Hog Camp Gap to Reed's Gap Shuttle BP

Description: This is without a doubt the most challenging trek on this website as of this posting (07/20/06). Over 24 miles (if you choose the short version described here) youíll gain 5100 feet in elevation and lose 6300 feet. 3100 feet of this will be at the rate of 800 ft/mile as you descend the Priest. The rewards: outstanding views from places like Tar Jacket Ridge, Spy Rock and the Priest, a riot of wild flowers throughout the spring and summer, the Scenic Tye River and the rugged and serene gorge of Campbellís Creek (short version).  

This trip can be completed over 3 days. Some have described it as a 4 day trip. We will note the places we stayed at over 3 days but feel free to adjust the daily distances to fit your desires/needs. Also, if you want more distance (about 2.5 more miles), elevation gains (Add another 1000 feet or so while subtracting 1000 feet of loss.) and views (at least 3 along the Three Ridges) you can forego the Mau-Har Tr and stay on the AT all the way to the end.

Google Custom Directions to Car Drop-off at Reeds Gap

The parking area is at the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway at VA RT664.

Google Custom Directions to the Hog Camp Trailhead

Use the following directions in conjunction with the above map to reach the trailhead.

  1. Pass Mile Marker 45 and turn left onto the exit ramp for US60. Turn left
    onto US60 at the end of the ramp.

  2. In 4 miles turn left onto VA Rt634.

  3. In 2.0 miles turn right onto gravel Rt755. It will have a USFS sign for Mt. Pleasant Trailheads.

  4. The road will become more rugged as you ascend but should be passable for passenger vehicles if you drive slow and carefully. In about 1.5 miles from the last turn pass a horse gate on either side of the road. This is the AT crossing. Parking is just a few more yards on the road to the left.

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11 X 17 best

Printable/Downloadable Map 1

Printable/Downloadable Map 2

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File For Non-TOPO! Users

 

Trail Notes: As always, the AT is blazed white. Side trails and spurs are blue. All trail junctions are signed. All campsites and shelters have water unless otherwise noted. The shelters have privies. 

Map 1: From the AT crossing proceed north through an old orchard/pasture. Youíll begin ascending through some very young woods. Before too long youíll break out into a grassy clearing and your first view of the surrounding peaks and ridges. Youíll soon be back in the woods but in a few hundred more yards youíll come to another field with even greater views. [If doing this hike in the summer keep an eye out for a viney plant that carries small, nodding purple bell-shaped flowers along this stretch. It is called Leather Flower (Clematis viorna). Youíll also find some amazingly bright red Grayís Lily.] Descend from the ridge and in 1.84 miles from the start pass through Salt Log Gap. Cross Wiggins Spring Rd and Rt634 and begin another ascent.  

In another 1.18 miles cross Alhambra Rd and in another 0.5 miles cross Greasy Spring Rd. Climb some more and soon pass blue blazed Lovingston Spring Tr on the left.  

In 0.97 miles from Greasy Spring Rd reach a nice but dry campsite on the left. A footpath beyond it takes you to a rock outcrop that offers a nice view of North Fork valley below and is a great break spot. Itís not marked on the PATC map so I named it after my nephew, Eric. If you know Eric you know he needs a rock named after him. 

Continue north on the AT. In another 0.78 miles descend to North Fork. There is good water here and a campsite to the left of the trail just after crossing the stream. Look for a big tree growing on top of a massive boulder. 

In 1.79 miles reach the Seeley-Woodworth shelter. This is where we camped the first night. It is a little over 7 miles into the trek. There is room to fit an army of hikers, a better-than-usual privy (as privies go) and a piped spring. Note: PATC map 13 shows the Livingston Spring Tr rejoining the AT further north. In actuality, if my memory serves me correctly, it rejoins the AT here. 

