Spy Rock

  • Highlights: Rocky summit, panoramic views, fall foliage, Appalachian Trail
  • Distance:  5.8 mile out and back
  • Elevation change:  1,200 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: State Route 828 (Meadows Lane) near Tyro, Virginia
  • Website: AllTrails and US Forest Service
  • Beer Pairings: Seven Sisters Brewery, Mary old ale & Maggie imperial IPA

The Hike:

In the old days (pre-2020) getting to the trailhead for this hike was pretty simple: The Montebello Fish Hatchery parking lot provided easy access to the trail (and the hike was shorter). However, in 2020 the Forest Service closed the Fish Hatchery parking area. Now hikers must navigate Meadows Lane, route 828, a very steep, rutted, and narrow dirt road to reach the trailhead. A 4-wheel drive is necessary for this back-road journey. Our Subaru Outback had no trouble on this road, but a traditional 2 wheel drive, low-clearance car should not attempt this road. See the link above for more information.

We like to say that the journey is part of the adventure. With the new trailhead location for this hike, that phrase is very appropriate. Meadows Road is called a state route as Virginia dept. of Transportation “maintains” it. However, it is a narrow, rutted, dirt road with several stream crossings. It was fun to drive in our Subaru and fortunately we didn’t encounter any vehicles coming the other direction as this is a one-lane road. We parked at a camping area exactly 3.1 miles in from route 56.

We then began our hike passing through a gate onto a fire road, Forest Service Road 596 (Cash Hollow Road). There are several Forest Service camp sites here. Follow the fire road for .5 miles to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail. Turn right onto the AT and follow the white blazes. This section of the AT has some great views to the south and in August the wildflowers were amazing.

Follow the AT for 2.1 miles to the intersection with Spy Rock Trail on the left. Follow this connector trail to the rocky Summit of Spy Rock. We had been to several bald mountain summits with grassy meadows providing fantastic views. Spy Rock is not a grassy summit. The rock outcroppings cover the summit, yet the panoramic views rival those of the grassy balds. The summit is a great place for lunch or a snack. Retrace your steps back to your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

We spent the night in Wytheville on a long weekend of hiking in southwest Virginia. We had driven past many time but had never spent the night here. We had heard good things about Seven Sisters Brewery and decided to check them out. The brewery takes its name from the Seven Sisters trail on Little Walker Mountain near Wytheville. Mary is an Old Ale, brewed in the traditional English style with  malt and hops. The East Kent Golding Hops and the malt provide a subtle tone of toffee and caramel. It reminded us of some of our favorite beers from England. Maggie is an imperial IPA and Kathy really likes imperial IPAs. Maggie was a hop lovers dream with 77 IBUs. It was also very high in alcohol at 9.2%.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.