Saint Mary's Wilderness

MODERATE 37 reviews

Saint Mary's Wilderness is a 6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Vesuvius, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
465 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

camping
4 days 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!

camping
15 days ago

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!

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..

camping
5 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!

hiking
5 months ago

love it so much fun good hike. places to camp. There are multiple fun water holes.

8 months ago

Very nice trail. Has camping spots. Needs a little more parking. A few different ways to get to the falls. Nice stop offs to play in the water. Falls were not as big as pics I have seen but still worth the hike.

hiking
9 months ago

This is a fantastic hike. I really wanted to give it five stars, and it totally deserves it for scenery, but I gave it four because it could stand to be blazed. Someone has recently placed survey flags at the stream crossings, but it's still confusing to know where to cross the stream.

In terms of difficulty, I think this hike breaks down into several areas. First, for distance its definitely easy/moderate. The listing says 6 miles, but from parking lot to waterfall it's just shy of 5. Second, in terms of elevation gain, this is an easy hike. You gain about 600 ft, but it's very gradual. I honestly never experienced any of it as an incline. Third, and finally, the trail it's self is a bit on the moderate/difficult side. As said before, it's not clearly marked at times. It also has some areas where it's very narrow, rocky, and/or swampy. There are also a couple of very steep embankments to navigate when crossing the stream. This is not a trail for someone who doesn't feel sure footed.

I got to the trail head at just before 7am and the parking lot already had 5-6 cars in it. These were all overnight hikers. In general the overnight hikers were fine, however I think it's disappointing that there is a campsite at the base of the waterfall, this monopolizing the space where hikers might want to spend some time before the return hike.

In general, I would say this is one of the top 5 hikes in the area. It's not to be missed!

hiking
10 months ago

Ok, so first off... you have to cross the stream multiple times to get to the fall. We learned this after a very hard hike. If you cross the stream, the hike is actually a moderate. If not, it can get difficult.

Now that that is out of the way. I loved this hike, even though we did It the difficult way. There wasn't a ton of elevation change. You follow the stream for the most part which makes for great scenery. There were tons of butterflies and a few other hikers were looking for snakes.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It was a enjoyable hike. Trail could be marked better.

hiking
Sunday, March 05, 2017

Great hike, fun swimming holes and opportunities to jump off rocks into the stream. Crossing the stream can be a little tricky trying to stay dry.

backpacking
Monday, September 05, 2016

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.

backpacking
Sunday, August 21, 2016

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

hiking
Saturday, August 20, 2016

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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

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.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

We spent our anniversary hiking here and it was a wonderful experience.

hiking
Monday, April 13, 2015

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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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.

hiking
Sunday, May 25, 2014

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.

hiking
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

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.

hiking
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Loved this hike but it was cut short bc some parts are not good for a baby in a pack

hiking
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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 !

5 days ago

hiking
6 months ago

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8 months ago

hiking
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8 months ago

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9 months ago

backpacking
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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