Continue north and in 1.11 miles cross an un-named road and in another 1.2 miles cross Fish Hatchery Rd. From here climb to the junction of the Spy Rock Spur Tr. There is good camping here and at the base of the rock but there is no water. Follow the spur (right or straight) and drop your packs at the last campsite. A short footpath to the right leads you to the rock scramble that culminates in a 360 degree view of your surroundings. You can see where youíve been as well as where you will be. You can see all of the peaks in the ďReligious RangeĒ: The Priest, The little Priest, The Friar, Little Friar, The Cardinal Ö. If you brought your map and a compass up with you identification of at least some of them should be easy. 

Return to the AT and continue northward. In 2.18 miles cross Cash Hollow Rd  

Map 2: In 0.78 miles cross Crabtree Rd. If you wish you can stash your packs and turn left onto the road for a short distance (about 0.25 miles) and visit 200 ft Crabtree Falls. Iíve not been there yet but Iíve been told itís pretty impressive. Expect it to be crowded almost year round.  

Continue on the AT. Climb for 1.11 miles to the Priest shelter. Stop here and get water. Take lunch and/or a break but another good vista is another 0.32 miles further up the peak if you have the energy to go a little farther. There are 2 unmarked but obvious side trail on the left. The second one is the best. It offers a 180 degree view to the west. 

Shortly after this visit youíll crest the summit of the Priest and begin a steep descent. For the next 3.7 miles youíll drop at an average rate of 800 ft/mile. The upper part is the steepest and rockiest. There will be steep drop-offs on either side of the trail. There are 2 views of the Tye River valley as you descend. About halfway down cross Cripple Creek. This is a good spot for a cool refreshing break. In another 1.5 miles reach a parking lot and Rt56. Cross the parking lot on a diagonal to the right and then the road. Youíll see an obvious footpath that leads to the Tye River. Cross the river on a very well constructed suspension bridge. There are adequate campsites to the left (maybe 4 tents) and to the right (2 large co-joined sites that can hold about 8 tents each. These are adequate accommodations but, being close to the road, not the best. Logistically though itís an ideal spot. You have already hiked about 11 miles if you started the day at the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter. The next campsite, if doing the short version, is about 3 miles further over some very rugged terrain and the camping is very limited there. If you donít mind adding a little out-and-back mileage the ascent from the river to Harpers Creek shelter is about 2 miles but it is very steep. If staying the night at Tye River, expect local residents to campout nearby and visit the swimming holes. Things seem to quite down come nightfall. If youíre doing this trek during the non-swimming season this might not even be an issue. 

Assuming you spent the night at Tye River start a long, steep climb through the Three Ridges Wilderness. In 1.46 miles reach the junction of blue blazed Mau-Har Tr (short for MAUpin Field Ė HARpers Creek). To complete the long version stay on the AT and climb some more. Youíll pass the Harpers Creek shelter and visit at least 3 vistas before arriving at the Maupin Field shelter. To complete the trip as described here turn left onto the Mau-Har Tr. Initially the tread will be relatively flat but you will once again soon find yourself climbing steeply over a ridge. The trail will be quite rocky at times. Descend to Campbellís Creek at 1.48 miles. There is a campsite capable of holding about 4 tents at this point and a small waterfall and swimming hole about 0.1 miles down a signed spur trail to the left. 

Continue up the Mau-Har Tr for another 1.51 miles. For the most part the trail follows the stream. In a few spots youíll have to navigate up some big rocks and cross the stream 2 or 3 times. Youíll pass another streamside campsite along a relatively flat stretch of old woods road before turning right and climbing a steep footpath to Maupin Field shelter. The shelter is OK but you may actually find it more comfortable if you relaxed at one of the nearby, signed campsites. The spur trail that leads to the campsites (left and right joins the AT at a kiosk on a service road. Turn left onto the road but shortly turn right onto a footpath. Over the next 0.7 miles youíll climb gradually over the last hill of the trip. The last 0.8 miles is either flat or downhill. Youíll know youíre close to the end when you find yourself walking along the edge of a large meadow to your left. Soon find yourself at Reedís Gap and your awaiting vehicles.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trailnotes

Critique This Outing

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Name: Brad                                                                                                                 Hike: Hog Camp Gap to Reeds Gap Shuttle (modified)
Date: 10/10-10/12/2008                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: Started this hike on Friday evening at Hog Camp Gap after sunset. Hiked up the Tar Jacket Ridge in the dark and made camp at the top. It was a cold and windy night, but very clear with a bright moon.

