Laurel Prong Loop via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 41 reviews
#42 of 146 trails in

Laurel Prong Loop via Appalachian Trail is a 7.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Madison, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

7.2 miles
1,354 feet

dog friendly



horseback riding

nature trips






wild flowers


1 month ago


1 month ago

Dshz has uhh

1 month ago


1 month ago


2 months ago

Did this today- well, i'm currently camping along it at the moment,- was recommended by a ranger as a less crowded trail, and that was the case today, but still saw 4-8 folks. Crossing the stream at Big Rock Falls before the Rapidan Camp was a little perilous with some distance between river rocks - I'm a long-legged 6'0 and I had to jump a bit to avoid getting a wet foot. I would NOT recommend this trail if heavy rainfall was recent. History buffs may be interested in Rapidan - it's a little mountain lodge that Herbert Hoover had made in the late 1920s (most buildings are no longer standing). Nice unmarked camp areas along the creek shortly after Fork Mountain trail branches off this loop - but had some difficulty finding a decent bear bag branch

3 months ago

Was a good challenge for someone who is not a seasoned joker and slightly out of shape. Little foot traffic which was nice. Cool temperatures as it is mostly shaded. The river and small waterfalls were very pretty. Saw deer but no bear. We did get lost (did not see the trail marker) and ended up doing an additional mile down and back up a very steep climb. Also gets a little confusing when you get to the tourist/camp area. Lots of rocks and narrow paths, highly recommend wearing good hiking boots!! Also, look at the elevation...we started with the uphill climb for the first two miles or so, steady and a good “warm up”. Downhill was hard on my knees as it was fairly steep. There were quite a few spots where we had to climb up again and those required some stops/rests.

horseback riding
6 months ago

The trail the app took us on was extremely challenging by horseback - borderline dangerous. Thank goodness we had good horses! Wouldn’t recommend riding in the wintertime as the trail was frozen solid at the highest points of the path. Several really slippery, rocky, mountainous areas where we dismounted & lead our horses. No doubt a beautiful hike but wouldn’t recommend for horses.

10 months ago

Absolutely beautiful. Very easy trail, well marked. Only 1 overlook but the landscape along the way was stunning with the fall leaf colors. By far one of my favorites

11 months ago

We just completed this trail earlier today. We started on the blue trail (laurel prong) and made our way to hazeltop/the AT. We set up camp on laurel prong which was lovely. The area is lightly trafficked and near a water source which was great. The trail itself is fairly easy. Going from Laurel Prong to the AT is harder due to the uphill climb, but it was not too strenuous. If you're looking to go camping or take a nice hike, this is a great place to do it!

Monday, March 27, 2017

did this loop in reverse last week. went the a.t to the laurel prong to the mill prong. dunno if my GPS was off but we got nearly 9.5 miles and 1900 ft of ascent. nice trail, the mill prong was more scenic, the downhill to rapidan camp was like skiing on mud. This was my wife and I's 1st long hike through mountains and it didn't disappoint

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Didn't do the loop but did the trail to Big Meadow. Still came to 7.2 but was out and back. The map at the trailhead didn't show a full loop ( it was cut off) and we didn't feel like risking a longer hike than planned. Still a nice walk and not too difficult.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Just completed this with my son (14 y.o) on a beautiful June weekend. I normally don't do much summer hiking - nothing worse that trying to sleep in a steaming tent. But this weekend was fabulous - 70s during the day and into the 50s at night.

We did the loop from Milam Gap - up the AT to Laurel Prong, then camped down near Fork Mt trail. Next day hiked to the Rapidan Camp and back up Mill Prong Trail to Milam.

To start the AT is very slightly uphill and the trail is quite clear and easy. The 1st section of Laurel Prong was the toughest for my son...downhill and quite rocky. Once you reach the intersection with Cat Knob it gets a little easier. There once too much water so none of the stream crossing were very difficult. You get more & more as you approach Fork Mt.

There is a nice campsite right near that intersection, but someone already had it, so we ventured ~1/4 mi down Fork Mtn. Had a cross the stream and found a nice spot.

The next morning we visiting the Rapidan camp - interesting and something that I didn't even realize existed. The rest of the hike is typical SNP - back uphill to Skyline Dr...rocky in some areas, nicer in others. Watch for the horse droppings on the 1st section out of camp _ horses are allowed!

Nice small waterfall about 1/2 way back to Milam. All and all a nice hike on great weekend.

Monday, August 24, 2015

We took the loop in a clockwise direction, heading directly to Camp Hoover first via Mill Prong Trail. There were vans parked near the camp, and as it turned out, two of them were parked on the Laurel Prong Trail which we needed to take. The issue was, with them in the way, it made the trail look like a parking lot, and we missed it. We ended up crossing a little stream and following a trail up to Laurel Dam. If you get there, and are trying to head back to the AT, you are on the wrong trail.
Other than that, the trails were very enjoyable. The climb back up to. The AT was hard on my 8 and 10 year olds, but they made it. Another reviewer mentioned the bear scat, and they were not wrong. Up on the AT portion of the loop we saw plenty of very fresh scat and heard movement off in the forest. We just kept our noise levels up, not hard for kids, and had no encounters. We will do this hike again, but this time I think we will go counterclockwise so we have an easier hike up from the camp.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our group of two experienced hikers and three novices completed this curcuit trail this weekend. Once off the Mill Prong/Rapidan Camp trail, the herd thins and the trail narrows. The minor rock scrambles on the way to the AT add to the enjoyment. Plenty of bear scat on the trail to help keep you focused. All-in-all, a very enjoyable hike.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I haven't done Hazeltop but have hike the Rapidan Camp and loved it. As a Marine I enjoyed see what Marines in the Hoover Administration had built as the early version of Camp David. It was interesting to see quotes and items of the Hoover's. It's a long hike but well worth it. If you are out of shape you may want to think about contacting the park reference a ride to it.

28 days ago

1 month ago

4 months ago

9 months ago

10 months ago

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Load More