The Priest and Three Ridges

This run is regarded by many as the ultimate hill workout for big western 100s like Wasatch or Hardrock. Elevations range from 930 feet at the trailhead along the Tye River to 4,063 feet at the Priest’s summit. The run consists of a 14 mile loop of the Appalachian Trail and Mau-Har Trail, which takes you up and over Three Ridges. This is followed by a 9 mile out-and-back up the Priest, whose ascent gains a quad-burning 3,000 feet in just 4 miles. Climbs like this are rare indeed in Virginia.

  • 22.5 miles
Running time
  • 4–8 hours
Total ascent/descent
  • 7,540 feet
    340 feet/mile


From the trailhead off of Route 56, take the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT) north across the road and across the Tye River, and begin the ascent up Three Ridges. In 2.0 miles, come to the intersection with the Mau-Har Trail (you will return on this trail). Stay on the AT, and enjoy several spectacular views of the Priest before reaching the summit of Three Ridges (3,790 feet) at mile 5.9. Continue on the AT for 2.8 miles, descending to the Mau-Har Trail near Maupin Field Shelter. Take a left onto the blue-blazed Mau-Har Trail for 3.3 miles before intersecting the AT. Take a right on the white-blazed AT and descend 2.0 miles back to your car. This first loop is 14 miles.

The finale is the 3,000 foot ascent of the Priest. Take the white-blazed AT south and climb for the next 4.0 miles before reaching the summit plateau. The turnaround is the turnoff to Priest Shelter.


Last updated June 16, 2020

What you do is up to you, but you shouldn't rely on these directions alone; they are often not specific enough to navigate by, and may be incorrect or out of date. Review a map beforehand and carry it with you. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not count on having cell phone service while on the run. The VHTRC is not responsible for your welfare on any of these runs. If you go on one of these runs and get lost, run out of water, get injured, mauled by a bear, or die, or if anything else goes wrong, it's your fault; not ours. You assume all risks here and the VHTRC assumes none at all. Legal issues aside, some of these runs are more remote than others and the VHTRC is not suggesting that you do any of these runs, unless you are prepared to accept full responsibility for yourself.