Price / Patterson Mountains Middle Cut Loop

Basics: Length — 12.7 miles; Difficulty — Strenuous; Carpool — 15 miles, so $1.50 per rider; What to Bring — Basic hiking gear, extra socks / shoe protectors for creek fords, lunch, money (or car) for the carpool; Highlights — several good winter views, pretty creek valleys, a fun challenge.

Hike Details: This is a toned-down, yet still quite strenuous version of the hike I did last year.  The hike features a lot of elevation change in an area that was deemed too rugged for wilderness designation.

The hike starts with a huffer of a climb out of the gap between Broad Run and Price Mountains, but stays difficult even after gaining the crest of Price Mountain as it traces the spine of the rugged ridge.  After about 3.7 miles, we’ll turn onto the Kelly Trail, descend to and ford Patterson Creek (hence the need for extra socks), then bounce up to Patterson Mountain on the Tucker Trail, another stringent climb.

The hike continues with a roll along Patterson Mountain, eventually crashing off of the ridge over steep and badly eroded trail as the ridge dies to the south.  We will cross Little Patterson Creek and then follow an old forest service road for a short way.  As a twist different from last year, we’ll thread our way through small hollows (I call them the slots) to the end of the Sulphur Ridge Trail and Old Wagon Road.  We end with a modest, steady climb back to the gap of Price Mountain with a few more creek fords as we go.  I have cut this back a lot from last year, but it is still far more intense than your average Appalachian Trail segment.