Bold claim, yes. But I’ll say it again, Three Ridges is the best overall hiking near Richmond VA. How many other hiking routes within two hours of Richmond offer up two days worth of hiking, two Appalachian Trail shelters, two separate entrances, two separate unique trails, beautiful views and can be hiked as a loop!?!
It’s mostly beginner friendly as long as you’re in decent shape and want a challenge. But also can be enjoyed by novices and advanced hikers alike. Even trail runners love it!
Feel like I just squeezed the whole post into the first paragraph.
But alas, I have more great things to say about it!
Three Ridges Hike
Three Ridges is known as a lolli-pop loop. You can enter the main loop by hiking in on the Appalachian Trail from either the north or south end of the trail. The Appalachian Trail is the ‘stick’ of the lolli-pop while the Three Ridges trail and Mau-Har Trail return makes the actual lolli-pop.
The northern entrance is the more popular entry spot. It has a decent sized parking area. But be sure to grab the first empty spot you see if you’re hiking in the summer after 10am.
The southern entrance has a smaller parking lot and also fills up pretty quickly in the warmer months.
Disclaimer: Getting to Three Ridges from Richmond can take longer than 2 hours, depending on the route taken. If you take the relaxing drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, it might push you over the two hour mark. But it’ll be well worth it. You can also stop by Raven’s Roost and one of the many other beautiful lookout spots.
Freeze Dried Ice Cream Sandwiches
Last year for my birthday I went out there with a few friends. One of the guys ended up not feeling well so we actually scrapped hiking up Three Ridges itself and just hiked down Mau-Har Trail to Harper’s Creek Shelter for the night.
Mau-Har Trail is a little more technical but by having that shorter path to a shelter, we were still able to enjoy the trip and not have to cancel it all together.
That’s one of the perks of the Three Ridge Hike, it’s flexibility.
While at the shelter we actually grabbed a nearby campsite, setup a nice fire, went for a little cool-down dip in the creek, swapped stories with another hiker, and even had freeze dried ice cream as a birthday celebration for me! My friends even brought sparklers and shoved them in the sandwiches. Took me a few mins to even realize what was being handed to me. I’ll just say they were a little unique, but hey it was the thought that counts!
I had my Fujifilm X100F with me during the hike so I was able to capture a few shots during the trip. Check those out below:
But getting back to the actual hike, the other shelter there is Maupin Field. It’s a good place to stop for a snack or lunch depending on what part of the loop you’re doing. I typically stay at this one a lot because it’s only about two miles from the northern entrance. I’ll often get there late on a Friday night and hike to the shelter to sleep. Even if I don’t make it the full two miles, there’s a few campsites a mile in I might stop at.
Sweet Pea & Her BLT’s
Also insider tip. If you’re not in a hurry to get there, take Route 250 and stop by D’Amore’s Food Market in Louisa for BLT’s made by Sweet Pea. Love those things. I normally grab two and eat them on the way. I’ve found that she’s there early in the morning. That’s also when she cuts the bacon straight from the slab…So good!!!
If you’re interested in the finer details of the trip, check out HikingUpward’s Three Ridges Guide. They’re pretty thorough and what I used my first couple times there.
That wraps up my thoughts on best hiking near Richmond VA. If you don’t feel like leaving Richmond for hiking check out Best Trails In Richmond VA For Hiking. I also realize I called this the best hiking near Richmond but didn’t even include pictures of the views from Three Ridges. Shame on me. But if I’m able to find any of mine from the archives or visit it again, I’ll be sure to add them here.