Crabtree Falls and the Priest 9.9 miles to Montebello, 9.3 miles to Tye River, moderate terrain

65 miles from Daleville.

1 mile shuttle for Spy Rock, $7 carpool fee

4.6 mile shuttle for Tye River, $7 carpool fee

Take the I-81 Exit 202/Raphine-Steeles Tavern and head east on VA-606 for 1.5 miles to US-11. Turn left onto US-11 and an immediate right onto VA-56.

A 9.1 mile drive on this narrow, twisting road will bring you across the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and to VA-690 and the Montebello Fish Hatchery sign.

For the Spy Rock ending of this hike, go right on VA-690 past the fish hatchery and leave the shuttle cars in the USFS parking lot and return to VA-56.

The Crabtree Falls Trail parking lot is another 2.9 miles on the right. Outhouses are located adjacent to the parking area.

For the Tye-River ending, continue on VA-56 to the Tye River where the AT comes out to a parking lot. It is a long way down. Then come back to the Crabtree-Falls parking.

We will start in the National Forest Crabtree Falls Parking Lot after paying our parking fee, or using our National Park Senior Pass, and start our 1.7-mile path to follow Crabtree Creek, with scenic overlooks at the five major cascades, which have a total fall of 1,200 feet. The Forest Service's first-rate pathway of graded switchbacks and wooden staircases has many observation decks and ends with an observation deck at the top on the other side of the stream.

Return to the creek, and continue upstream. At 1.8 miles take the right fork. It becomes a woods road at 2.1 miles. At 2.9 miles we come to a parking lot and more outhouses and a dirt road. The road is drivable to the right. We will go left on the road for a half mile. There we will intersect with the AT.

Turn left and up on the AT for a mile to The Priest Shelter and another half mile to the top of The Priest. The summit of The Priest, at 4,063 feet also has excellent views just off to the left. The Priest is the highest point in Nelson County and the focal point of the so-called Religious Range.

For the Tye-River-ending option, continue 4.3 more miles, descending about 3,000 feet, to the shuttle cars at VA-56 and the Tye River.

For the Spy-Rock option, turn around and go 1 miles back to the dirt road. Cross the road following the AT. Spy Rock is 2.9 miles past the road and the cars are about 1/2 mile past Spy Rock. Spy Rock is a granite dome with great, 360 degree, views of the Priest Wilderness area and other surrounding mountains. It requires some rock scrambling to get to the top.

A shorter 8-mile option is to skip the Priest and turn right when first intersecting the AT.