Saint Mary's Wilderness is a 6 mile out and back trail located near Vesuvius, VA and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Love the trail, would rate it hard not moderate. The trail cuts back and forth around the creek and had lots of outlets. They all look like the main trail and I would say it's rather a pain to figure out. The swimming at the end was a blast and we all enjoyed jumping off cliffs.
Great trip with Troop 113 from Gloucester Va. 2nd time we have done it and alot of fun at the falls. Some forging the steam to get to the falls but well worth it. lots of fun jumping off the rock cliffs into the the pool at the base of the falls about and hour to the falls from the parking lot
Lower stretch was pretty buggy. Not biting bugs...just the kind that get in your eyes. Trail wasn't blazed that I noticed. That wasn't an issue except that there were essentially trails (at times) on both sides of the stream and it wasn't clear where to cross the stream at which point. Spoke with various hikers who were asking if they were on the right trail. Once you've hiked it once, it would be clear. First timers may end up enjoying a little off trail fun as they try to connect with the right trail. The stream with its various pools, the falls and crystal clear water are a true VIRGINIA gem.
This was perfect for a two night outing. The trail does vary from nicely cut paths to the extreme thicket. My buddy and I cleared enough of it to get through a lot easier now. Because of washed out and overgrown trails there are a few river crossings and once committed there's no staying dry. The last 1/2 mile was all in the river and stopped to what seemed to be the last camp site for the trail. There were plenty of camp sites on the way to the end as there were multiple pools to wade and swim in. This was my first time hiking this trail and the only disappointment was the trash and some toilet paper so close to the river. As stated in other reviews there's a little disrespect for the surroundings. I gave this 4 stars due to the moderate level of hiking to be done as well as the scenery. Get to the end and back!
Beautiful hike. Trails are semi-marked. The waterfall is great and there are multiple spots to swim. Only downside and is there are lots of snakes.
We spent our anniversary hiking here and it was a wonderful experience.
Friday, day 1 - hiked down Mine Run Trail in the rain. Very steep descent was very hard on the thighs. Nice scenery along the way with a few river crossings. Got the boots wet eventually couldn't boulder hop the whole thing. At the Saint Mary's trailhead, turned right and camped along the river near the large group site. Did not see anyone there but the campsite was trashed up bad. Pack of hot dogs in the river, a large pile of ramen noodles and oatmeal dumped, trash at the campfire pit, 4 sets of water shoes left, shovels, cans, etc. Large wooden tripods were constructed and lashed together with rope. It was clear these 2" diameter trees were cut from green wood, possibly someone thinking they would practice their bush skills at the expense of the natural surroundings. Sad that people trash up the wilderness so much. First two hours we imagined people would be coming back to reclaim the site but we didn't see anyone at all that night.
Saturday, day 2 - stayed in camp and attempted the hike down to Saint Mary's falls. Trail badly overgrown in places. Wear long pants please unless you like getting scraped up by branches and brush. The two miles to the river felt long for some reason. Probably the condition of the trail? The best part of the hike was when we got to the feeder creek about a half mile up from St. Mary's river. Some beautiful waterfalls and swimming pools there! We got to Saint Mary's river and decided to head back without attempting the extra distance to the falls. The hike back to camp was good - didn't feel as long. That night some campers took the group site next to us. They seemed nice - not partiers and not trash-makers and told us they had hiked in counter clockwise on the loop trail, coming down the river.
Sunday, day 3 - hiked up the river to complete the circuit hike. This leg of the trip was brutal! Very steep ascents up the mountain. It literally seemed like an uphill hike the entire time. Trail overgrown in places. Once we got to the green pond we stopped for lunch. Other than a couple of nice campsites, there not much there to see. The pond is brackish/swampish looking but pretty. Overgrown around most of it. We were slightly confused about which direction to go. My PATC topo map showed us taking the trail to the right which was supposed to be the forest road. However the sign said to go straight to FR 162 so that's what we did. Once we hit the forest road it felt like a death march back to the BRP. Just a lot of uphill slogging and by now we were good and whipped. We decided to stick to the fire road instead of taking the bypass trail back to the car. The half mile hike along the BRP was scenic but a bummer with all the cars and fresh asphalt smell. Be prepared if you go this route to take your time and know you're butt will be kicked. Bring enough water as there are not any sources after you leave St. Mary's river.
Overall: very nice but tough trail. Trail maintenance needs to be done. We packed out a lot of trash from our campsite and left it better than we found it. We buried the ramen noodles and hot dogs, took out as much trash as we could carry. Hopefully people will treasure this area and not trash it. For this reason alone we probably would not go back - for fear that as the season goes on it will get trashier and trashier....Loved the overall trip and scenery and the solitude was good. Probably because it's so early in the season. I imagine this place will get very busy in the summer.
Was able to do this trail again recently and made it to the falls, which make the trip worth it on it's own. My friend and I were able to enjoy a good swim and relax in the river before hiking back to the main trail to camp and complete the trail the next morning. I suggest taking just what you need for water the first day and treating water from the river, it makes hiking out much easier.
Had a great time on the trail, completed the additional in and out to see the mines and falls which was completely worth it. I stayed overnight at the large campsite, I did notice a lot of trash other hikers had left behind which kind of bothered me, so I packed out someone else's trash. Enjoyed the rest of the hike, did not run into as many people as I thought I would run into considering the weather and long weekend. I would like to note that some of the trails are not very well maintained or marked, so make sure you have a good map.
My friend and I hiked this trail and overall we were pleased. However, we did run into quite a few problems. First of all, the trail is not very well maintained and crosses the stream many times so I recommend that you bring chacos or tevas. Second, the trail is not very well marked once you get to the falls so make sure you bring a compass and a good topo map. Third, I highly recommend a swim in one of the many clear pools. My only regret is that I didn't bring my rod.
Loved this hike but it was cut short bc some parts are not good for a baby in a pack
This is one of my favorite places in VA! the water is clean and beautiful! the trail crosses the river several times and can be quite tough, but the payoff at the falls is so worth it. there is a great jump spot into a beautiful pool and if you hike a little further up theres a great place to camp and swim! the ridges are covered in blueberries in the fall and there is native trout in the water. my hubbie and I usually camp overnight .we bring both of our dogs and our two kids! be cautious of bear !