The next day we awoke at sunrise and got warm by the fire, ate some food, and then headed northward. Many great vistas along this stretch of the trail and overall this part of the hike was not too difficult with gradual ascents and descents. The fall colors had begun to show on many of the trees and temperatures were in the 70s with bright sunshine. We did see a bear about a mile before crossing the North Fork. It took off running from the left side of the trail; not full-sized but not a cub either. We stopped by the Seeley-Woodworth shelter and took a break for lunch. We then continued northward. Beware of the yellow jackets about a half mile beyond the shelter heading northward! There are several nests in the ground around a stretch of the trail that goes through a small grove of apple trees. We had to walk quickly through this area to avoid being stung.

We then continued on and made camp at Spy Rock. A few others were camping at the campsite below us, but we actually made camp up on the rock and had a good fire going to stay warm. It became very windy and cold up here at night. Some of the other hikers came and hung out around our fire for a while. The sunset, and sunrise the next morning, at Spy Rock were amazing! This has to be one of the best vistas I have ever seen!

After getting warmed up in the morning by the fire, we continued northward on the AT and climbed over Maintop Mountain and then continued toward the Priest. The climb up the Priest from Crabtree Road was the hardest part of this trek so far, but still much easier than climbing up the Priest from Rt. 56 would be. We stopped at the top of the Priest for lunch and enjoyed the overview to the west from boulders to the left side of the trail.

We then began the steep descent of the Priest which became difficult for me after pulling a tendon in my left knee earlier in the day on some rocks. We had left our second vehicle at the parking area by the Tye River and not at Reed's Gap as we had decided that we may not want to do Chimney Rock based on time restrictions. By the time I got to the base of the Priest I could not bend my left leg, so we decided we made a smart move in leaving the truck here.

Overall this hike was a 5 for the views and the overall scenery of the woods. Spy Rock and the Priest were the highlights of this hike for me and I plan to complete the last portion of this hike at a later time.

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Name: Matt                                                                                                                Hike: Hog Camp Gap - Reeds Gap
Date: Oct 21-23-06                                                                                                  Rating: 4

Critique: Great weekend to hike.

We hiked from North to South, Reeds Gap to Hog Camp Gap, for car shuttle reasons.  We climbed up out of Reeds Gap on a great sunny day.  We then followed the Mau-Har Trail down to the Tye River.  This was a nice trail that followed a stream most of the way down the mountain.  Trail was kind of rocky but was well maintained and marked.  Stayed the night at the Tye River.  Great camp on the north side of the river, the road was a little too close for my liking but great overall.

Awoke on day 2 to clouds and fog.  Grueling 4 mile uphill hike to the Priest shelter for lunch.  COLD!  After the uphill ended and things leveled out the hiking was really cool with the clouds laying low, gave the forest an eerie feeling. Was starting to get a little bummed out with the weather, but in no time things cleared up and got sunny for us as we got to Spy Rock.  Spy Rock is a must for anyone hiking in the area.  We wished we had more time to spend there but had to press on for a night at the Seely-Woodworth Shelter.  Spy Rock afforded us 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge and valleys, great place to camp as well.
The Seely-Woodworth shelter was nice and had water available just a short hike away.  The night got real cold, 30 degrees when we awoke.  We hiked the rest of the way out on the AT to Hog Camp Gap.   The cold inspired us to put those 7.7 miles away in just 3 hours. There are some great views in this portion of the hike.  IF you wanted to shorten the hike a little you could save almost 1.5 miles by using the old AT (Livingston Springs Trail).

Great weekend of hiking with a couple of old friends.  The hike covered nearly 25 miles over 2 nights and 3 days.  We started Saturday afternoon and finished up Monday morning around 11 or so.  Great hike that can be completed easily over 3 days.  I would suggest hiking south to north and staying the first night at Spy Rock.  The Livingston Spring Trail will shorten it up to get you there more quickly.  Great hike, great weekend.  Gotta get out more often!

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