Hike to Spy Rock

My friend Rebecca was in town for a few days and she wanted to spend as much time as possible in the mountains.

We decided to hike up to Spy Rock first.  She had walked right past the overlook without stopping to check it out on her 2005 AT thru hike. I had done the same in 2003, but I had been back several times since.

We parked in the parking area just past the fish hatchery.

IMG_20140321_124043_542It had snowed earlier in the week, and there were still patches of snow along the side of Spy Rock Road as we started climbing.

IMG_20140321_105117_993The road became more and more snow-covered as we climbed higher.

IMG_20140321_110007_663After about a mile, Spy Rock Road intersects with the Appalachian Trail.

IMG_20140321_111412_938We turned left and headed north on the AT for about a 1/2 mile to reach Spy Rock.

There is a large, grassy field with several fire pits along the side trail to the rocks. It’s a great (and popular!) camping spot.

The rock scramble up to Spy Rock was a little more complicated in the snow and ice, but we made it.

IMG_20140321_112937_726Rebecca carefully picked up one of the frozen ice discs that had formed in the little pools in the rocks and launched it in the air like a Frisbee. I probably wouldn’t have thought to do this on my own, but once I saw her doing it, I had to try too. It was fun and oddly satisfying to watch them shatter like glass as they hit the rock.

It was cold and windy, but we found a sheltered spot and enjoyed the amazing views and Rebecca shared her Starbucks chocolate chip cookie with me.

IMG_20140321_113355_213It definitely still looked like winter up there.

On the way back to Charlottesville, we took a detour onto Skyline drive for another short hike on the Appalachian Trail to check out the new reroute near Beagle Gap.

Total Spy Rock Hike Distance:
~3 miles

Directions from Charlottesville:
(total driving time is just under an hour)
Take 29 South out of town.
A few miles past the town of Lovingston, turn right onto Tye Brook Hwy (Va-56)
Stay on Va-56 (for approximately 17-18 miles).
There are a few turns. Follow signs to Crabtree Falls & Fish Hatchery.
You will pass Crabtree Falls and the road will get windy and steep.
Turn left onto Fish Hatchery Lane
Turn left into the parking lot pictured above.

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About healthyincville

Nemophilist Trail runner Introvert Animal-loving vegetarian * My ideal city would be car-free. I love my cats.
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7 Responses to Hike to Spy Rock

  1. It looks and sounds so peaceful and so,so, beautiful!

  2. Meagan says:

    Such a beautiful view! I love when the snow has melted, but the mountains are still covered.

  3. Have you read humorist Bill Bryson’s “Into the Wilderness”? It’s about his attempt to hike through the AT and is hilarious while being informational.

  4. How the the heck did I call it “Into the Wilderness?” I own a copy of the book for Pete’s sake!!

  5. Mike Yankovich says:

    I’ve been hiking up to Spy Rock for over thirty years (I have a vacation cabin in the area). You will be on private road/property most of the way, there are multiple drive ways and trails on the way up that can be confusing (especially at night) so follow the blue blazes all the way to the gap and head north (left) on the AT trail (white blazes). There are no camping sites until you get to the National forest – red blazes and bands around trees mark NF boundary. If you are planning on a weekend hike, expect the AT parking lot at Montebello to fill up fast. If you block gates/roads/driveways, your car may not be there when you get back (overflow parking is below the fish hatchery). There are two alternate routes to Spy Rock from Meadows lane road. Meadows lane road is a state maintained gravel road off Route 56 that goes to a parking lot at the top of Crabtree falls trail (called Crabtree meadows). Most cars can travel on this road in normal weather. These alternate hiking routes are slightly longer in distance but not as difficult to hike (less elevation change). They are both on National forest property so camping is allowed everywhere (follow NF camping rules). If you are going to camp or want a more relaxing, beautiful, less crowded hike then this is a better option: Take Meadows lane towards Crabtree meadows, at about 3.2 miles, you will see a 4WD dirt road heading off to the right and a bunch of car camping sites. Hike up this dirt road past a gate until the road crosses the AT trail, head south (right) on the AT trail towards Spy Rock. The second (longer hike) option would be to continue to Crabtree meadows parking area (3.8 miles), there is a public bathroom/outhouse at this parking lot. Park here and hike uphill on Meadows lane road until it crosses the AT trail and head south (right) towards Spy Rock. E-mail me if you have questions…

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