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My favorite

My girlfriend and I embarked on this loop last year with some friends. We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into. I had thought we had made it to the top when we reached the outlook where most will have there lunch. Little did I know that was just the beginning of the rock scramble. This loop is challenging and that makes it incredibly fun! I wouldn’t recommend to any beginners unless they go with someone who’s done it before. Not that you’d get lost, but the rock scramble does get challenging, especially for those out of shape. My girlfriend and I love it and will be going back soon.

3 days ago

Did this on a sunny mid-March Sunday, with temperatures in the morning just above freezing and headed into the 60s by afternoon. The trail is strenuous -- and we did have to navigate some slick ice and snow on western side of the slope (in the winter shade). The clockwise loop includes some very steep ascents both early and late in the trail, but the views are very rewarding. The waterfalls on Mau-Har Trail are reminiscent of a mellower version of White Oak canyon -- but without the crowds. It's doable in a day if you're fit and hit the trail early, but you'll want lots of water and snacks. (We were on the trail for about 8 hours with breaks).

I have done this three times, each of the last three years, it is always best in the fall, but doing it in December means less crowds. The loop is a better way to do it, although the distance is closer to 11 miles that way. Going straight up and down means fighting the crowds coming up through the scramble, which is not fun for either direction. If you are doing it in the summer or fall, I strongly recommend avoiding the weekends or starting early. Arriving around 0800 will leave you waiting in lines on the weekend that can stretch for an hour or more at the start of the scramble. This hike is a lot of fun and a real sense of community develops along the way. Not good for pets at the scramble. Make sure to pack a lunch and enjoy the view at the top.

5 days ago

Great hike on a warm Sunday in March. Did it in a single day, took seven hours at a moderate pace. The distance came out as closer to 14 miles than 12. Still a lot of snow on the trail making it muddy on the AT going up to the ridges. Went counter-clockwise and enjoyed the water on the way down, but since most of the good views on the ridges are south and west facing, it meant the sun was in my face by the time I arrived at the ridges in the early afternoon. If you are a photographer, I would recommend going clockwise instead.

Amazing hike. The rock scramble is tough but great fun.

7 days ago


12 days ago

Good challenge! Lots of steep ups and downs. Did this loop clockwise, camping at Campbell Creek overnight. Much longer hike Saturday (about 10 miles), but I needed to give myself enough time to drive home Sunday (Northern Ohio). If you're in good shape, you could probably knock this out in a long day. Good campsites around each shelter, and a few good sites along the Mau-Har trail. Water was flowing great at each source, and especially along the Mau-Har. No water between Mau-Pin Shelter and Harper's Creek Shelter, so pack accordingly. There were a few good views, but one was particularly amazing. Ran into about a dozen or so other hikers.

So fun! The scrambling is challenging but fun. Gorgeous in the fall.

Another great day hike. Took my gf and her son out for the day and had a blast. Heavily trafficked, but you’re still able to find your own space

Great hike. Good difficulty level going up, with interesting rock scramble. Nice walk down the trail to cool down and relax

One of my favorite hikes to do!! Challenging in a good way!

27 days ago

If you're not in pretty good cardiovascular shape (guilty), this trail can be challenging. The last leg of it is uphill (climbing out of the beautiful gorge) the whole time. The rest is moderate. This trail offers a lot of variety of views, moss and lichen covered rocks, plenty of woods etc.

27 days ago

Krista, thanks for posting your review on the alternate route to Spy Rock. The more people that try this route, the more it will become recognized as superior to the Fish Hatchery route to Spy Rock (hopefully the National Forest will eventually support it). Yes, you can take a normal car up Meadows lane road when the weather is good but you need to be careful and take it slow. There are plenty of good camping areas along the alternate route because it’s all on NF property. However, camping at the base of Spy Rock is not recommended (no water and to much traffic). E-mail me if anyone wants recommendations on camping areas (I know the area very well). Spyrock“at”Mac”dot”com

This was the most fun trail I’ve done. Getting ready to do again soon. Challenging? Yes. Doable? Most definitely. Just do your due diligence and wear gloves with some traction to help get you up some rocks as many areas are slippery due to the amount of traffic it gets. Also, eat and drink what your body needs before, during and after or else you can cramp up, etc.
Stop and enjoy the scenery. I prefer to start early to avoid most of the crowd.

By the way, the alternate route parking is in Crabtree Meadows. Little grassy spot, be careful of foliage.

1 month ago

The fish hatchery is open, thank you, Mike Y.! I let my GPS take me there from northern. VA and I ended up at the alternate route. No problem. A little longer but easier on the body. This was the 4WD route, but my little Honda Accord made it up and down just fine. Just took it slow and watched for holes. Warning - it’s easy to get turned around hiking back down the morning after. Next time I do an overnight i’ll take the fish hatchery route just to east my mind. All in all an amazing trip! The sunset and sunrise simply cannot be beat! Great pick for my first overnight :)

Excellent and challenging trail for my wife and I ! I'd say it was made much more difficult after the prior night dropped an inch of snow. Areas were icy, which made the rock scramble harder than needed to be but good teamwork saw us pass the test. by far the longer and hardest trail for a couple in early 40s (most everyone we saw easily 10 yrs our junior), but fun and quite rewarding. Awesome views a bonus!

Fairly slick with some ice and snow on the rocks, but the trail and views were great. Highly recommend!

I went on this trail with my son's Boy Scout troop in October of 2017. The trail was awesome. Great views and great rock formations. If you don't like boulder hopping then this isn't the trail for you. So pack a lunch and hike to the top and find a spot to enjoy the views and lunch!

Didn't get to hike because no dogs allowed :(

Best hike I’ve had so far. Definitely worth going in the off season, hardly any traffic. Went with a group of friends and we definitely built a stronger bond because we used a lot of teamwork due to the obstacles(ice, rain, height difference, experience, etc.)

1 month ago

Hiked this trail in the rain, which got a little dicey at times, but it was definitely worth it! Because of the weather we only saw only about 4 or 5 other people on the trail the entire day. The downside was that we could hardly see anything from the top of Old Rag due to all the fog, but it was still a really fun hike.

great hike

Definitely my favorite place I have been hiking. I am 19, 5’7”, and around 180lbs so im not in the best shape, but I have a passion for scrambling. It was 10° when I got there but after about a half hour of hiking I actually needed to remove my hoodie! I see people mentioning the need for significant upper body strength but imo it wasnt really as important as people chalked it up to be. One thing that did cause some problems: My height. There are a few points where you need to scale the face of a boulder and the shorter you are, the harder it is (Though I managed to get by). Another thing that happened was about halfway through the scrambling my calves began to “lock” into place and hurt whenever I plantar flexed (bent foot toes facing down). I had a sports drink with me which reduced the problem in a matter of minutes, so if you arent used to this type of terrain, I highly recommend you bring something with plenty of electrolytes in addition to water. I would say as long as youre prepared, and somewhat in shape (but willing to push yourself), this is a hike worth making the trip for!

1 month ago

Excellent day trail.

Great trail with some fun rock scrambles. I went up the rocks which was more fun and am sure safer as well when out alone. I like the solitude of trail hiking so did the loop at about 8:30 and took me about 3.5 hours of moving fairly quick and and only saw maybe 12 people. Best getting the popular trails done in the off season. Will definitely be a trail I’ll have friends do as well.

Busy but one of my favorite hikes

Just amazing views at the top. Love the rock scramble. Very busy trail. The fire road, which is the last 5 miles of the loop is rather boring, but it allows you to rest after scrambling.

must have strength of Steven seagal for the top portion of this trail.

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