Ramseys Draft-East

Description: This 17.1 mile moderate hike is the twin sister of the Ramsey’s Draft-West Loop. The entire first day is identical to that of the West loop ending at Hiner Spring for the night. The hike on the second day uses Hiner Spring Trail, Wild Oak National Recreation Trail, Bald Ridge Trail and the Bridge Hollow Trail to complete the circuit. Many more of the giant Hemlocks have succumbed to the Wooly Adelgid since I was last there in 2005 and many more have fallen across the trail in the draft making for very slow going in places. The trails and the trees are in much better shape along the ridge walk. Occasional “Window” views of Great North Mountain and other ridge lines can be had on a clear day. As with its sister this hike has 20+ water crossings so be prepared. Total elevation gain is 2900 feet.

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The hike begins at a kiosk at the end of a gravel road behind the Mountain House picnic area.



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Trail Notes: Most, but not all, trail junctions are signed. Wilderness trails, shown as blue on the map, are not blazed. The Wild Oak NRT and trails outside of the wilderness are blazed.


From the kiosk proceed up the Ramseys Draft Trail soon passing the Road Hollow trail on the left and Bridge Hollow trail (your return route) on the right. For the most part you will be following an old CCC road that crosses the draft many times but twice leaves the road for a narrow path in areas where the road had been washed out by the draft or blocked by other obstacles. Keep an eye out for these diversions. We’ve noted all of the campsites along the route and the distances between them. All in the valley are on water. Those along Bald Ridge are all dry except one that has a small wildlife pond close by. (This water source becomes pretty skanky in the summer months.) After about 7.4 miles of crossing streams and negotiating blowdowns reach Hiner Spring, your home for the night. You have the choice of sleeping in an open grassy area or under one of the few remaining living giants. (I prefer the latter. I don’t know why.)


The next day finds you returning to a trail junction you passed but probably didn’t see just before Hiner Springs. There is an old Ramseys Draft sign on the ground propped up by some rocks. Turn left onto the unsigned Hiner Spring Trail. This dips down into a saddle and then climbs gradually to a junction with the white blazed Wild Oak NRT in 1.39 miles from last night’s camp. Turn right here. In 1.24 miles arrive at a small wildlife pond on the right. The trail turns left into a campsite here. Immediately upon entering the site turn right onto un-blazed and  un-signed Bald Ridge Trail, leaving the WONRT behind. In another 2.17 miles the trail, at a fire ring, turns abruptly to the left and descends a short distance to follow a narrow sidehill path below the ridge. At this point you are barely outside of the wilderness boundary and the trail is now blazed yellow. After a short distance the trail rejoins the ridge but remains outside of the wilderness. In 2.43 miles from leaving the wilderness, arrive at the junction with the yellow blazed Bridge Hollow Trail. Turn right onto to it.

In 2.20 miles arrive back at the draft. (Take note of the hand constructed rock cribbing that supports the steps along the final descent. It’s an amazing example of what manual labor can accomplish!) Ford the draft and soon arrive back at the Ramseys Draft Trail. Turn left and retrace yesterday morning’s footsteps back to your vehicle.


Critique This Outing



Outing Critiques


Name: Lefty                                                                                                                  Hike: Ramseys Dradt-East

Date(s): 06/07-08/14                                                                                               Rating: 4


Critique: My sons ,both Eagle Scouts and I decided to do this hike over a weekend. They could easily hike circles around me and knowing this to be a difficult wilderness area gave me concern. We decided to hike in to Hiner Springs on Saturday using the longer route Bald Ridge trail. Knowing there to be limited water on this route we all had 3 water bottles packed. This trail was a strenuous workout for me with many ups and downs, some on unsteady rock. We took it slow and steady and made it to Hiner Springs just in time to set up camp before dark. Great camping sites right next to the spring. Quite a few deer in the area to greet us. A few other campers in the area as well. Sunday morning we broke camp, had breakfast and began our return on the Ramsey Draft Trail. All downhill from Hiner Springs. The first mile is mostly following a creek bed needing extra care on the rocky trail. After that the trail is pretty good. There are several deadfall trees you will have to cross which take a little effort but were manageable. At least the 20 stream crossings as described ( seemed the most difficult were near the trail end ). Our return to Mountain House was much quicker due to all downhill and better trail conditions.



