This close-to-town weekend circuit hike comes to us via HikingUpward.com. It’s recommended because it’s close (less than 40 miles), it includes a stretch on the Appalachian Trail, and access is off a rare stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway (at Reeds Gap) that’s maintained in winter, so there’s access year-round. From the gap parking area, pick up the AT southbound. Your first camping option comes in just over a mile, at an overlook; continue on the AT and in less than a mile you’ll hit the Maupin Field Shelter, which is about 100 yards from the trail. Soon you’ll start hitting the three ridges in question and great views. At about the 5.3-mile mark is the main camping area and Harpers Creek Shelter. Less than a mile after that you’ll hit the blue-blazed Mau-Har Trail; this will bring you back to the AT and the Maupin Field Shelter and your return to the trailhead.
Campsites are numerous, water isn’t a problem on this trip. Another plus: most of the hard climbing is early in this trip. There is a stout climb near then end, but the finish is a triumphal downhill.
More info here.
Type of hike: circuit
Trailhead: Intersection of VA 664 and the Blue Ridge Parkway
Distance from downtown Charlottesville: 39 miles (45 minutes)
To get there, go here.
GPS: 37.838437, -79.023239
Camping: At least four good campsites along the way.
Reservations? Backcountry permit required, by going here.