The Spy Rock Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is a nice, short trail leading up to a bare, rocky summit offering views that are nothing short of phenomenal.
While the hike itself is uneventful to say the least, it is the views that make it absolutely worth it. The Spy Rock Trail climbs a well-maintained fire road for about a mile (1.6 kilometers) before it bangs a left at the intersection with the Appalachian Trail, which it follows for 0.5 miles (800 meters) until it arrives at an area that’s perfect for camping. That flat area consists of beautiful grass, which almost looks like it gets mowed regularly, and is dotted with the clear circular remains of campfires.
While the Appalachian Trail continues on past this unofficial campsite, a clear sign indicates that Spy Rock lies to the right. It is no more than 0.1 miles (160 meters) to the top of Spy Rock from that camping area, but it’s definitely a steep last stretch. There is no clear path to the top of Spy Rock, which is basically a huge rocky dome, so hikers will have to rely on their rock scrambling skills and the traction and grip of their hiking footwear.
As I stated above, the views from the top of Spy Rock are awe-inspiring—360-degree views take in a stunning part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and a few beautiful valleys. Because of its shortness and those panoramic views, the Spy Rock Trail would make for an amazing hike during sunrise or sunset.
Spy Rock Trail Photos
Spy Rock Trail Details
Length: 3.2 miles (5.2 kilometers) roundtrip.
Hike duration: 45 minutes up, 40 minutes down.
Outing duration: 1 hour 45 minutes.
Markings: Blue line until it intersects the Appalachian Trail, which is marked with a white blaze.
Trailhead location: Behind the Montebello Fish Hatchery on Route 690, off Crabtree Falls Highway (Route 56), a few miles south of the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway.