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LM: Saint Mary's Wilderness, 15.5 Miles

We’ll be heading out to St. Mary’s Wilderness for a 15.5 mile hike with 3,110 feet of elevation gain.  We will plan to follow the map and trail as described on Hiking Upward, but from the description the trail may be unpassable in areas so be prepared to improvise some.  Due to wilderness restrictions and small camp sites, the group cannot be more than 10 people.

Plan to meet up at the Vienna North parking lot at 8am before making the approximately three hour drive (near Waynesboro) to the trailhead off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We'll hike down into the valley and do a 5.5 mile out and back hike to St. Mary's Falls, and then back out of the valley where we'll plan on camping near the Green Pond. We'll cover about 10 miles overall on Saturday. Then Sunday we'll hike back out the 5.5 miles or so on a mix of trail and Forest Service roads. We should get in a nice scenic overlook or two on Sunday as well.

In all, it is 15.5 miles, with 3,110 feet of elevation gain. From the description on Hiking Upward, the trail is not blazed, with parts that are not well mountained, so it may be overgrown in places. 

From what I remember from my last trip there are several water crossings with some of them being calf-deep, so please be prepared. This will also offer several great spots for swimming.

Please check out the map and trail descriptions at: http://www.hikingupward.com/GWNF/StMarysWilderness/ along with a nice PDF map that you can print out and take along.

Weather and temperature updates will come as the date approaches.

If you have questions about the hike or your gear, please don’t hesitate to send me a message or post it below.

Print the following:

Trail Map and Description

Driving Directions

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Her Majesty really did a great job despite the little difficulties we ran into! Christian made a great choice in a hiking trail with a great group of people! I have hiked around that area several times but never made it over to the water falls or swimming holes. I’m going to have to revisit that area again after things warm up again. It was fun hiking with everyone but does it really matter what gear some is carrying? Everyone is going to do things their own way.

    September 11, 2013

    • Kevin S.

      I 2nd Jon's comments. I'd also like to apologize and hope there are no hard feelings. It won't happen again. Happy Hiking!

      September 13, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      John, Kevin go take a hike and enjoy it! One of the first rules I learn about backpacking is your equipment should match how comfortable you are in the wilderness. The more equipment you add, the less of a "natural wilderness" experience you will have. The more you add, the less of a natural experience you will have. How comfortable you are is only a question you can answer.

      September 13, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Put your group photo up on Facebook.

    September 10, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Do we have a facebook group page too?

      September 10, 2013

    • Michael M.

      We do. I have been taking some steps to enhance our overall visibility. That is one.

      September 10, 2013

  • Anna

    Fantastic group trip with several amazing swimming hole options and challenging ascents. Her Majesty did a great job of keeping us on track, despite numerous opportunities to have been lead astray as the result of a somewhat outdated map. This was my first experience seeing hunting dogs on the trail, and at that, with them running loose throughout the night and stopping into camp at random. Something to be prepared for next time, I suppose. Finished the trip with an obligatory stop at Devil's Backbone for pumpkin ale's and brunch. We're going to miss you when you leave us, HM!!

    September 10, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Ah yes, those hunting dogs! They have visited my camp several times out in WV.

      September 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was a great spot to get my hiking legs back. The terrain varied, including dirt, mud, rocks, , stream crossings, and thicket. Also, it was good to try out new things. I got to test out my new Sawyer and hiking shoes (only used mids or highs so far). There was a fair amount of water features to keep even an overactive 8 year old ocupado and deep enough for a cold-ass swim.

    However, the directions and available map were a bit too old for the trail not being blazed. It mentioned blowouts that were already rerouted or fixed, and didn't include extra trails making it really difficult to pinpoint where you were. The other thing is that the terrain was a bit over done for the lack of reward. If it went up, it went for a long time. There weren't many places worth taking in the experience. It was more work than pleasure. Overall the trail was good, but I wonder if it would have been better going in the opposite direction, so you end up with awesome stuff at the end?

    September 9, 2013

  • Michael M.

    How did it go? ;)

    September 9, 2013

  • Anna

    HM -- see you at the trailhead!!

    September 6, 2013

  • Tully

    Hi amigos, I was really hoping to go on this trip, but now won't be able to make it as I've been invited to a wedding on Saturday. I'd love to get out with all of you soon. Happy trails!

