Monday, December 15, 2014

A Good Leafless Hike - Mau-Har / AT loop in Virginia

Are you looking for a good challenge while trying to maintain winter fitness- And enjoy waterfalls and views galore? Then the Mau-har loop trail is a good choice. This fourteen plus loop takes you through a rugged canyon with waterfalls and across the terrain called the Three Ridges along the famous Appalachian Trail. You can do it in one long day hike or divide it into an overnighter.

The trailhead is located on Rt 56 on the way to Crabtree Falls (another great spectacle in the winter, especially if it is frozen. So you may want to return to this area again!) There is a parking lot. If you go in hunting season, be sure to wear blaze orange. I counted many hunters and hound dogs on the trail in mid December, carrying rifles.

Enter the AT across the road and walk across the swaying suspension bridge over the Tye River. I elected to do this trail by way of ascending to Maupin Shelter (three miles) via the Mau-har trail, then return on the AT along the Three Ridges. Though steep up and downs, and thick leaves, this way allowed me to view the waterfalls on the way up. I recommend you take hiking poles. There are several small campsites near the stream.

The trail dead ends right at the Maupin Shelter with plenty of campsites if you want to overnight here. Take a right on the Appalachian Trail to begin your journey over the Three Ridges. Don't rush this part. There are nice views, but lots of downhills too that can test your knees.

Maupin Shelter area has a bear pole to store your food

You get a great view looking back at The Priest and several overlooks to rest before your return trip into the valley. There is also one final shelter area - Harper's Creek - with more camping, approx 2.5 mile from the road.

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