar, and The Cardinal.

The hike is part of the George Washington National Forest, and can easily be combined with nearby Crabtree Falls (300ft cascading waterfall with a hike to the top). The entire trip is 3.1 miles, and there are nice campsites at the base of the summit (no water source) if you want to add on this pretty overlook to a nearby longer hike. This is definitely a hike for locals, so it's never too crowded despite having probably the best views of the Blue Ridge around. The spring and fall are the best time to see the flowers and the fall foliage.

From VA56 turn onto SR690 to the Montebello Fish Hatchery. A small parking area for hikers is available beyond the hatchery buildings (follow the sign). From the parking area cross the road towards the yellow road barriers and head up this uneventful fire road, with occasional blue blazes for 1 mile until you reach the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) intersection.

At the A.T. intersection take a left towards Spy Rock which you will reach in 0.6 miles -- pay attention, this turn can be easy to miss if you aren't watching for it! There is a short Spur Trail to take you over to Spy Rock. There is an easy scramble to get to the top, but my small lab made the journey with no problems if you want to bring your pup. This could be a sunset or sunrise hike, but the views to the west are slightly better looking into the valley.

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almost 3 years ago

Alternate route to Spy Rock

Mike Yankovich The trail to spy rock from the Fish Hatchery AT parking lot has closed down. The private road is now closed to the General public. I’m a land owner on this road and have been working with the National Forest to get an alternate route to Spy rock. I was NOT in favor of closing down the trail until the alternate route was approved and blazed. The reason the road was close down has nothing to do with construction or development. It has to do with a bunch of land owners that had some unfortunate encounters with hikers camping on their property, making lots of noise and in one very unusual case, taking a dump on this side of the road and leaving the used toilet paper (the straw that broke the camels back). There is a sign at the gate that asks hikers to respect private property. Unfortunately, the more people that ignore the no trespassing signs, the more difficult it will to get the other land owner to change their mind and work with the National Forest on a better solution. The alternate route I was working on with the NF is still available if you are interested. 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. This hiking route is slightly longer in distance but not as difficult to hike (less elevation change). It is on National forest property so camping is allowed everywhere (follow NF camping rules). If you are going to camp near the trail head this is a much 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. Park off the road and 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. You can also combine this hike with a hike to the North to the Priest or Crabtree falls. Please let me know if you want more details on this route or camping options near Spy Rock....Mike

Also Great for Camping

One of the best views in Central Virginia. A short, but steep hike up to the top with a fun rock scramble at the top. Lots of campsites under the summit that can sometimes be packed full on a warm, beautiful weekend. One of my favorite go-to hikes in Virginia!

Outstanding View, Great for Families

This short hike has some amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once you get to the top I have found the best way to get onto the top of the rock is to follow the pink ribbon about 200-300 yards round the rock to the left. If you are like me and have young kids (1 and 4) the rock scrabble is possible (did it the first time) but hiking around the rock to the left will lead you to a nice gradual slop that is much easier to hike up to get onto of the rock.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Nearby Adventures

Hike The Priest

4.2 Miles Round Trip - 1200 ft gain

Hike Crabtree Falls

4 Miles Round Trip - 1000 ft gain