Saint Mary's Trail (Forest Trail #500)

The Saint Mary’s Trail follows the picturesque Saint Mary’s River, a native trout stream in a designated wilderness area. A moderate 4.4-mile out-and-back hike leads to the popular Saint Mary’s waterfall by connecting with the Saint Mary’s Gorge trail (Forest Trail #500B). Portions of the trail are located on old railroad grades and mining roads that follow the stream into the gorge. There are several deep pools in the stream along the route, including at the base of the falls. Be prepared to get your feet wet. There are five stream crossings to reach the falls. Wear sturdy boots for the rocky trail which travels through a gorge. The entire hike is within the Saint Mary’s Wilderness Area.

At a Glance

Open Season: Trail is open all year
Restrictions: When recreating on Forest Service Lands, follow the Forest Rules for Visitors and Forest Supervisor’s Orders
Campfires are prohibited from the parking lot to the falls for 150 feet on either side of the trail.
Camping is prohibited within 500 feet of the parking lot and within 500 feet of the Saint Mary's waterfall. 
Wilderness Regulations apply at this recreation area. Group size is limited to 10 people and mechanized equipment, including bicycles, is not permitted.
All visitors should follow  Leave No Trace guidelines.   
Closest Towns: Lexington is approximately 30 minutes southwest and Staunton is approximately 30 minutes north of the trailhead.  The trailhead is in Augusta County.
Water: Drinking water is not provided. All water taken from natural sources should be purified before use.
Restroom: Restrooms are not available. Leave No Trace when disposing of human waste.
Operated By: Glenwood and Pedlar Ranger District
Information Center: Glenwood and Pedlar Ranger District, 27 Ranger Lane Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579 (540) 291-2188 Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 - 12:00 and 12:30 - 4:30

General Information

General Notes:

Wilderness trails are not marked with blazes

  • Trail Length: 2.2 miles one-way
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy-moderate
  • Connecting Trails: Mine Bank Creek (FT #500C); Saint Mary’s Gorge trail (Forest Trail #500B)
  • Trail Access Points: Saint Mary’s Trailhead at the end of Saint Mary’s Road (Forest Road 41) is the main access point. The trail can also be accessed via the Mine Bank Creek Trail (FT #500c) at the trailhead along the Blue Ridge Parkway near milemarker 23.
  • Trail Map: It is recommended that all trail users always carry a reliable map. Saint Mary's Trail (Forest Trail #500) is shown on the Interactive Visitor Map and the National Geographic Trail Map #789 (Lexington/Blue Ridge Mountains). Maps may be purchased at some local District Ranger Stations, at outdoor retail locations or by visiting the National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated website


From I-81: Take Exit 205 (Raphine/Steeles Tavern Exit) onto VA 606. Follow VA 606 to Route 11, and turn left (north) onto Route 11. Turn right almost immediately onto Route 56 East toward Vesuvius. After crossing the South River Bridge, turn left onto SR 608. Stay on SR 608 until it takes a 90 degree turn and passes under a railroad trestle. Turn right onto Saint Mary’s Road (Forest Road 41). Follow Forest Road 41 to St. Mary’s trailhead at end of road.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


River and Stream Fishing

For fishing regulations and passes visit the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources page.

Day Hiking

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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  Elevation : 
2000 feet - 1700 feet