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Section 22 - James River (US 501) to Petites Gap (USFS 35) Displayed from North to South

Maintained by:
  Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club http://www.nbatc.org/ b2wheels @ mindspring.com Tye River at VA 56 to Black Horse Gap U.S. 460 at the New River to Va. 611

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Mile
Marker
 
Hiker Rated
Parking Safety
Directions Comments Number of Vehicles  Map   &  
 Weather  
Source
0.0
James River (US 501)
   Poor           Great




There is an AT parking area on the south side of US 501/VA 130 near the intersection with Hercules Road (AKA USFS 36 or VA 812). To the west it is 5.9 miles west to Glasgow. From there it is 4 miles via VA 130 to Natural Bridge Station and 6 miles to I-81 (Exit 175). To the east it is 4 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Via US 501 it is 5.6 miles to Big Island. The marker on the attached map indicates the entrance to the parking area. GPS N37.5970 W79.3913 The street view to the south from this point shows the lot which is a good size (approximately 25 vehicles). It can also be seen on the satellite view. The AT comes close to the southeast corner of the parking lot. When I was there, a fence surrounded the parking area, but it was down in that corner providing easy access to the trail. The northbound AT goes left and soon crosses US 501/VA 130. (See next listing). The southbound trail goes right, passes under the railroad tracks and crosses the Foot Bridge across the James River. The bridge can clearly be seen in the satellite view Alternatively one could walk east along the side of the highway perhaps a hundred yards to the trail crossing. 06/27/19 approx. 25
  1

 

David Cullen
See previous listing for directions to the parking area on US 501/ VA 130. The trail crossing of that highway is approximately 100 yards further east. US 501/ VA!30 at the intersection with Hercules Road (AKA VA 812 of USFS 36) is the southern boundary of Section 21 and the northern boundary of Section 22. The marker on the map attached here is set at that intersection. GPS: N37.59675 W79.38995 The street view from that point to the north shows Hercules Road. The northbound AT (to section 21) follows this for a short distance before going right into the woods. A white blaze can be seen on a tree. The street view to the west shows the beginning of the southbound route to Section 22. The trail follows the road west, then goes left at the end of the guardrail seen in the view. It then passes near the parking area, crosses under railroad tracks and crosses the Foot Bridge across the James River. A portion of the parking area can also be seen in the west view. 06/27/19 0 here but 25 or so at parking lot
  1

 

David Cullen
2.1
Matts Creek Trail
   Poor           Great



 
This is old route of the AT before the James River Foot Bridge was opened. The trail head is just south of Snowden Bridge on US 501. There is a small dirt parking area at the entrance to a now overgrown gated road. This is just north of the sign welcoming people to Bedford County. This area is on the west side of the highway. The trail begins just north of the parking area. The green arrow on the attached map indicates the position of the parking area. The street view shows the dirt lot. I have not hiked this trail but have seen the two ends. It is 2.5 miles from US 501 to the AT just north of Matts Creek Shelter. Coordinates ate the AT intersection are 37.5998 -79.4114 (See https://www.backpacker.com/trips/appalachian-trail-blue-ridge-parkway-to-us-501 )1/29/10 New link added 06/27/19 3-4
 

 