Name: Megan                                                                                                               Hike: Ramseys Draft-East

Date(s): 11/16-17/13                                                                                               Rating: 5


Critique: I absolutely loved this hike. It was certainly difficult, especially it being my first overnight backpacking trip. Going after all the leaves had fallen provided little traffic on the trail and amazing views along the ridge line. We camped on Big Bald Knob, which did make for a windy and cold night, but that was to be expected. The second day was very different from the first going down into the valley with slippery and difficult footing at many times. We did not mind having to climb over several large fallen trees or rock hopping, for us it only added to the adventure and enjoyment. It was absolutely beautiful the whole way. Be mindful however that during the wet season you have to be very careful of your footing past the spring so as to not slip. We packed enough water to last us the first full day since there is no other good source of water, then refilled at the spring which is your best bet of clean water because further down into the valley there are several beaver dams which can contaminate the water. We did actually see 2 bears separately, which was fantastic, though also something to be mindful of safety wise, and lots of scat along the path. This in my opinion was a great hike, I would suggest however that this not be hiked in the middle of the summer considering that would make you lose those great views and would make trudging through all the brush very difficult.


Name: B                                                                                                                         Hike: Ramsey's Draft-East
Date: 09-10 to 11- 2010                                                                                             Rating: 4

Critique: The Restoration Crew has been hard at work and the Ramsey's Draft Trail is pretty clear from the trailhead to the Spring. Once at the Spring the trail is kind of hard to find. There was water in the Draft and the campsites are in good shape. Saw some wild birds, a king snake, and a baby black bear (wonder where mom was).

Overall, a good hike.



Name: mark                                                                                                                  Hike: Ramsey's Draft-East
Date: July 3-4 2010                                                                                                     Rating: 1

Critique: I've been using this site since moving to DC 3 years ago and it has been a real blessing and a fantastic resource. Until today I had not reviewed a trail, finding most of the trips to be quite pleasant and worth pursuing....that is, until today.

The Ramsey's draft east trail is probably the worst I have done in the Mid-Atlantic region. Extremely overgrown in places, and hard to follow I often had my compass out to confirm we were walking in the correct direction, that alone is not a huge problem as I tend to enjoy navigational challenges, it becomes tedious when you are fighting dense bush consisting of lots of stinging nettles and briar making it very painful. My wife and I ended up putting on our sleeping long underwear to avoid the burning from the plants and suffering the heat rather than itching. Now that you are no longer walking amongst giant Hemlocks (for the east coast) and do without too many views (at this time of year) it has little to recommend it. It is sad to see the Hemlocks all dead, this was probably a beautiful hike in the past when the trail was clear

This weekend the draft was mostly dry. We camped before the spring afraid it would be too crowded up there, so we had fairly nice solitary campsite with a bit of running water. The spring site was very buggy, swampy and the spring looked kind of nasty when we walked by this morning. We were glad we stayed lower down even though it made for a longer day out today.

Maybe once the restoration work is done and in the fall when the foliage is less dense so there might be a few views of fall colors it might be worth it, but there are far better places to go in the Mid-Atlantic.


Name: Kris Herbst                                                                                                       Hike: Ramsey's Draft-East
Date: April 30, 2010                                                                                                    Rating: 4

Critique: Following the trail up Ramsey's Draft from the Mountain Home trail head, there are 6 crossings before you reach the intersection with the Jerry's Run trail and 6 more to the point where the Left and Right Prongs of Ramsey's Draft merge and you head up the little valley of the Right Prong. The water was low for us and crossings were easy, leaving hiking boots dry as we crossed on stepping stones. Downed trees slowed us down slightly but they are marked for clearing by trail crews soon. On the other hand, the Jerry's Run Trail is heavily obstructed by large downed trees - forcing us to crawl under and around them - not pleasant and slow going.

The Right Prong stream is small enough that the three crossings are just a hop across. What was once a notable virgin hemlock grove in the Right Prong is now a sad graveyard of hemlocks - easily 90%+ are dead now (they have been wiped out by the the hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect introduced from Asia) and with their shade gone, the ground is exposed to sun and the trail is crowded by yellow birch sapling branches - making this part of the trail a hot, brushy slog. This had been perhaps the most beautiful place to camp in Ramsey's Draft - it isn't anymore.

We filled water bottles at Hiner Spring at the top of the Right Prong - a good thing because it was the last potable water we saw as we completed a loop back via the Hiner Spring, Wild Oak, Bald Ridge and Bridge Hollow trails (walking the eastern ridge above Ramsey's Draft). These trails have not suffered storm damage and were clear. The small wildlife pond at the intersection of the Wild Oak and Bald Ridge trails - between Big Bald Knob and Gordon's Peak - had some murky water in it. This section has fantastic views, at least before all the leaves are out.


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