The smallest of Virginia's Wildernesses, Thunder Ridge sits high on the northwestern slope of the Blue Ridge, separated from James River Face Wilderness by Petites Gap Road (gravel, FR #35). it is bordered on the south and east by the Blue Ridge Parkway. Elevations range from 1,320 feet on the northwest corner to 4,200 feet on Apple Orchard Mountain at the southern tip. Thunder Ridge dominates the center of the area, falling away sharply on the north slope and not as steeply on the south. The vegetation is primarily mixed upland and cove hardwoods.
This wilderness contains five miles of trail including about 3.5 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T., FT #1). Trail information is available on National Geographic-Trails Illustrated Map #789 (Lexington-Blue Ridge Mts).
Thunder Ridge Wilderness is located in Bedford, Botetourt, and Rockbridge Counties, in west central Virginia. It is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts of the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Thunder Ridge Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.