AT-Mau-Har Trail Loop

Description: This is a strenuous loop that can be done either as a long day hike or overnight backpacking trip. Just as the AT shuttle through this area has been the hardest backpacking trip I致e undertaken to date (08-06) this has got to be the hardest day hike yet! The circuit (lollipop in shape) spans 14.4 miles and a total elevation change of around 6800 feet. The vistas and Campbell Creek (could have used a little more water in it) made the effort well worth it. The Campbell Creek Canyon floor is covered in white and pink Trillium Gradiflorum in the spring.

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The trailhead is at the junction of the Blue Ridge Parkway and VA RT664.



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Trail Notes: All trail junctions are signed. The Appalachia Trail is blazed white while the Mau-Har Trail is blazed blue. The AT comes through the parking lot in the left hand corner. Pick it up and proceed south along the edge of a grassy meadow. In the summer it is full of wildflowers. At first the trail is flat but will soon switchback up to a ridge. At about 0.80 miles come to a nice but dry campsite to the left and the first vista of the trek to the right. From here you can get a sweeping view to the west and the village of Love in the valley below. Continue on. Descend and in another 0.80 miles arrive at a kiosk on an old woods road. Maupin Fields Shelter is along the trail behind the kiosk. (You will come up from the Mau-Har Tr here later on.) Continue on the AT, passing a sign for the Three Ridges Wilderness along the way. Soon start climbing, steeply at times, to the ridge of Bee Mountain. Once at the top you will enjoy nearly flat walking for the next 1.92 miles before arriving at the next vista. This is a great break spot as you値l enjoy an unbroken panoramic view with the Priest in the center. To the left you値l be able to see the summit of Three Ridges and Chimney Rock.


After your break continue to climb to the summit. In 1.03 miles arrive at a signpost marking it. There is a small, dry campsite to the left and another vista looking north. From here begin a steep descent via some pretty rocky switchbacks to a lower ridge where things will flatten out again. In 0.48 miles watch for the fourth vista to the right. Continue south on the AT. At 0.55 miles from the last vista keep an eye out for a small rock outcrop on the right. This is before the actual Chimney Rock Vista. It doesn稚 look like much but once you scramble out to its edge you値l enjoy another great view, this one to the west. Continue on another 0.14 miles to the primary vista, Chimney Rock. Here you値l get yet another grand view. You値l see the rock outcrop to the right as you approach it. Drop your packs and take your camera up for more sweeping views.


From Chimney Rock begin another descent. In about 0.5 miles you値l pass through 2 more vistas. One is at a large flat rock. In another 1.35 miles arrive at a spur trail to the right that leads to Harpers Creek Shelter. If you are backpacking this route I would recommend calling it a day here.

 The next campsite on water is 2 miles and a nice hill away. Besides the shelter and privy there are several campsites on both sides of the stream. Perhaps the largest and flattest is a little further down the AT where it crosses the creek. It is marked with a sign.


At the Harpers Creek Shelter spur the AT makes a hard left paralleling the creek a short distance before crossing it. Follow this route and in 0.69 miles reach the junction with blue blazed Mau-Har Trail. Turn right onto it. The trail will be mostly flat at first but you will eventually climb up and over another ridge before dropping down into the Campbell Creek canyon (1.55 miles from the last trail junction). There you will find a campsite large enough for about 4 tents and a yellow blazed spur trail to the left that leads to a nice swimming hole and waterfall.


After a refreshing break begin the climb out of the canyon. The trail is pretty rocky with large boulders you have to step up onto. In 1.10 miles from the swimming hole cross the right fork of the creek and turn left, following the left fork. You will get a short respite from climbing, pass a small campsite on the water痴 edge to the left and cross the stream twice before climbing to the Maupin Field Shelter. This is about 1.04 miles from the last campsite.


From the shelter take the main spur trail directly in front of it out to the kiosk you passed at the beginning of the hike. Retrace your initial steps back to Reeds Gap and your car.