David Cullen
The Matt's Creek Trail is the old route of the AT before the James River Foot Bridge was built. Much of the information about reaching the trailhead in the 3rd edition of the AT Guide to Central Virginia and most other sources is now obsolete. A new highway bridge across the James River has been built further to the east and the old one has been removed. The trailhead is on a closed and abandoned section of the old US 501 route. The following directions should work. From the intersection of US 501 and VA 130 north of the James River, follow US 501 across the new bridge. On the south side go right on the old US 501 route. This ends at a gate in 0.3-.4 miles. The following information was supplied by nanthony @ embrqmail.com of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club.
"I was over the Matts Creek Trail (again, former AT) this spring. Parking is available along the side of the abandoned highway road near the gate. Simply walk around the gate and follow the old road bed (former US 501) until you reach the trailhead for the Matts Creek Trail on your left as you approach. The remains of old wooden steps are visible. The trail is maintained."
Editor's note: The attached Google map was generated using trail coordinates from 2010 when the old route was still open. The marker indicates this point which may be somewhat approximate. GPS: N37.5694 W79.3818 I have not hiked this trail but have seen the two ends. It is 2.5 miles from US 501 to the AT just north of Matts Creek Shelter. Coordinates at the AT intersection are 37.5998 -79.4114 (See https://www.backpacker.com/trips/appalachian-trail-blue-ridge-parkway-to-us-501 ) A good description of the trail, presumably done before the bridge relocation, is given in the following. It formed part of a loop trip. This notes that there was a small parking area (now inaccessible) at the trailhead. This confirms my observations from 2010. http://www.wanderingvirginia.com/2014/03/piney-ridge-trail-and-matts-creek-trail.html 0715/19

  1

  1

David Cullen
4.9
Sulphur Spring Trail (N. Jct)/ Balcony Falls Trail
   Poor           Great



 
To reach the Balcony Falls Trail parking area go south on VA 759 from VA 130 near Natural Bridge Station. In 0.9 miles turn left on VA 782. Beyond the Jellystone Park Campground the paved road makes a sharp right turn. Continue straight ahead onto a gravel road at this point. This is initially still VA 782 but becomes USFS 3093. Go 0.7 miles further to the end of the road which is the trailhead. The marker indicates this point. GPS:N37.6185 W79.4729 On the satellite view a rather large parking area can be seen at the end of the road. Note I have not checked out this trail head nor hiked the trail from it. I have seen the intersection with the AT. This is all "book" information. I also can not speak to current trail conditions. The Balcony Falls Trail starts out on an old road. It climbs for 4.1 miles and eventually reaches another old road. This is the Sulphur Springs Trail. Turn left on the road and go 1.4 miles to meet the AT. GPS at that point: N37.5910 W79.4511. Elevation gain is about 1800 feet. The northbound AT goes left while the southbound goes right. Straight ahead the Sulfur Spring Trail continues eventually recrossing the AT at Mile 7.2.For more information see the links below. The first has a map which can be adjusted to show all the trails in this area. The second describes only the Balcony Falls Trail portion.Note: The distance from a trailhead to the intersection via the AT is actually shorter using the latter. This limits the usefulness of this route using SIDE TRAILS as an access. Links: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=78539&actid=500 https://www.trailheadfinder.com/trail_editor/789#.XRaE43t7mi4 6/28/19 Several
  1

  1

David Cullen
5.4
Gunter Ridge/ Belfast Trails
   Poor           Great




To reach the Belfast Trailhead follow USFS 35 4.2 miles from Petites Gap (Se Mile 9.9), going away from the Blue Ridge Parkway. USFS 35 eventually becomes VA 781. I do not know the condition of this road except that it is gravel. Alternatively, follow VA 759 south for 3.2 miles from VA 130 at Natural Bridge Station. Go left (east) on VA 781 1.5 miles to reach the trailhead. There is a small parking area on the north side of the road with possible additional parking a bit further east beyond the trailhead. The marker indicates the trailhead. GPS: N37.5712 W79.4916 Note I have not checked out this trail head nor hiked the trail from it. I have seen the intersection with the AT. This is all "book" information. I also can not speak to current trail conditions. The Belfast Trail (AKA the Devil's Marbleyard Trail) climbs to the Devil's Marbleyard, an extensive boulder field, in 1.4 miles. This can be seen in the top center region of the satellite view on the map. After another 1.0 mile, the Belfast Trail ends at the intersection with the Gunter Ridge Trail. Go right on the Gunter Ridge Trail for 0.4 miles to reach the AT. Total elevation gain is about 1500 feet. GPS Coordinates at the AT intersection are N37.5859 W79.4551 The northbound AT goes left while the southbound goes right. Note that this route describes SIDE TRAILS. The following links may be useful. The second which describes only the Belfast Trail portion of the route has a picture of the parking area. https://www.hikingupward.com/JNF/DevilsMarbleyard/
https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7025893/belfast-trail 06/29/19
5-8
  1

