Last Updated on October 19, 2021
I’d been eager to hike the Jack Albright Loop just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Nellysford for some time. Rumor had it, remains of a plane crash could be found steps off the trail.
I was so in. Unfortunately, little is known about the crash of a small plane on the side of rugged Dobie Mountain. One blog says the crash took place in the 1980’s.
Another more recent blog indicated that the crash of this plane – a Beechcraft Bonanza – may have taken place in the 1950’s or 1960’s.
Hiking Upward goes on to note that a Mr. Henri Weems of Nellysford shared that this Beechcraft Bonanza crashed in 1963 or 1964. No flight plan was filed.
Speculation abounds that more than a few plane crashes occurred in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the mid-20th century due to less advanced air navigation aids.
Interestingly, remains of a military plane are said to be located on neighboring Humpback Mountain. This single-engine plane was lost in 1964.
Known by locals in Nelson County as “The Lost Plane Crash,” the remains were discovered (or re-discovered) in 2012 by the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club.
This hike clocks in at around 3.8 miles. I’m not exactly sure the mileage since a friend and I missed the wreckage in the George Washington National Forest by .5-mile.
Fortunately, we found the short, unmarked spur trail that led to the plane crash remains once we back-tracked. There’s not a lot there, but it was still very cool.
Beyond a plane crash site, this forested hike rewards with sweeping views at the Glass Hollow Overlook and plenty of serenity with each step on the hiking trail.
This hike is adjacent to the uber-popular Humpback Rocks hike. In fact, the two share a parking lot. Yet far fewer step foot on this trail (or even know about the plane).
|Elevation Gain||685 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly dirt trails|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
Arriving at the Trailhead
Park in the Humpback Gap Overlook parking area at milepost 5.8. Plan to arrive early since – as I noted above – this hike shares a lot with the Humpback Rocks hike.
The trailhead is located at the north end of the parking area. Actually, since it’s a loop hike, there are two trailheads for the Jack Albright Loop.
We took the right-most trailhead, which completes this hike counter-clockwise. However, it’s worth noting that there’s no real benefit to going in either direction,
The First Steps
For the counter-clockwise hike, the hike begins with a mild descent along a forested trail until the .25-mile mark when you turn left onto the Appalachian Trail.
Continue a gradual descent until the 1.0-mile mark when you reach a trail sign and a short spur trail on the right for the Glass Hollow Overlook.
The spur trail is .2-mile one-way and completely worth the short hike for the overwhelmingly beautiful panoramas of the Rockfish Valley.
From here, re-trace your steps to the Appalachian Trail, then turn right to continue on. At the 1.8-mile mark, the Appalachian Trail veers off down the hill to the right.
However, you want to stick to the left to stay on the blue-blazed Jack Albright Loop. Stay alert, the plane wreckage is coming up soon.
At the 2.5-mile mark, there is a short, unmarked, barely visible spur trail on the left that leads up 50 feet or so to the plane crash remains.
As I noted above, we walked right by the spur trail once. Honestly, we didn’t know what we were looking for, but the path is very, very easy to miss.
There are two small areas of wreckage. The remains of the small plane are very crumpled and it’s difficult to tell what is what. Still, it was very interesting.
Once you check out the crash site, continue on the Jack Albright Loop. From here, it’s a quiet walk in the woods until you reach the parking area and close the loop.
We started this hike early, around 8:15 am on a Friday, but still we saw just one hiker on the entire route.
It’s easy to tack this hike, including the plane crash remains and the Glass Hollow Overlook, onto a hike to Humpback Rocks.
For this longer hike, start clockwise from the left-most trailhead. At the 3.3-mile mark, stay left for the Appalachian Trail. In another 3.0 miles, you will reach Humpback Rocks.
Exit Humpback Rocks by way of the Humpback Rocks Trail – rather than the Appalachian Trail – and you will arrive in the parking area in 1.0-mile.
This hike clocks in at 7.6-miles. Alternatively, it’s a 2.0-mile out-and-back hike to Humpback Rocks (or a 4.3-mile loop hike) from the parking area.
This hike took us nearly 2.5 hours to complete, though it does include the 1.0-mile out-and-back back-track to the plane remains.
If you’ve got a second hike in you, consider Dripping Rock South (milepost 10), which wows with booming mountain views.
With regard to the plane wreckage, adhere to Leave No Trace principles. Specifically, “leave it as you find it.”