Whetstone Ridge Trail (Forest Trail #523)

Area Status: Open

The Whetstone Ridge Trail is one of the longest trails on the Glenwood and Pedlar Ranger Districts, running end-to-end with the northern trailhead on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near milepost 29 and the southern trailhead on Irish Creek Road (State Route 603).   This trail runs along Whetstone Ridge near Adams Peak and along South Mountain Ridge, following an old tramway from former logging operations.  Whetstone Ridge Trail is notable for views of Three Ridges Wilderness, Priest Wilderness, and Adams Peak.

Trail Open To:

Trail HikingBicycle RidingHorse Riding

At a Glance

Fees: No Fee
Open Season: Open year round
  • Trail is open to:  Hiking, Bicycling, Horse Riding. 
  • Bicycles are prohibited on National Park Service land.  Please walk your bicycles to the U.S. Forest Service boundary approximately 0.25 miles down the trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The U.S. Forest Service boundary is clearly marked.   
  • Trail is closed to all motorized vehicles.
Closest Towns: Buena Vista, VA - ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY
Water: No drinking water available. All water taken from natural sources should be purified before use.
Restroom: Flush Toilets at Blue Ridge Parkway Trailhead Office During National Park Service Operating Season.
Operated By: Glenwood & Pedlar Ranger Districts: 540-291-2188
Information Center: Trail is located on National Geographic/Trails Illustrated Map #789.  It is recommended that all trail users carry a reliable map at all times.  Maps may be purchased at some local District Ranger Stations, at outdoor retail locations or by visiting the National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated website.

General Information

General Notes:
  • Trail Length:  11.3 miles
  • Blazes:  Blue
  • Trail Difficulty:  Moderate
  • Connecting Trails:  None
  • Elevation:  Elevation ranges from 1170 to 3000 feet
  • Trail Access Points (Approximate LAT/LONG):
    • Blue Ridge Parkway at MP #29:  LAT 37.87 LONG -79.15
    • Irish Creek Trailhead:  LAT 37.80 LONG -79.28
    • Lat/Long Conversion Table
  • Trail Etiquette:  Trail etiquette for multiple use trails calls for horses to have the right-of-way.  Hikers should yield to horses.  Bicyclists should yield to horses and hikers.  Horse riders are responsible for the control of their horse at all times.


Blue Ridge Parkway Trailhead:  On the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 29.  Park in the parking area for the Whetstone Ridge NPS offices and the trail begins a short distance to the right from the office building.  Trail starts on the left side of the road midway between the office building and the NPS housing quarters.  During the NPS operating season, restrooms are available outside the office building.

Irish Creek Trailhead:  From I-81, take exit 188 and continue into Buena Vista on Route 60E.  At the first stoplight, continue straight on Route 60E to intersection with Catalpa Avenue.  Turn left onto Catalpa Avenue and continue.  Road will become Longhollow Road.  Continue on Longhollow Road (State Route 631) until you come to South River Market.  At South River Market take a right onto South River Road (State Route 608) and continue north to the intersection with Irish Creek Road (State Route 603).  Turn right onto Irish Creek Road and continue approximately 2 miles to the trailhead parking area on the left. 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
11.3 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
1170 feet - 3000 feet