Critique This Outing











Name: WV Backpacker                                                                                             Hike: AT-Mauhar Trail Loop

Date: 11/10/14                                                                                                          Rating: 5


Critique: This loop was hiked over two nights, and three days as a low mileage, fun early start to the week. Approaching the AT trailhead close to sunset, day one was an approach to the Maupin Field Shelter. Nice easy beginning hike in. Being Veterans Day weekend, there were plenty of campers, surprising for a 40ーF day.  

Day 2 began ascending to Bee Mountain, and on to the first ridge. I feel this is the best overlook over the entire trip, primarily overlooking the Priest Wilderness to the south. The trail continues along the Appalachian Trail, shortly ascending to the second ridge, the highest elevation of the journey. This ridge has little exposed areas for viewing. Following the ridge line, it is another easy reach to the third ridge. I found two separate areas with stunning viewpoints, both peaceful and powerful. Note: both the second and third ridges have primitive camp areas, but with NO WATER. Next comes a long descent. This time of year makes this easily the most challenging part of the hike. I highly recommend close supervision of new hikers, especially those backpacking with weight on their shoulders. Considerable amounts of leaves hide EVERY nasty rock on the trail. Lots of Oak trees here drop their acorns, and it happens to be a very sheltered, quiet area for bears to dine. Harpers Creek Shelter is also sheltered well, both from the wind and the sunshine.  

The hike out is easy going southbound on the AT, as well as the beginning of the northbound Mau-Har hike. Beyond the waterfall/swimming hole area, it becomes a hike that requires patience, and several short breaks. All uphill. Once you start seeing a few firs, you will find yourself approaching the Maupin Field shelter.



Name: Terry Reifsteck                                                                                              Hike: Mau Har Loop
Date: 11/3012                                                                                                           Rating: 5

Critique: Plan on 9 hours of the best Virginia Highlands hiking this side of Interstate 81. I strongly recommend starting this trek from Tye River, because what goes up will indeed descend. My trip took 10 hours with 9 on the trail and 1 for lunch and stops. Since I'd been up Three Ridges before from Tye, it seemed prudent to hike this loop clockwise, if only to avoid the monster climb you'll encounter going against time. Weather was perfect today, with temps in the low 30's at the start and overcast sun for most of the day. Mau Har is interesting to say the least. From the junction at AT south, plan on a park like lope for the first 30 minutes. Then, the ridge in front of you begs for a tunnel but alas...chug up this hill only to descend another 500 feet into the next drainage. Mau Har must be Latin for Rocky, Steep and Unrelenting. But, don't lose hope. As wild as this ride gets in the middle, on the other end you get to lope through the park again. The rocks quit, the gradient eases and you'll find yourself at Maupin Shelter within 4 hour of your Tye River start. The rest is all down hill, with the exception of a minor climb to the top of Bee Mountain. Nice overlooks, lunch spots and not much water between the shelters. Go out there and enjoy this one. That's why it's there.



Name: Sam A                                                                                                              Hike: AT-Mau-Har Trail Loop
Date: 9/23/12                                                                                                           Rating: 4

Critique: Nice hike! Got in late and slept at the Maupin Shelter. Woke up at 530 to catch some stars and packed along the AT with a headlamp to find a decent place to catch the sunrise. Though tough at times, I thought it was not too bad if you're in shape. I got back to the shelter via Mau Trail in about 7 hours (including a 1 hour roundtrip to go back and get a knife I left at a vista), so definitely doable in a day if you haven't much time and are up for a challenge.

Only place I really got lost was at the big campsite at Campells Creek. I went along the yellow blazed trail to the waterfall then couldn't find the Mau Trail again... it's dead ahead from the sign post, you'll see the blue blazes on the rocks ahead of it.



Name: jenny s                                                                                                            Hike: Three Ridges loop
Date: 4/14 to 4/16/2012                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: Did a 3-day loop starting at the south end on the AT by the Tye River. Recommend the campsite on the ridge above Maupin Field Shelter (on the AT side) for some nice breezes. Campbell Creek is beautiful and beautifully cool. I'd prefer to do this counterclockwise any day. Great views and sore muscles and healthy lungs at the end of the trip.

