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  1. #1
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Default The Priest Shelter

    The only shelter officially within The Priest Wilderness Area, the Priest Shelter is just south of the 4,000' summit of The Priest. The shelter is located about a tenth of a mile off-trail at a very obvious turn in the AT. There is an open area in front of the shelter that should receive good sun on a sunny day. In October 2002, we had a lot of nice sun for our early morning ascent of The Priest, but it had clouded over by the time we reached the shelter and prepared lunch. Shelter design is similar to the Maupin, Harpers Creek and Seeley-Woodworth shelters. Not sure where the privy is. Water comes a spring behind the shelter that was filled with leaves and pretty stagnant when we were there.

    There was nothing especially attractive about the shelter or its location, although at almost 4,000 feet of elevation it might be cooler in the summer than the next two campsites to the north. I suggest staying at or near Seeley-Woodworth 7 miles to the south, Tye River 5 miles down the mountain to the north, or Harpers Creek about 7 miles north of the shelter. Alternatively, there are several nice campsites just north of the shelter and just off-trail. There is also a very impressive overlook of Pinnacle Ridge just north of the shelter accessed by a short unmarked side trail to the west.
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  2. #2

    Default

    Another great alternative is to camp 4 miles south at Spy Rock. It is a wonderful camping area and has great views. Water needs to be carried in, as there is none there other than the puddles on the rock's top.

    In June of 2003, the water at the Priest Shelter was flowing freely and though there were leaves in the water, it had several clear pools that were great for a water source.

    Bugs were quite bad at the shelter and much better at Spy Rock.
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  3. #3
    Is it raining yet?
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    Default Oh the rain

    Whatever you do, DON"T CAMP IN FRONT OF THE SHELTER IF RAIN THREATENS!

    A guy tried that in June of '04 & ended up doing the backstroke @ 1:00 a.m.

    Nice grassy area where AT meets shelter turnoff at top of hill (less then .1 mile).


    As for Spy Rock, AWESOME!

  4. #4

    Default

    The privy is visible to your left from the shelter opening, about 50 yards away. It had a seat that had metal exposed and was too cold for me to try on a snowy 17 degree morning I spent there a couple Januarys ago.

  5. #5
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    Default dont camp in front of the shelter!

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud
    Whatever you do, DON"T CAMP IN FRONT OF THE SHELTER IF RAIN THREATENS!

    A guy tried that in June of '04 & ended up doing the backstroke @ 1:00 a.m.

    Nice grassy area where AT meets shelter turnoff at top of hill (less then .1 mile).


    As for Spy Rock, AWESOME!
    I think that was me that ended up spending the night with the shelter mice. Yeah, dont pitch in front of the shelter under the low trees the ground tends to puddle up there a bit. I found out after getting home and watching the local weather that the storm had dumped several inches of rain over the nelson county area that night and i brought some of it home with me.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Visited the Priest Shelter for water and a snack 07/16. Nice shelter and plentiful water in the spring behind the shelter. The privy was a little on the nasty side, full of buzzing flies, but I guess that's to be expected with temps in the 90 F range. The shelter itself was nice and clean.

  7. #7
    Registered User SNAKEDOCTOR's Avatar
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    Default

    I was thinking about packing in from the Tye River to the Priest/Spyrock area and points south for a few days. Was wondering if anyone could recommend a reasonably safe place to park my truck in the Tye River area.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Kerosene is right about the pretty campsites just North of the shelter.

    However, I feel compelled to point out that I saw one of the largest rattlers I've ever seen just off the Trail very close to the summit of The Priest.

    If you camp up there, lose the headphones and keep your wits about you.

  9. #9

    Default

    I have not heard of any problems parking at the Tye River parking area but if you are concerned you may want to contact the Dutch Haus in Montebello, VA and see if they might have a place for your car.