  1

David Cullen
7.2
Sulphur Spring Trail (S. Jct)/ Trailhead
   Poor           Great



 
To reach the Sulfur Spring Trailhead follow USFS 35 2.6 miles from Petites Gap (Se Mile 9.9), going away from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Alternatively, follow VA 759 south for 3.2 miles from VA 130 at Natural Bridge Station. Go left (east) on VA 781 which becomes USFS 35 for another 3.1 miles. Trail with limited parking is on the left. The location of the trailhead is indicated by the marker on the attached map.GPS: N37.5696 W79.4633 Note I have not checked out this trail head nor hiked the trail from it. I have seen the intersection with the AT. This is all "book" information. I also can not speak to current trail conditions. The Sulfur Spring Trail essentially follows the route on an old road. The Google map has an overlay which shows the route of the trail as far as the intersection with the AT which is labeled 4 Way Trail Intersection on the map. It is 2.9 miles to this intersection. The elevation gain is about 1000 feet .The Sulfur Spring Trail continues, meeting the Piney Ridge Trail in 125 feet and then going 2.3 miles to meet the AT again at Mile 4.9. The following links may be helpful. The first has a map while the second shows the parking at the trailhead and gives a good description of the trail.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=79495&actid=50
http://www.wanderingvirginia.com/2015/02/james-river-face-wilderness-loop-on-at.html 06/29/19

  1

  1

David Cullen
7.2
Sulfur Spring Trail (S. Jct.)/ Piney Ridge Trail
   Poor           Great



 
The Piney Ridge Trailhead is reached by turning west off US 501 onto gravel USFS 54 (AKA Hunt Club Road) about two miles northwest of the Blue Ridge Parkway James River Bridge or 0.8 miles south of the intersection of US 501 and VA 130 at the north end of the new James River Bridge. After 0.6 miles, just beyond Big Island Hunt and Fish Club, bear right uphill about 600 feet along a gravel logging road to limited parking in a grassy area The marker on the attached map indicates the position of the trailhead. GPS:N37.5716 W79.3911 Note I have not checked out this trail head nor hiked the trail from it. I have seen the intersection of the Sulfur Spring Trail with the AT. This is all "book" information. I also can not speak to current trail conditions. The Piney Ridge Trail, a SIDE TRAIL, ascends 1600 feet in 3.5 miles. It ends at the intersection with the Sulfur Springs Trail. Turn left and go 125 feet to meet the AT. The northbound AT goes right while the southbound goes left. This s the same intersection listed above for the Sulfur Springs Trail (Mile 7.2). The following links may be on interest. The first is the official USFS description which has a map. The second one has pictures including one of the parking area. Both reference the old James River Bridge, not the new one. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=78496&actid=50
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=Wandering+Virginia+Piney+Ridge 06/30/19
Several in grassy area
  1

  1

David Cullen
9.9
Petites Gap (USFS 35)
   Poor           Great




Parking area is on north side of USFS 35, 300 feet west of Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 71). Further to the west USFS 35 becomes VA 781 where state maintenance begins. USFS 35 may be gated at the parkway during winter. The location of the parking and trail crossing is indicated by the red marker. GPS: N37.5594 W79.44586 If you use the street view option from the point of the marker labeled Petites Gap Milepost, the west view will show USFS 35. The first photo for the Pictures for this section (23) shows the parking area and trail crossing. At the trail crossing the northbound trail to Section 22 goes north (right if coming from parkway). The southbound rail to Section 23 goes lsouth (left). 11/26/2009 Updated 06/30/19 6
  1

  1

David Cullen

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