Ragged Mountain Loop

  • Highlights: Lake views, wooden statues, wildflowers
  • Distance: 6.8 miles loop
  • Elevation change: 1,045 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Ragged Mountain Natural Area, 1770 Reservoir Road, Charlottesville
  • Website: Charlottesville Parks & Recreation
  • Beer Pairings: Rockfish Brewery—English Brown Ale & New England IPA

The Hike:

The Ragged Mountain Natural Area is a 980-acre forest located in Charlottesville. The highlight of Ragged Mountain is the lake which provides drinking water to Charlottesville. This is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and canoeing. Swimming and dogs are not permitted.

This trail is well marked and well maintained. The upper parking area has portable toilets and a kiosk with trail maps. The Lake Front/Main Loop trail travels around the lake and is marked in blue on the map. Take a photo of the trail map as there are several trail junctions on this hike. Benches are located at each mile on the main loop.

The Lake Front/Main Loop trail can be hiked in either direction. We chose to hike counterclockwise. From the kiosk, turn right and follow the signs to the Lake Front/Main Loop trail. At .25 miles is Mountain Man, the first of four wooden sculptures along the main loop trail. 

Several short spur trails lead down to the lake. At .75 miles is the Bear Statue which also marks the junction with the Upper Trail to the right and the Turtle Peninsula Trail to the left. Continue straight on the Lake Front/Main Loop following the signs. 

The Eagle Statue and Eagle Bridge are at mile 1. A network of dedicated volunteers help to maintain the trails in this park and several Boy Scouts have completed their Eagle Scout Service Projects in the park. Eagle Bridge was built by an Eagle Scout in 2015. The nearby Eagle Statue has fallen victim to the elements and sadly is beginning to fall apart.

Continue on the Main Loop trail climbing up a series of switchbacks. At mile 3 is the final wooden sculpture: the three owls. The next few miles have nice lake views. At mile 5.2 the floating bridge crosses the lake. A steady climb begins as the trail moves away from the lake with some vehicle noise from Interstate 64. The trail crosses over the dam and returns to the parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Rockfish Brewing Co. in Charlottesville is about 15 minutes east of the trailhead. Rockfish is a nano brewery co-located with a garden center. They brew small batches and the tap list changes frequently. The beer is really good, they have a variety of food options, and food trucks visit most weekends. The outdoor patio is pet friendly.

Kathy really liked the New England IPA. This hazy, juicy hop bomb has a smooth mouthfeel with intense fresh hop aroma and flavor without a bracing bitterness. Dry hopped to the max with Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy hops. This hazy IPA has 41 IBUs and 6.8% APV. Pete enjoyed the Brown Dog Ale, a London-style English Brown Ale. It’s a mild brown with toffee and coffee notes.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.