James River Face Wilderness-Mileposts 639-710

Big Island, Virginia

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3 Reviews
3 out of 5
The 9,000-acre James River Face Wilderness is a rugged and scenic area that clings to the cliffs where the mighty James River breaks through the Blue Ridge. Designated in 1975, Virginia’s first wilderness area lies north of Petites Gap, a major trail access point at Milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thunder Ridge, added in 1984, is a 2,450-acre wilderness just south of Petites Gap. That tract is essentially just the sloping western side of the Blue Ridge below the Parkway, though that description doesn’t do justice to the unique plants that grow there. Together, the James River Face and Thunder Ridge make up a wilderness tract that rises from the deceptive calm of the James River (about 650 feet) to the lofty altitude of Highcock Knob (3,073 feet) and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway

by Randy Johnson (Falcon Guides)

The 9,000-acre James River Face Wilderness is a rugged and scenic area that clings to the cliffs where the mighty James River breaks through the Blue Ridge. Designated in 1975, Virginia’s first wilderness area lies north of Petites Gap, a major trail access point at Milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thunder Ridge, added in 1984, is a 2,450-acre wilderness just south of Petites Gap.

That tract is essentially just the sloping western side of the Blue Ridge below the Parkway, though that description doesn’t do justice to the unique plants that grow there. Together, the James River Face and Thunder Ridge make up a wilderness tract that rises from the deceptive calm of the James River (about 650 feet) to the lofty altitude of Highcock Knob (3,073 feet) and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

© 2017 Randy Johnson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Big Island
Distance: 2.8-12.6 miles
Trail Type: Several options
Skill Level: Easy to Difficult
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: The Blue Ridge Parkway 199 Hemphill Knob Road Asheville, NC 28803-8686 (828) 271-4779 (828) 298-0398
Local Maps: USGS Snowden and Glasgow; Appala- chian Trail Conference: Glenwood–New Castle Ranger Districts, Jefferson National Forest
Driving Directions: Directions to James River Face Wilderness-Mileposts 63.9-71.0

Recent Trail Reviews

2/11/2008
0

02/03/2008 Trail is easy. The shelter at end of trail has a outhouse and table. However the impressive bridge has been washed out and there is hardly any visible remains of it. Well worth the trip.


11/4/2006
0

Good hike, yes it is challenging. Exiting the foot trail at Hell Creek onto the horse trail is poorly marked (look for the orange/blue tape) and confusing. Went a few extra steps until the mistake was realized.


7/1/2006
0

The Sulphur Springs trail is one of my favorite walks in the James River Face Wilderness. The trail runs along an old roadbed and is a nice steady climb to the top of the ridge and travels along the ridge overlooking the river. The views are spectacular and the trail is usually deserted. Caution - the low use makes for an overgrown trail. There are sections where you have to wade through some very lush poison ivy. Also, since this is a ridgetop trail, use caution with regards to thunder storms. The west face of the wilderness is a weather-maker and violent storms are common.



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Apr 2018