Huckleberry Ridge Loop
9.0 miles, challenging terrain, Vertical rise: 2,280 feet
65 miles from Orange Market, $7 carpool fee
This is a good hike for dry fall weather as there are more
than a dozen stream crossings. It would
also be good to clip as you go as this trail gets little to no
maintenance. Clipping may be easier
than climbing through or under.
Driving: take 1-81 Exit 118, US 460 west for 28.0 miles
through Pembroke. Turn right onto VA 635/Big Stony Creek Rd, the last
right before the New River, for 13.5 miles (signs include White Rpcks and
Riverview Baptist Church. Turn left
onto FDR 772/Glen Alton Ln. (VA-635 & 772/Glen Alton Ln, Ripplemead, VA
24150.) Cross the bridge, keep to the
left on the road signed as leading to Kelly Flats, then take the right fork and
immediately park in the small space on the left.
Walk back the few feet to the intersection, turn right, pass
through the gate, and begin to follow the route of Kelly Flats Rd through
wildlife clearings and pine plantations.
At 1.9 miles, the wildlife clearings come to an end, we continue
straight into the woods, not on the grassy road to the right. At 2.1 miles turn
right onto a grassy route that may be marked only by fading yellow blazes.
Cross Dismal Creek at 2.9 miles, 3.0 miles,
and again 200 feet later and again at 3.6 miles.
Just when it looks like the trail comes to a dead end in a mass
of gnarled rhododendron bushes, cross the creek and find the faint pathway
continuing upstream. Cross Dismal Branch again at 3.9, 4.0, and 4.3 miles.
Swing right past a campsite. Crest
Huckleberry Ridge at 4.7 miles, and cross Dixon Branch at 5.0 miles and again
150 feet later and at 5.2 miles. Cross
a creek at 5.4 miles and another with a campsite beneath the shade of hemlocks
just 200 feet later. (Some of the
hemlocks here are more than 250 years old.)
Cross the creek seven more times within the next three-quarters
mile. 7.0 miles, do not ford North
Branch. Turn left, cross a smaller
stream, and turn right at a campsite to a footbridge.
Ford the stream for the last time at 7.8 miles. Then ascend to
the right and drop back to the stream.
At 8.0 miles, turn right from path for a steep, switchbacked ascent.
Cross the ridgeline at 8.2 miles and turn left onto Forest Service road at 8.6
miles, ending at the cars at 9.0 miles.