Explore the most popular river trails in George Washington National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
1 day ago

In short, the overlooks were underwhelming because of the rain/fog. The waterfalls made up for it and were overwhelming because of the amount of rain. May-Har trail was fantastic and with clear skies, the overlooks would have been too.

we loved this but our dog was way more excited to get to the top and splash around

Walked in to the camp site and back. Was a difficult walk with the rocky trail but got better along the way. Crowed parking area, but people spread out enough to make a friendly trail but not crowded. Will do it again soon as an overnighter.

backpacking
29 days ago

I would rate this hike as difficult. Some of the steepest terrain I have hiked on the AT. Made it an overnighter at Harpers Creek. Very crowded...but enjoyable! The only downside to me were the rocky trails. Really have to watch the ankles. Gorgeous views and some of the prettiest Forrest scenery around!

Love this trail. Great for the dogs. Some river crossing but enjoyable.

hiking
1 month ago

I like this hike. It’s less than two hours drive from Richmond. If you’re a strong hiker you can do it in a day (7-9 hours), it has vistas, climbs, streams, waterfalls, rock scrambles, App Trail hikers to say hi to, a little bit of everything. And then at the end you can drive an AT through hiker to down to Devil’s Backbone at the base of the hill in exchange for him buying you a beer :)

I would call it difficult not moderate though.

camping
1 month ago

Myself and 5 of my students did the longer version of this hike. We parked off the parkway at mile post 23 and hiked down mine bank creek trail, then to st Mary’s river trail, then to st Mary’s fall trail. The hike was amazing, exploring the old mine was fun too. It’s very easy to find, the trail runs right through it. We had the first 2 trails to ourselves, but in the falls trail we ran into ~10 other people. All these people came in from the st Mary’s fall trail parking. After exploring the falls we hiked back and camped on the st Mary’s river trail. The next morning we hiked back out, which is a pretty rough, steep hike. However it follows a creek, so plenty of views and water. In total it was probably around 13 miles, but most of it was easy walking. The trail is not marked, but it was easy to find your way. Hiking to the falls up the falls trail is fun with all the creek crossings, but the campsites take away from it beauty. There’s many of them , large, trees smacked with machetes, and toilet paper. I would recommend camping on the river trail, far more secluded. I would do this trail again and look forward to doing it when it’s a bit warmer so we can swim!

We camped at the campsite and enjoyed this hike the climb up was a challenge in a good way. There was a few trees on the trail but nothing that hindered the experience. I will say the trail markings are all the same color and it appears to be off shoots of the main trail, we didn’t go down any of them but could be very confusing.

This hike is one of my favorites in the area, but think maybe it should be marked as hard. Great views at the end but also cool waterfalls on the way up. Trail is a bit confusing after the waterfalls and before the AT. Follow the signs to the trail head for a quarter mile up the hill. Great breweries on the way back to C’ville as a reward

This is one of my favorite hikes when I get out of class or on a weekend. I hit the falls first and then go to The Priest or Spy Rock for the tremendous views. On of the best in C’ville—views and waterfalls. The trail is a bit confusing for a quarter mile after the falls before the AT. Stay on the road and follow the signs

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great hike, with fantastic views on the second ridge. But not sure why this is marked as moderate—unless you break it into two days. For one day, it is difficult

hiking
1 month ago

While we had fun on this hike, the terrain varied like our emotions on the hike. The actual trail begins at the trail head of Boone’s Run which lead to some confusion. The trail is hard terrain and requires boots as it has insane changes in elevation, but amazing views and water scenery. There is no parking except on the street or by a shooting range.

We hiked in and found a spot to set up camp for an overnight stay. Still wanting to explore a little further we set out to see the sights in the remaining daylight.

The river and streams were pristine. There was no avoiding traversing the waterways as they were clearly marked as part of the trail. Which by the way, is listed as moderate but by most folks’ standards, it would easily be considered difficult. The trail was rocky, steep and narrow (at many spots almost too narrow considering the drop off).

When you’re not crossing the river, the trail follows along side it from above at varying elevations. We spent the better part of day 2 enjoying the challenging hike and exploring the water access.

There’s an amazing swimming hole with its own natural slide along the way to the top. This spot is an absolute must stop! Not only is it lined with gorgeous smooth rock for picnicking, sitting or sunbathing on along the trail side but it butts right up to a beautiful jagged rock wall on the opposite side. The likes of which I have only seen in Mexico & the Caribbean. Surprisingly, we were the only ones taking advantage of the crystal clear water! It was invigorating to say the least. Even in July it was far from warm.