I have not even one photo of any of it because I lost my camera on the AT portion of the trail between Chimney Rock and Bee Mountain (probably north of the high point). Offering a monetary reward for its return as a functional camera. It's a pocket Canon SD1300 digital ( and has about 200 to 300 photos on it. It's in a small black carrying case with a thin shoulder strap. Find it and I'll put some money toward a new camera for you. Contact me at Thanks.

For the plant and wildflower fans...saw HILLSIDES of trillium especially along the Mau-Har, also dutchmen's breeches, pink ladyslipper (just starting), dogwood, solomon's seal, fire pinks, blueberries starting to bloom (!), LOTS of poison ivy, may apple, spider wort, wild geranium, even a couple of fallen tulip poplar flowers, and showy orchis.



Name: Kelly and Linda                                                                                              Hike: AT/Mau-Har Loop
Date: 8/8/2011                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: My husband and I left the parking area after a big lunch and water. We loved the hike but wish we had the trail map. It was very strenuous but exhilarating!

We ended up hiking out about 3.5 and back. We were tired! We would like to go back and do this trail in 2 days.



Name: Alex Dean                                                                                                       Hike: AT/Mau Har Loop
Date: June 17-19, 2011                                                                                           Rating: 5

Critique: We started out with a group of Boy Scouts on Friday evening from Reed's Gap parking lot. We hiked into Maupin Field Shelter and set up camp around 11:30pm. Our plan was to hike up to Three Ridges and have lunch, then down to Harper's Creek Shelter, restock on water, hop on the Mau-Har and hike to Campbells Creek to camp at the waterfall, then hike back to Maupin Field Shelter, meet up with the younger Scouts and hike back to the cars at Reeds Gap. Well, when we got to the camping area at the waterfall, the campsite was full. Do we turn back to Harper's Creek Shelter or do we press on to Maupin Field Shelter? We chose to press on to Maupin Field Shelter. Boy was that a strenuous hike!! We made it back to the shelter around 6:30pm very tired. Early to bed and back out to the cars Sunday morning. If I knew we would be making the entire 14.4 mile loop in one day, I would have just carried the essentials for a day hike. It would have been a lot easier on the the four dads and the four 12 year old scouts carrying their full camping backpacks. The kids actually held up better than the dads! The boys had a great feeling of accomplishment and they will probably never forget this experience. I know I won't!! What a great trip!



Name: Travis Martin                                                                                                  Hike: AT/Mau-Har Loop
Date: 10-13-09                                                                                                           Rating: 4.5

Critique: Started at six thirty as the sun was coming up. The first several miles were easy and the up-hills weren't too steep. Saw a huge pile of fresh bear pooh which had me a little bit on edge. The long descent down Three Ridges is when it started to get a little bit tough, because the trail is made up mostly of sharp, uneven rocks and roots. Hardly a single footfall is on flat ground, so its crucial to have boots that can take a beating.
Stopped for a brief rest at Harpers Creek shelter. The creek was almost completely dry but it looked like a good place to camp if you are backpacking.

Starting up the Mau-Har trail started to get really tiring and this was the rockiest stretch, as well as steepest as you climb out of the Creek. The leaves are turning up there right now so that made for some great scenery. The final 3 miles were a killer on my feet and knees but I made it back to the car at 3:30, 8 hours after i started. way faster than I expected but I didn't make any extra long stops. I was going mighty slow for the last mile though. I was pretty beat. This isn't a trail for people who are out of shape or ill equipped.



Name: CRaig                                                                                                                Hike: AT- Mau-Har Trail loop
Date: Aug 10-12, 2008                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: This was a great experience! MY brother and I hiked it (began mid-day Sun and ended mid-day on Tues) and broke it up over 3days and two evenings. This allowed us to stop when we wanted to and enjoy the incredible views and scenery. This also allowed us to go hit the "hay" early and wake up late each morning (later than a work day). Like the other postings here, it is a tough workout on your legs (I couldn't imagine doing it in a single day, unless you are hiking for a workout/exercise and not for pleasure.

