OverviewThree Ridges is located in the Three Ridges Wilderness area of the George Washington National Forest. From the AT trailhead at Tye River, it's aproximately a 13.1 mile round trip hike. Notable points along the way are Chimney Rock at 3,146 ft, Three Ridges (summit) at 3,970 ft and Bee Mountain at 3,000 ft. Also, about 1/2 way between the summit and Bee Mountain, there's a really nice rock outcropping that affords spectacular views of the ridge you climbed as well as The Priest to the south. From the trailhead there's about a 3,000 ft elevation gain to the summit. However, total evelvation gain throughout the hike is closer to 4,000 feet.
This isn't a hike for beginners. Start out by crossing the road from the parking lot and crossing the swinging bridge. From there, follow the AT up 1.7 miles to a junction for the Mau-Har trail. Instead of turning left, stay straight on the AT. In .8 miles is Harper's Creek Shelter by a stream where you can get water. The summit is reached 3.3 miles past the shelter and the trail covers some nice ridge line with very good views.
After the summit, continue on 2.6 miles to the Maupin Field Shelter (AT). There also appeared to be several other camping areas by the shelter, although it was somewhat difficult to tell due to ice and snow when I was there. To the left, behind the shelter is the beginning of the Mau-Har trail, marked by blue blazes on trees. The trail goes down into the valley, crossing Campbell Creek a few times. There's a short side trail to a 40 foot waterfall about 1/2 way along. From the waterfall, it's about 1.5 miles back to the AT junction you saw towards the beginning of the hike. You'll get some more elevation gain in this portion also, for those who want more. Once you come to the end of the Mau-Har trail, simply take a right on the AT and follow it 1.7 miles back to the trailhead and take a dip in the river if it's hot out. I hiked this after a snow/ice storm, so jumping in the river was NOT something I planned on doing.
Getting ThereFrom I-64 at Waynesboro, VA, take exit 99 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Go south to milepost 27 and get off at the exit for Rt 56. Go west on Rt 56 for 11 miles. Here you'll come to The Priest and Three Ridges Wilderness parking area for the Appalachian Trail, which will be on your right. This is where you need to be. There is enough room in the parking lot for about 10 cars, but others parked along the road and that didn't seem to be a problem.
From Charlottesville, you can also take Rt 29 south about 30 miles, then go west on Rt 56. Rt 56 merges with Rt 151 north, but after about 5 miles turns off to your left (west) again. From the intersection it's 8 miles west to the trailhead, which will be on your left.
Three Ridges can also be hiked from along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). I believe the loop hike would be about the same distance from this direction also. More information to come on this route as the BRP was closed due to a recent winter storm when I was there.
Red TapeThe Three Ridges Wilderness is managed by the Glenwood/Pedlar Ranger District. Contact information is located in the links below. AT rules apply of course, but keep in mind this is a designated Wilderness area. Additional red tape applies and can be read about by following the links below.
CampingThere are two shelters, one on each side of Three Ridges. Harpers Creek Shelter on the south and Maupin Field Shelter on the north end. There are additional camping areas along the way and several nice spots by the Tye River.
External LinksUSDA Forest Service