  10. #10
    Registered User wilconow's Avatar
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    Default

    I think in the ATC guidebook it says that there's been some vandalisim at the tye river parking lot. we left a car there memorial day weekend and it was fine

    Here's a campsite just north of the Priest.

    http://www.terrapinstats.com/photos/...hp?image_id=99

  11. #11

    Default

    The Dutch Haus can shuttle you nearly up to the top of the trail, they have road access. I used these folks to shuttle that section. The parking area located along Fish Hatchery Road is off the main road but isolated. I haven't heard off any vandalism there. It's a bit of a climb up from Fish Hatchery Road. I think it might be a mile due to private roads.

    I left my car at the Tye River lot with no problems. The road past the lot did get traffic.
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  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wilconow
    I think in the ATC guidebook it says that there's been some vandalisim at the tye river parking lot. we left a car there memorial day weekend and it was fine

    Here's a campsite just north of the Priest.

    http://www.terrapinstats.com/photos/...hp?image_id=99
    I think this is the camping area just south of Harper's Creek Shelter. If so, there is plenty of room here for a group your size. There are many established tent "pads" and a couple of fire rings. The water source is a creek that you have to cross just before you reach this camping area (if you are heading north). I found some cute salamanders in this creek.

    I haven't had any trouble parking at the Tye River lot.

    Have a good trip.
    Some people take the straight and narrow. Others the road less traveled. I just cut through the woods.

  13. #13
    another flippin mile ... dang! frequency's Avatar
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    Default

    Hey - another 2 cents worth - you have some great alternatives here:
    1. the parking lot at Tye river is somewhat exposed but a lot of folks use it so I personally feel it is a great bet with low risk
    2. heading further up on 56, folks are mentioning Dutch Haus - so it must be ok
    3. an alternative is the Crabtree Falls Campground which is excellent for tent camping - keep hoping i can win the lotto and buy them out... the last time I spoke with the owner, he provided shuttle service to the trail
    4. Fish Hatchery - about a mile below the trail on fish hatchery road ... also feel it is quite secure...low risk

  14. #14

    Default The Priest

    Ive hiked the priest on trips where i wanted to build up hiking legs that had atrophied due to city sloth but was always curious if it registered as a memorable tough section for thru-hikers.For Virginia it has to be the toughest section?
    And a note:The Tye River isnt the best place to get water from.Frequent diesel spills and a no-fish consumption ban has been in effect for various parts of that river for years.Expect crypto or giardia as well-it looks ok from that bridge but it is a polluted river.

  15. #15
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane View Post
    Ive hiked the priest on trips where i wanted to build up hiking legs that had atrophied due to city sloth but was always curious if it registered as a memorable tough section for thru-hikers.For Virginia it has to be the toughest section?
    Going NOBO, no. The next section, Three Ridges, would be tougher than that. The climb out of Beuna Vista is steep also.







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  16. #16
    Pusher, GaMe08 dmb658's Avatar
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    Default

    i was up at the preist the other night with at least 30 boy scouts and LOTS of weekenders, i was lucky to get a spot in the shelter!

  17. #17
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    Default

    between the priest and three ridges, whether youre headed north or south one of them is going to be a doozy. pick your poison... go down three ridges and up the priest or down the priest and up three ridges.

  18. #18
    Registered User 1234's Avatar
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    Default

    The privy has a stainless steel toilet and seat, nothing is missing it is just nice and shiny steel. You bet it is cold, so cold it will stop any thing about to take place.

  19. #19
    Flip flop, flip flopping' LASHin' 2000 miler
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 1234 View Post
    The privy has a stainless steel toilet and seat, nothing is missing it is just nice and shiny steel. You bet it is cold, so cold it will stop any thing about to take place.
    Note to self: Design ultralight privy cozy!
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  20. #20
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    Default

    Just there over the weekend with several other soggy section hikers and one through hiker. There was some water in pools near the spring, but very little flow even after a couple of days of steady rain. It's been a dry summer in that part of VA. Little bit mousy in the shelter. No bear pole/box.

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