SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 2001

Prayers Answered In Virginia's Priest Wilderness

In Virginia, a miracle occurs and hikers get some new wilderness, thanks to The Priest.

by: Eric Seaborg

PAGE 1 2

It takes quite a jolt to excite residents of Washington, DC. Front-page scandals? Yesterday's news. Political intrigue? Comes with the territory. But when two brand-new federal wilderness areas just a couple of hours' drive from the Capitol are designated? Now that's something to get excited about.

In November 2000, Priest and Three Ridges Wildernesses received official designation from Congress. Of the two areas, my favorite for a weekend trek is the slightly larger 6,000-acre Priest Wilderness. The Priest, the area's namesake mountain, joins The Cardinal and The Friar to form what's known locally as the Religious Range. The Priest also anchors the northern end of a stretch of high country where the Appalachian Trail threads for about 20 miles among eight 4,000-footers. At the southern end is Mt. Pleasant National Scenic Area, dominated by Cole Mountain, a classic southern Appalachian bald with a 360-degree view.

In late spring, I ascended along a stream and past rhododendron and mountain laurel in full bloom. Twisted roots clung to boulders, and sinewy branches held purple blossoms suspended over beautiful reflecting pools. The scene reminded me of the wild-yet-harmonious perfection of Japanese gardens.

Both stream and blooming shrubs faded as I climbed higher, gaining a quad-burning 3,000 feet in just 5 miles. The leaves on the trees, lush and green at the bottom of the mountain, shrank to mere buds on the ridge's trees, as if the trees up high were only now sensing spring's arrival.

At the top of The Priest, I pitched my tent near a rocky cliff where I could watch the sun set in a blaze of orange and gold. The Blue Ridge generally forms a thin chain of peaks that tower over farms, fields, and towns, but from this perch, I gazed out on nothing but a sea of mountains. I watched in silence as the stars appeared and the wilderness grew as quiet as a church.


PAGE 1 2


Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

wwright31
Oct 15, 2012

Great area. At age 82,and a long time resident of the area, I often hike here and never tire of the marvelous views.

John Miller
Oct 12, 2010

Great area to explore the AT. Montebello campground a short distance from Spy Rock has excellent service and campsites and showers. We hike there every year. We hiked this section starting at Spy Rock (state fish hatchery) to Tye River in one day, then to Maupin Field shelter over 3 ridges on day two, then on over Humpback Rocks to the Paul C Wolfe shelter. From there it was a short couple mile hike the next morning to I64 at Rockfish Gap to be picked up. Great scenery, great hike!!

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Dagnabbit: looks like my May Gila Wilderness trip
Posted On: Apr 22, 2014
Submitted By: cweston
Trailhead Register
Trophy Deer Industry
Posted On: Apr 22, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions