Three Ridges Trail

HARD 76 reviews

Three Ridges Trail is a 12.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Lyndhurst, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. 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
12.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3845 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Situated in Central Virginia, just 30 miles southwest of Charlottesville, the hike has vista after vista along the Appalachian Trail, and many small waterfalls and pools on the Mau-Har Trail on Campbell Creek.

backpacking
16 days ago

Challenging hike, but the amazing views make it all worth it. This was the first backpacking trip my wife and I went on together (about two years ago); we were unaware it was considered “hard” prior to. After a late start, we parked along skyline drive and perused the clockwise loop during a two-day; one night trip. We quickly learned the perils over overpacking. Overall, we had a blast and would do it again.

hiking
20 days ago

First off - This hike is absolutely not 12.6 miles. Garmin watch clocked it at 16.3. We did not deviate or take any side paths. Please be aware of this before starting the hike. We did the hike going clockwise - taking the Mau-har trail till it intersected back with the AT. I would recommend going this way. Get the uphill trek out of the way at the beginning of the hike. Careful around the waterfalls and strong creeks - I nearly stepped on a timber rattle snake, absolutely couldn't hear the warning rattle because of the water close by. To round out the hike, the skies opened up and had a torrential thunderstorm down pour for the last 6 miles which made the down hill treacherous on the rocks.

All that being said - I really enjoyed the hike. Wish I could've seen the views, but the rain killed that.

backpacking
21 days ago

This is a challenging hike depending on if you split up the mileage or not. I definitely suggest going clockwise, otherwise you will face a challenging up hill to close out your hike. I’d say if you are in shape without a heavy pack this is a doable day hike. I backpacked this one. Got in at 9:30pm and night hiked the 1.6 to where the trail forks for the loop. Decided to set up camp here. Got up at 6am and was off on the trail at 7a. The clockwise route sets up the day with most of the great views. Given it to was calling for rain in the afternoon going clockwise was important for me to catch the views without rain clouds. I got all the way to Harpers Shelter by 10:30am. And I decided I was going to try and bag the rest of the trail. Hit a wall with about 3-4 mi left. Somehow managed to muscle through it (I think getting rained on is a good motivator). I’d say this is a manageable 2 day backpacking hike. Don’t do what I did! Get there at a decent time and split the miles in half. On the non AT portion of the trail there is a pretty good waterfall. Water was fine for the entire trip (on May 25th) but I could see the AT portion being a problem if there is a dry spout. More abundant on the other side. Also this was a perfect time of the year to do it. Got to chat with tons of through hikers. And gave a couple of them a ride to Devils Backbone (nearby craft brewery) at the end of my hike.

22 days ago

So hard. Gorgeous. Totally worth the effort.

backpacking
26 days 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.

1 month ago

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
1 month 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!

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.

hiking
2 months 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

2 months ago

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
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.

backpacking
3 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.

7 months ago

This is a fun hike. It has a couple of good views and a nice long water feature. I knocked it out in 5:45 including rest stops. It's not the hardest hike I've done in the area, but it is pretty long. Definitely recommend.

backpacking
8 months ago

Good if you’re looking for a challenge! There’s one vista that’s absolutely incredible. Tons of primitive tent sites. Water was low at Harpers Creek when we went. (Sept 2017)

backpacking
9 months ago

Excellent hike. The main overlook is spectacular and the water along Mar-Hau trail is really beautiful. WARNING: When we hiked this August 27-28 there was no water at Harper's Creek. We had planned to camp/refill there but ended up hiking the extra two miles to Campbell's Creek in the dark (we got a late start). Just be prepared that this water source might not be available year-round!

backpacking
10 months ago

The views are great! We got there at about 8 am and started the walk we planed on sleeping at Harpers creek but it was only 3 when we got there so we filled up our water and got to moving again down Mau-Har which was not an easy one but we made it to Maupin shelter by about 8 pm and stayed for the night,, it was a great time!

hiking
11 months ago

First time doing any hiking in Virginia and was not disappointed. I was able to complete the loop in 6 hours and 15 minutes with only 5 minute stops at the three vistas and about 15 minutes for food. The trail is challenging (as I was soaked with sweat from head to toe) but not undoable by any means. I believe anybody could complete the loop on an overnight trip. It's steep either way, but I went up AT first then back down Mau-Har. Was able to see a beautiful black bear while hiking down the Mau-Har, granted that was close to the time the sun was setting. Highly recommend and will come back

11 months ago

Very beautiful hike in the fall, many great views as foliage is down. This is a serious hike, as in difficult. I went ccwise going down the mau haur side trail. Steep cutbacks, short scramble sections, waterfalls and streams (mau haur), great distant views, multiple forest types, and a few good picnic spots. If your healthy and prepared the hike could be done in as little as 5-6hrs, plan on 7+ if stopping to eat a meal, breaks, pictures, and nature observing.

