The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I was able to knock out a decent trail run on Three Ridges 30 miles south of Charlottesville. Yes, running is still on the back burner, but I had the day off, the sun was shining bright and the mountains were calling my name. And yes I am really late on posting this but I have been working on another article that I will be posting here shortly.
Three Ridges is an amazing section on the Appalachian Trail and is commonly hiked as a ‘lollipop’ loop, using the Mau-Har Trail to connect you back to whichever side of the Appalachian Trail you started on, totaling over 14 miles.
You can chose to start going north on the Appalachian Trail by parking at the Priest parking lot near Montebello fish hatchery and jump right into a tough climb going up Three Ridges.
Or option 2, you can start going south from Reeds Gap and avoid the crazy climbs until later in the run, then fly down Three Ridges. Mau-Har Trail is used as a shortcut/connecting trail and follows a winding creek. It can be pretty tough to run though at times with a lot of rocks and creek crossings, but still enjoyable
I got a late start, after sleeping in a bit, and got to the trailhead around 11am. I chose to start at the South end, since I need to start building up my hill climbing skills. I did a good amount of hiking up Three Ridges, stopping a few times along the way to get some pictures in and maybe grab a snack. There were a few points where you feel like you have reached the top, but be warned, if you go another 50 feet the next summit reveals itself.
The 3rd big climb is the toughest but offers the most rewarding views afterwards as you can see your whole ascent and each point that you thought was the summit. The huge downhill’s don’t start much further after that and can be rocky at times but still runnable.
The Appalachian Trail levels out some at this point before going slightly downhill and taking you to the Mau-Har Trail entrance/Harpers Creek Shelter. Getting in and out of Mau-Har Trail is pretty steep, and I had to walk a couple times as the down grades and turns were so steep.
After the run down, it levels out at a creek bed, and can be a fun run, but at this time I was beat. So I decided on hiking the rest of Mau-Har Trail, enjoying the views and apparently zoning out since I missed a turn and got sidetracked for 30 minutes.
I should’ve known a turn was nearby as I have done this trail run a few times before, but this time around I missed it and before long I was sliding down a steep hill on my butt thinking the trail had been covered up with leaves from the fall. But alas I came to my senses, climbed back up and backtracked until I found the sign stating I had followed the waterfall path. Excited to be back on trail I totally forgot how much the climb out of Mau-Har was going to suck, but I was quickly reminded. Once I got out, it was a 2-mile run mostly downhill on easy terrain back the car.
Before going home I decided to add a pit stop in Waynesboro and ate at my favorite chinese buffet, Ming Garden. This place is a common stopping point for thru hikers and their food/selection of food is amazing. I ate to enough to be full, but not enough to put me to sleep on the way home.
I might make Three Ridges one my main training grounds for Masochist next year.
What are some of your favorite local hiking/trail running spots? Any good Chinese buffets nearby?