All the trails were marked well and all but two places were difficult to maneuver due to a downed tree.
We took the AT trail first then met up with the Mau-Har Trail the second part. The toughest part of the trail was between Harpers Creek Shelter and second Campbell Creek campsite, then it leveled out on the way back to Maupin Field Shelter.

We saw deer our first morning at the Maupin Field Shelter area (lots of separated camp sites) and then in the same area the next afternoon. Plenty of wild animals passed by during the night at Campbell Creek camp site. Possibly due to Campbell Creek actually having cascading water for us and the local inhabitants to drink from. My brother's dog alerted us during the evening.
Due to little rain the previous weeks, Harper's Creek was virtually dry except for a small pool of water due to light rains on our first evening. IF the area doesn't get much rains you may want to stock up on your water supply for the Hike along the AT.
IF you are allergic to bees, don't stop at Bee Mountain to see the views, You don't want to have any medical conditions while on the trail.

Enjoy your hike!




Name: B. Gordon                                                                                                        Hike: AT-Mau-Har Trail Loop
Date: 5/10/2008                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: As advertised, this is a very strenuous hike. We did it as an overnight, staying at the Harpers Creek Shelter area and were the only ones camping there. The creeks are really flowing right now so if you can break free soon get out and see them. From other reviews it seems that the creeks can turn to a trickle quickly as we get into the summer months and no rain. The trillium and rhododendron are blooming and were beautiful. Don't miss the yellow blazed side trail to see the waterfalls on Campbell Creek on the way up the Mau Har Trail, a worthwhile side trip. I highly recommend using trekking poles for this hike. An excellent hike and even better done over 2 days.



Name: Nicholas                                                                                                          Hike: AT/Mau-Har Loop
Date: 2/16-17/08                                                                                                      Rating: 4.5

Critique: Great hike, tremendous overlooks, always going either up or down. About half hour into the hike, while resting on a large boulder, we were lucky enough to see a doe and fawn come into view and then (mistakenly on their part) nearly run straight into us as they sensed our presence, getting to within about 7 yards before veering off course and into the woods.

There was good water at Maupin Fields shelter - we started very light on water to conserve the weight for a bit, and then filled up there. Campbell Creek was running strongly. Continued on the AT after Maupin Fields, and the trail climbed almost continually, with a few flat spots, up to the summit of Three Ridges. With the leaves gone, the views were excellent along the way. Before the summit, we saw a print from a large cat of some type, probably close to three inches long from heel to tip of the claws, but we never saw the print's owner.

After the summit came the most difficult part of the day in the switchbacks. The problem was that on large sections of the trail, there were thick beds of leaves sometimes covering the trail up to a foot and a half deep. They were very slippery, and covered up some pretty big rocks. You almost had to shuffle your feet as you went through. Also, this section of the trail was a bit difficult to follow because it was invisible beneath the leaves and there were not many blazes from the summit south to Harper's Creek.

Harper's Creek Shelter is in great shape. The creek was flowing strongly. The only drawback was there was no firewood around, so rather than two hours of gathering wood and carrying it some distance, we went without a fire.

The Mau-Har was the most difficult aspect of the loop. There were a number of major tree falls which completely blocked the trail. Tree falls by Campbell Creek required some difficult detours, one of which consisting of not-too difficult rock climbing. Once the trail moved away from the water, it got easier.

Hike would have been a 5 if not for the tree falls which added unnecessary difficulty to an already difficult hike.




Name: Ian                                                                                                                    Hike: AT/Mau-Har, 3 Ridges Loop
Date: 8/07                                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: A friend and I did this loop. We started at the Tye, went north on the AT and came back vai Mau-Har the next morning. This direction is extremely strenuous. Get your pack as light as you can and get ready for lots of switchbacks, unending relentless switchbacks. First hike I've been on where my calves literally stopped working for a while.