11 months ago

came in from skyline drive total hike ended up over 15 miles. Great hike but its a difficult one!

backpacking
Friday, May 19, 2017

We started from Reeds gap and went to the right, down Mau-Har trail first.. Don't do it that way.. that is the hard way. Everyone we passed told us we were going the hard way and said they would pray for us. But I loved it!

backpacking
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

wow. very hard. I would recommend to hike counter clockwise

backpacking
Thursday, May 11, 2017

We just did this hike in 2 days, one overnight. We did 10 miles first day then 4 next. It was really difficult and im pretty physically fit. Very very steep inclines especially difficult with packs on back. Bring trekking sticks!!

backpacking
Sunday, April 16, 2017

Great hike. Did it as a two day hike and stayed at the Harper Creek Shelter, which is just over half way if you do the AT leg first and the Mau-Har Trail second. This is defiantly not a moderate hike; I would rate it as difficult. At least my 50+ year old body does.

Overall, a great loop, more people on the trail than expected, but lots of scenery, nice vistas on the AT side and great water views on the Mau-Mar side. I was in a group of 3 sets of fathers & sons; ran into many similar father/son, father/daughter, mother/daughter groups. Also, ran into several groups from Ohio. I take for granted what awesome outdoor experiences we have here in Virginia.

backpacking
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This was an amazing hike, and definitely one of the most difficult hikes I've ever done. You could probably finish this hike in one day if you started really early in the morning (and are an experienced and fit hiker), but if you plan on backpacking you can break it up into 5-6 hour days and stay overnight. There are many campsites set up for anyone to use (no permits required!). We used the main campsite on the Appalachian Trail portion next to Harpers Creek at about the midway point that has a privy, shelter, and plenty of places to pitch a tent and start a campfire.

The altitude on AllTrails is deceiving, because the hike is constantly up and down. In total, you will ascend 6,800 feet over the course of the hike and probably descend about the same amount. There are few flat areas, so you will have to take breaks often and bring lots of water. There is a mixture of steep switchbacks and direct inclines/declines, so you will be kept on your toes (or heels!). The reward includes some really amazing views of the Appalachian mountains in Shenandoah National Park and a long, winding creek that includes a large waterfall and has a few spots that feel like a hidden oasis. Very beautiful and worth the challenge!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

We completed this hike in 8.5 hours and we took just few short breaks during this time. We are decenty fit and we hike on a regular basis, but we found this trail extremely challenging. You constantly climbing up or going down - only about 10% of the trail is flat. This is a beautiful trail and it would be great for two days/one night backpacking trip. However, it is way too challenging for a one day hike unless you are in a superb shape. Someone mentioned here that it can be done in 6 hours - I believe there are very few among us who could do it so fast. If you do decide to do the whole trail in one day, make sure to get there very early in the morning to have enough time. Also, special hiking shoes would make your hike much more pleasant! The trail itself is absolutely beautiful and there is a decent number of freshwater sources along the way.

hiking
Sunday, April 09, 2017

hiking
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My girlfriend and I did this as a day hike. Totally doable if you start early enough and are in somewhat decent shape. We took about 6 hours including a couple breaks. There are also a healthy number of established campsites along the way if you want to break it into a multi-day trip. I would also come back in the summer just to play around in the water on the Mau-Har Trail.

hiking
Sunday, December 11, 2016

It is definitely a 2 day hike. If you're going to try it in one, leave plenty of time and start well before 9:00am. The AT potion of the trail is manageable for the first day if you choose to break it up. If not then the Mau-Har trail will kick your ass on the way back(Speaking from experience). Really challenging hike but well worth the views. TBird, Pancho Via, Hershey & Mike - 15.8miles in 7hours on 12/10/2016.

backpacking
Sunday, October 16, 2016

Very challenging. Oct 1 weekend. Girlfriend and I arrived Friday at 930 in a downpour and dark. Trail was highly visible with white blazes throught AT and blue for Mau-Har(?). After about half mile hike a sending we reached a camp on left to set for night. Next morning set out and took the AT trail at the maupin shelter to left. Its a challenging climb up bee mount and the three ridges with 40# packs. amazing view at the top tho!! after you do a handfull of descents thru rock gardens and long switchbacks. Stayed at Harper shelter area second night. next day set off on the mauhar trail which is about .6 mile away from shelter and he 3.6ish on the mauhar back to the maupin shelter area. The MH trail is difficult in the begining with steep and steady ascentions, and moderatetly challenging areas by the waterfall and creek area (if your not athletic or carry weight well).Then about 2.6 back to the car. I loved this trail but it was definitely an experience and you come out with huge sense of accomplishment. I would not recommend for first time backpackers mainly because you have to cover the distance thru hard trail or your stuck without water or good place to set up. That being said, you do have oppurtunites to fill up else where. Didn't have any bear problems but they're around according to signs. Great views and a good challenge await on this highly recommended trail that shares a few miles with the AT (Appalachian trail)

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