What we found at the top was better than what I could’ve imagined-a waterfall that spilled over into a pool from which another waterfall fell. The pool at the top was a bit more crowded but truly amazing and big enough to be shared.

This trail is one I won’t soon forget and definitely one I hope to return to in the near future!

This is an excellent hike for people who want to combine two moderate hikes, Crabtree Falls and its beautiful waterfalls, and Spy Rock and its 360 degree views, into one longer hike. It is over 12 miles with more than 3000 foot elevation gain so the hike is somewhat strenuous, but it provides a good 6-8 hour hike with some of the best waterfalls and stunning views that central Virginia has to offer. The hike can be crowded near the falls on a weekend and again near Spy Rock but over five miles between the two is mostly empty. This hike follows the Appalachian Trail and the well marked Crabtree Falls trails with a popular cut-through connecting them so it is easy to follow. Best in the late spring, summer, and fall.

Beautiful vistas - especially the very first after hiking over Bee Mountain. Just a bit more difficult than moderate with some rocky and steep areas. We hiked with a pup and it was tough on her paws. Also longer than 12 miles total (closer to 15). Made it an overnight backpacking trip and camped at Harper’s Creek. Harper’s creek was flowing (March 31/April1 weekend) with quite a few other backpackers camping at the site. Good times.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Nice short hike. Great for kids.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great trail for a short day hike! Best in the spring as the river dries up later in the summer. Lots of beautiful scenery!

hiking
1 month ago

Nice trail to get out and stretch your legs. Not the best hike in the region but a good change of pace and with it coming in over 10 miles and more than 2000 foot of altitude gain it is more exercise that some of the "hard" hikes on this list despite being described as "moderate." I went clockwise but do not think it makes too much of a difference.

hiking
2 months 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).

hiking
2 months 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.

2 months ago

Super quick and simple trail out to the boulders and falls. Middle of March, a little snow left so the drive was a little slushy on Panther Creek Rd but not inaccessible. Due to the time of year and time of day, we wanted to get out in time before sunset to avoid any issues with the drive. We put our two young girls on our backs and ran out for the better part to make it quick, which makes my review "super quick and simple" legitimate. There is a campground very quickly off the parking area you will pass. Summer time would be wonderful on the boulders but I'm sure packed full while off season brings outdoor enthusiasts more peace. GO!

backpacking
2 months 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.

We hiked this on one of the windiest days of the year with 4 very small children & it kicked our butts! The view was worth it, and we’d definitely do it again, but this was a huge challenge for us! We parked in the Priest Wilderness parking lot on 56 & hiked in from there to the overlook. Did about 7 miles total, as we skipped going to the shelter.

Fun drive to the trail. Enjoyed the winding dirt/gravel road. The trail itself runs along a nice stream and goes to the falls. Very short walk though. Unfortunately too cold for swimming. Definitely need to come back when it warms up.

Cool short hike. We went 1/21/18 the lake was still frozen. Stocked trout fishing available (requires special license) several ppl fishing. I’m not 100% sure what trail we took. I think we did Lake loop on one side and the Cliff/overlook on the other. Some elevation on the overlook side but no spectacular view (no actual “overlook” or “cliff”) overall it was a fun loop. Dogs were allowed on leashes. Moderately trafficked for January. Park was closed and no payment required to get to where we hiked.

Great trail, your going to get wet unless you have ninja rock creek crossing skills..lol. We packed found a great spot near the river. The trail has changed due to erosion so we had to back track a few times (maybe some better trail markers). I made a few cast with a fly rod 25-35 at different spots. I caught 1 native brook and expected to catch none..lol. I haven't had a fly rod in my hand since I was 17.. but I picked back up fairly quickly and didn't lose my fly.... I didn't say I didn't get snagged a few times.. Great hike moderate walk a few narrow spots and loose rock under the leaf litter. Watch your step the rocks are sliiippperryy crossing the creek at least 3-4 times.. I will go back and hit the trout a little harder..

Nice little back yard treasure

Great campsites. Few people.

camping
6 months ago

Great hike, although I think I ended up on st marys gorge unless I’ve become the fastest hiker ever. Was to the falls in about an hour and a half. When I hiked out the next day, I looked st the map and there’s a spot where you can go left or right and I chose Left. Beautiful scenery either way. I’ll definitely be going back in the spring. I went in November, and was the only person I saw for 2 days!

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