The trail has great views. There were a surprising amount of people on it the weekend that we went but I must say it was a surprisingly beautiful weekend to go hiking.

We split the hike at the Maupin Field Shelter where the AT and Mau-Har's northern most intersection is, 1.6 miles from the Reed's Gap parking lot. Taking the Mau-Har back the next morning was nice. Not nearly as painful as the way up and over the three ridges.



Name: Jay GA>ME05                                                                                                 Hike: AT - Mau-Har  Loop
Date: 7/4/07                                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: This makes for a spectacular and rugged day hike.  Shed the heavy backpacking equipment, and all of this elevation change goes much easier.  We did it in about 9 hours, at a leisurely pace. Be sure to climb down to the lovely swimming pools and waterfall on the Mau-Har section.  Thru-hikers, if you take the blue blaze and skip 3 ridges, I think it'll give you a good taste of hiking in the north.  LOVELY COUNTRY!



Name: Treebeard                                                                                                       Hike: AT-Mau-Har
Date: 4/21/07                                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: This was a great backpack. The one word that I have used to describe the hike is "relentless". This is because you are either going up or down (very little to no level walking) on some difficult terrain. Just when you are catching your breath from a challenging uphill, down you go. I guess this is what you need to do to cover the almost 8000 feet of elevation change over 14 miles. The vistas are numerous and some are spectacular. Hiking upward along a cascade was beautiful with nice waterfalls and flora along the way. It was also nice to see the beginning of the wild flowers starting to pop.



Name: Tony                                                                                                                 Hike: AT-Mau-Har
Date: 4/21/2007                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: This is an excellent hike with many beautiful vistas along the AT, and small waterfalls and pools on the Mau-Har. The elevation gain for the entire circuit is nearly 4,000ft, so with a backpack of 30+ pounds this is a very strenuous hike. However, definitely a must-do for any serious backpacker in the Old Dominion. You just can't beat all the scenery in this part of the state!



Name: Rick                                                                                                                   Hike: Three Ridge Trail/Mau-Har Trail
Date: 10/13-10/15/06                                                                                             Rating: 5

Critique: Thank you so much for this site.  I went on this hike about 5 years ago and I couldn't figure it out until I found it here.  So, thank you first of all.

The map was helpful and your description was just as helpful.  A couple things for improvement.  The Route marker is VA Rt 664 not 644.  However, mile marker 13 was precise.  Also, we weren't sure if the distance on the topo provided were crow's flight or actual distance in steps.

It was a perfect weekend provided one had an adequate sleeping bag.  I did not but my buddies had great sleeping bags.  Needless to say, I froze, they didn't.  I just didn't think it would be that cold.  The rest of the trip was great!  We took pictures and videos of our adventure and met a few people along the way.  That's it for now.  I'll have to write more later. Thanks!


The Rt # has been changed. All trail segment distances are "as walked".


Name: Mad Hatter                                                                                                      Hike: Mau Har-AT
Date: January 01, 2000                                                                                             Rating: 5+

Critique: Did this hike as part of a backpack on Y2K evening (on the way down we heard Japan had passed into 2000 without problems) to prove camp stoves are not affected by ushering in a new century.  We parked at a road at the Harpers Creek Shelter end of the AT and camped near that shelter.  On the overcast second day we did the circuit with its strenuous climb up to Chimney Rocks and along Three Ridges.  Views were clear though I could only remember Chimney Rocks.   We ate lunch at the Mau Har shelter, and ventured to the Mau Har Trail, not knowing it was not the pleasant walk presupposed by the map.  Yes, rocky boulder-strewn footing, but a nice creek, with water at that time.  When we reached the southern end and wanted to exit the drainage, it seemed like we went up, and up, and.   I let out a colorful word about the continued relentless uphill since at that time we were tired.  Finally the AT appeared and we joyfully returned to our campsite.  Though no rain, the over
 cast kept the area warmer, and on our return day the sun appeared.  Since my friend relished steep uphills, I told her The Priest, the next uphill south from where we parked would suit her.


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