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Northern Blue Ridge

Range TypeGeographically-defined sub-range
Highest PointApple Orchard Mountain (4225 ft/1288 m)
CountriesUnited States
States/ProvincesVirginia (57%), Maryland (24%), Pennsylvania (16%), West Virginia (2%)
(numbers are approximate percentage of range area)
Area13,678 sq mi / 35,426 sq km
Area may include lowland areas
Extent225 mi / 363 km North-South
215 mi / 346 km East-West
Center Lat/Long38° 39' N; 78° 4' W
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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The Northern Blue Ridge is the simple, straightforward part of the massive Blue Ridge Mountain complex. Basically, it is just one, long mountain ridge stretching from Dillsburg, PA south to Roanoke, VA. There are complexities, of course, but in general this range is as close to being the ideal single simple chain of mountains as you will find. Indeed, the Northern Blue Ridge it is only crossed twice by rivers in its entire 300 mile length, at the impressive gorges of the Potomac and the James Rivers.

The centerpiece of this stretch of mountains is Shenandoah National Park. North of the park is the low far northern Blue Ridge, and, north of the Potomac River, even lower but bigger South Mountain in Maryland and Pennsylvania. South of the park is a higher, wilder, and somewhat unknown 115 mile piece of the Blue Ridge.

The Appalachian Trail follows essentially the entire 300 mile ridge, on or near the crest the whole way, and the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and its continuation, the Blue Ridge Parkway to the south, parallel the A.T. for over 200 miles. This enables car tourists to drive in a day what takes most though-hikers well over a week, even allowing for frequent stops at turnouts to admire views.

Map of Northern Blue Ridge
Click on red triangle icons for links to other ranges.


Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.
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Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the Northern Blue Ridge.
Blue Ridge MountainsLevel 3 (Parent)
         Northern Blue RidgeLevel 4
                 South Mountain-CatoctinLevel 5 (Child)
                 Northern Virginia Blue RidgeLevel 5 (Child)
                 Shenandoah-North SectionLevel 5 (Child)
                 Shenandoah-Middle SectionLevel 5 (Child)
                 Shenandoah-South SectionLevel 5 (Child)
                 South Central Virginia Blue RidgeLevel 5 (Child)
                 Peaks of Otter-Apple Orchard AreaLevel 5 (Child)
         Southern Blue Ridge FrontLevel 4 (Sibling)
         Great Smoky MountainsLevel 4 (Sibling)
         Western Blue Ridge RangesLevel 4 (Sibling)
         Central Blue Ridge RangesLevel 4 (Sibling)



Major Peaks of the Northern Blue Ridge

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NameftmRange5
1.Apple Orchard Mountain42251288Peaks of Otter-Apple Orchard Area
2.Rocky Mountain40721241South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
3.The Priest40631238South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
4.Hawksbill40501234Shenandoah-Middle Section
5.Mount Pleasant4040+1231+South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
6.Bald Knob4040+1231+South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
7.Maintop Mountain4040+1231+South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
8.Elk Pond Mountain40341230South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
9.Pompey Mountain40321229South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
10.Stony Man40111223Shenandoah-Middle Section
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NameftmRange5
1.Apple Orchard Mountain42251288Peaks of Otter-Apple Orchard Area
2.Rocky Mountain40721241South Central Virginia Blue Ridge
3.Hawksbill40501234Shenandoah-Middle Section
4.Hightop Mountain35871093Shenandoah-South Section
5.Hogback Mountain34741059Shenandoah-North Section
6.High Knob2388728Northern Virginia Blue Ridge
7.Quirauk Mountain2140+652+South Mountain-Catoctin



Photos of Peaks in the Northern Blue Ridge

The Priest
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The Priest, with it's peak shrouded in clouds (2015-04-07). Photo by Roland Ryan.
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Hawksbill
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Hawksbill is the peak on the left side of the photo, taken from the Crescent Rock Overlook on Skyline Drive (2015-06-18). Photo by Jared Evans.
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Little Priest
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The Little Priest, it's peak just below the clouds (2015-04-07). Photo by Roland Ryan.
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Trayfoot Mountain
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Trayfoot Mountain seen through the rocks near the summit of Blackrock (2015-06-29). Photo by Jared Evans.
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Old Rag Mountain
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Old Rag Mountain partially covered in clouds, taken from the northwest on Skyline Drive (2015-04-03). Photo by Chris Calabrese.
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Blackrock
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Trayfoot Mountain seen through the rocks near the summit of Blackrock (2015-06-29). Photo by Jared Evans.
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Blue Ridge-Paris Benchmark
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Paris Reset (2015-05-04). Photo by Jean André Laverdure.
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Neersville Benchmark
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Located just off the trail, on one of the rocks along the top of the ridge line. (2015-05-24). Photo by Jared Evans.
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Maryland Heights
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Although it is well below the summit, this is the view from Maryland Heights that most people come for. The Shenandoah meeting the Potomac, Harper's Ferry and Loudoun Heights on the left side of the photograph (2015-06-09). Photo by Jared Evans.
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Loudoun Heights
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Although it is well below the summit, this is the view from Maryland Heights that most people come for. The Shenandoah meeting the Potomac, Harper's Ferry and Loudoun Heights on the left side of the photograph (2015-06-09). Photo by Jared Evans.
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