    Cheers, Tully

    September 5, 2013

  • Merritt

    Is it alright if I meet you all at the trailhead? I'll be driving up from the Hampton Roads area. Fairfax is a little out of the way :)

    September 1, 2013

    • Christine

      yes of course, see you there.

      September 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi everyone. This will be my first hike with the group. It seems like a nice easy hike to meet some cool people! Looking at the agenda, is it fair to say we can expect to spend a lot of time at camp and only a couple of hours hiking? I’m just trying to figure out how much I should carry.

    August 28, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Well 3 cars carrying 9 people should do it, right? If we don't need my car for what ever reason, I'd like to give back to my wife. Though I do like to drive...

      August 31, 2013

    • Christine

      Yes, Jonathan, we should be fine with just he two cars.

      August 31, 2013

  • Christine

    Hi all, I have emerged from the land of no Internet or electricity finally! Although, I am still in Montenegro and using my phone only until I get back to the states on Sunday. I'll give everyone more details then, but we plan on spending a good amount of one at the falls an he swimming hole, as long as the weather cooperates. We will likely be back at the cars wih plenty of time to grab lunch at the tavern on the way home. In the meantime, can everyone let me know if they have a car or need a ride from the metro stop so I can make sure we have enough rides.

    August 30, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Christine. Welcome back to the states! I'm looking forward to meeting everyone next weekend. I have a Toyota Prius. It can hold 4 people including packs if they are small. 3 comfortable.

      August 30, 2013

    • Kevin S.

      Hi all, I have a Honda Element they can take 3 passengers plus gear. It doesn't get the best mileage but it's roomy! I'm coming from Columbia, MD.

      August 31, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm wondering what the skinny is on average night time temps in the area? I'm not from around here, and I'm wondering if I can get away with not lugging my sleeping bag with me. Thanks in advance for any direction.

    August 27, 2013

    • Michael M.

      The GG Mariposa is a common choice with us (see this photo where a struggle is ensuing about its merits versus the ULA Circuit, another common choice ... http://www.meetup.com...­). I love my MLD Exodus (http://www.mountainla...­), but it is rather big for me just now. Have wanted to try something smaller. I had to look up a capillary stove ... but I do love my alcohol stove.

      August 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I dig their designs, but I don't think I can wait that long for a Mountain Laurel to be made. I'm just not patient enough. I have the same problem with Limmer (http://www.limmercust...­) boots. I want a pair of those, but waiting is not one of my strong suits. As for the stove, I have a jetboil, but I want to try something way lighter and would feel better about using it if it's something I made. Here's the one I plan to make tonight: http://youtu.be/fbHHQ...­

      August 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My ride has fallen through for next weekend (wife needs the car). Is there a chance anybody can give new a lift from the metro stop? I can help pay for gas and stuff. Any help would be much appreciated!

    August 28, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Jonathan ... Again ... I'm filling in for Her Majesty until she gets back from Europe (you guys really must call her that). I'm certain that she'll be running a carpool scenario from Vienna. With 7 people (and Anna and Ginger coming on different vectors) and a loop, I bet you only need two cars for the trip. MM

      August 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I saw that, but hadn't made the connection of Christine being the organizer. Apologies for noobish behavior! I spoke to my wife and she won't need the car after all. So now I'm available for car pooling as well.

      August 29, 2013

  • Evan L.

    sorry for the last minute cancel. Orthopedic surgeon has me in a cast. Ugh.

    August 28, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Feel better, Evan! And a week ahead of time is hardly last minute!

      August 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Since I am travelling via 81 south from Audubon, PA I will meet at the trail head. I will arrive between 10:45 - 11:00 AM. Can carpool some extra folks if needed.

    August 28, 2013

    • Michael M.

      That sounds good. I think Christine is still coming back from her trip to Montenegro. She'll get things dialed in as soon as she gets home.

      August 28, 2013

  • Kevin S.

    This LM trip sounds great, I just have to double check my schedule.

    August 15, 2013

7 went

  • Christine
    Veteran Member (Her Majesty ...), Assistant Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Kevin S.
    Veteran Plus Member (C&C) ('16), Assistant Organizer
  • Anna
    Member (Pancakes)
  • Merritt
    Veteran Plus Member (2)(!)('16)
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

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