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Spy Rock Out-and-Back

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.8 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The must-do hike in George Washington National Forest for C'ville/Lynchburg locals and visitors alike.


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Map Key

3.1

Miles

4.9

KM

68%

Runnable

3,840' 1,171 m

High

2,747' 837 m

Low

1,094' 333 m

Up

1,093' 333 m

Down

13%

Avg Grade (8°)

36%

Max Grade (20°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

The parking Lot is open but the trailhead is posted closed. Depending on who you ask, the private property section of the trail is closed to the general public (select landowners, local sheriff), or it's still in litigation (select land owners, National Forest). Either way, recommend not using this route until the dust settles. If you have an SUV, use Cash Hollow road (3.1 miles in on Meadows lane, or Crabtree Meadows parking area.

Overview

This classic out-and-back route heads south from the Montebello Fish Hatchery parking area and trailhead up the Spy Rock Road to the Appalachian Trail, ending at a newly-designated spur trail to the Spy Rock lookout.

Spy Rock Road is wide enough to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with someone and is made up of fairly loose gravel. The tread can be tricky for some folks and/or dogs. Hiking boots with sturdy soles or even hiking poles can be helpful for comfort and balance. Otherwise, the route is straightforward and the 360-degree views at the end make all the effort worthwhile.

Description

Follow driving directions for Montebello Fish Hatchery or Spy Rock Trailhead and look for signs pointing to the Spy Rock Road. The road starts out in earnest on a sustained climb up the ridge below Maintop Mountain and Spy Rock. Luckily, no steep section drags on too long, giving enough short sections to catch your breath.

After around a mile from the trailhead, you'll arrive at the AT: Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club section. Turn left (east) to follow the AT for just shy of a half-mile looking for the blue-blazed Spy Rock Spur to the right (south). The grades ease up as you reach the top of this knob below Maintop Mountain as the expansive views unfold before you.

Of course, having a place like this to yourself would be beyond magical (try for an early sunrise run!) but somehow the hard work and beauty involved in this run make everything else seem insignificant.

For folks looking for a longer run, check out the Spy Rock to Crabtree Falls Shuttle option.

Contacts

Shared By:

Zander Göpfert with improvements by Mike Ya

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 5 votes

#969

Overall
  4.8 from 5 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#34

in Virginia

#969

Overall
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2,808 Since Nov 22, 2019
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Enjoy a great view from Spy Rock.
Mar 23, 2017 near Nellysford, VA
Access issues from Fish Hatchery parking lot. Recommend Cash Hollow route to Spy Rock.
Jun 25, 2020 near Nellysford, VA
The view from Spy Rock is hard to beat!
Jan 27, 2017 near Nellysford, VA
Our group climbs to the top of Spy Rock Road.
Jan 27, 2017 near Nellysford, VA

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