Ascent of The Priest on 2017-07-24

Climber: Mike Stinson

Others in Party:Cassidy Stinson
Date:Monday, July 24, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:The Priest
    Elevation:4063 ft / 1238 m

Ascent Trip Report

The summit of The Priest can be reached from east or west using the Appalachian Trail (AT). For this ascent we chose the shorter approach from the west. We took state route 826 from VA 56 to the Crabtree Meadows parking lot at the south (upstream) end of Crabtree Falls Trail, along Crabtree Creek. The parking lot is 3.7 miles from the highway. The beginning of the road has a sign advising that only 4WD vehicles should proceed, but with careful driving I was able to make it in a Chevy Cruze. I also saw a Honda Civic along the way, apparently doing fine. From the parking lot, an uphill walk along the continuation of the road takes one to a junction with the Appalachian Trail. Turn left here (heading trail north, but in reality more southeast and east) and follow the AT to the top of The Priest, passing a short spur trail to an AT shelter along the way. The elevation gain taking this route is a little over 1000 feet, whereas the approach from the east (heading south of the AT from VA 56 near the Tye River) results in an elevation gain of over 3000 feet. As others have noted, a few different rock outcrops vie for recognition as the actual summit; we went to the top of four different contenders. On the north (trail west) side of the AT shortly before reaching the summit (on our route), a short trail leads to a rock outcrop with great views of this part of the Blue Ridge. I've included "Bushwhack" as one of the Route Aspects here, but the only bushwhacking involved is a few feet to and from the potential summit outcrops, which are slightly off the trail.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1053 ft / 320 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:SR 826, Appalachian Trail, west slopes
    Trailhead:Crabtree Meadows parking area  3010 ft / 917 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
warm to hot, but not as hot and humid as recent days
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 5 Minutes

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