Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This route starts at the scales, which is only accessible by forest service road. Make sure you have a high clearance, 4WD car.
This out and back mostly takes you through balds, but does dip into forested areas. Wild cows and horses populate the area and you are likely to encounter them. Wildflowers, rhododendrons, and mountain laurels are abundant. This trail is exposed for much of the hike, so be sure you have adequate water and sun protection. This hike is great for inexperienced backpackers, but the signage can be confusing so, I would recommend going with a group.
Getting there: You'll turn off of VA route 603 onto 613. This is the forest service road that takes you to the scales. If you are having trouble finding it on google maps, there is a place called Appalachian Horseback Riding Adventures that is literally right next to this forest service rd. entrance. Follow this road up to the scales. There are a few places where it forks off onto trails, but the direction of the road is obvious. The gate at the top is always closed, but it is usually unlocked. Once you pass this gate, you are at the scales, where you can park freely.
From the scales, head west onto the crest trail. This trail is rocky and uneven for the first part of the hike but features open pastures with cows and horses and some gorgeous views. After about 3 miles, you'll reach a gap where several trails intersect. If coming up from the scales, on your right you'll see a rocky outcropping. Climb up it for a gorgeous 360° view of the surrounding peaks. Proceed on the crest trail past these peaks to enter an open field where there is water, camping, and a bear box available.
ATTENTION: Do NOT leave this open field via the crest trail through a gate on the southwest end. Doing so will take you to the VA highlands horse trail. If you do end up making this mistake, turn right when you reach the intersection onto the VA horse trail and hike until you see a steep path going uphill on your right. This connector trail will take you back up the ridge to the AT, where you need to be. After arriving on the AT, turn left to proceed to Mt. Rogers or right to start hiking back to the scales.
Leave this open field by finding the AT on the west end. Follow the AT until you reach the intersection with the Mount Rogers Summit Trail
. Along the way, you'll pass Thomas Knob Shelter on your left.
The trails are well marked and easy to follow apart from the part mentioned above. This is a truncated and reversed version of a backpacking loop found at: midatlantichikes.com/mountr…
Shared By: Ethan Gates