The House Mountain hike near Lexington Virginia is really two out-and-back hikes in one. Big House Mountain, with great views to the west from Goat Point Overlook, and Little House Mountain, with its spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley to the northeast. A major draw to Big House Mountain over the last several years is to spend time with the friendly goat. She took up residence on the ridge of Big House Mountain around 2011, and is known to join hikers up the last section to Goat Point Overlook, then asks for a toll tax of food ... which she normally receives.
Little House and Big House Mountains appear to tower out of the plains as they stand by themselves, separate from any other mountain range. The 950 acre House Mountain Preserve was purchased in 1989 through the efforts of the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and many local residents, including Bill Stubbs a leader in conservation causes in the Rockbridge area for many years. The area is now owned by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and managed locally by the House Mountain Management Committee representing RACC, W&L University, VMI, and VOF.
The saddle between Big House and Little House Mountains was originally a homestead, and more recently a orchard and pasture. With camping space for multiple tents, as well as a seasonal spring just past the shelter on Big House Mountain, this is a perfect place to take an overnight backpack.
From the parking area continue up unpaved VA643 and in 50 yards stay right uphill (private drive is left). Continue up VA643 for another 0.3 miles (please respect private property) to the closed gate and trailhead.
From the trailhead and closed gate, start up the unblazed House Mountain Trail. The trail passes private property on the left for the first 0.5 miles. The remaining hike to the saddle becomes steeper and more rutted.
Big House Mountain Out/Back - 1.7mls - 740ft gain - Moderate+
Return along the ridge to where the trail begins to descend, but continue to bushwack along the ridgeline for 100 yards where there is a boulder canyon. Just inside the boulders is Tabletop Rock. Return to the intersection down with the blue blazed trail and retrace your steps back to the saddle between Big House and Little House Mountains.
Return to the saddle by retracing your route.
Little House Mountain
Out/Back - 2.6mls - 940ft gain - Moderate
The new Little House Mountain trail is now fully marked with standard vertical blue blazes from the saddle (just behind the two signs) all the way to the incredible overlook. This new trail was the solution to the very strenuous, straight up trail before. This trail is not mountain bike/horse friendly.
From the saddle the Little House Mountain trail starts from behind the signs. Follow the blue blazes as it gradually ascends the south-west side of the ridge, before making several switchbacks and climbing the last half mile to the ridgeline.
At the ridge follow the trail through a thick section of Mountain Laurel before turning left back to the north. In 0.2 miles the trail passes to the left of the main summit before beginning its descent to the overlook in another 0.7 miles.
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Reviews For The House Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
We camped at the bottom to the east of the saddle on private land. This is our 3rd trip to House Mountain with a Scout Troop from Richmond, VA. The drive is easy--around 2 hours. We love this location! It has become an annual trip, and one where Scouts can perform conservation projects. On the past two trips, we backpacked up to the saddle where we set up camp. This time, with many new scouts having joined the troop, we decided to camp at the bottom and day hike.
The hike up the Jeep trail from camp to the saddle was strenuous (for the adults). It was a beautiful day, and the leaves were not quite out on the trees yet, affording us some great views along the way. We took plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Once at the saddle, Scouts performed conservation work on the 8 new apple tree seedlings, cutting away all the undergrowth, brush, and volunteers that had grown up around them. Hopefully, these trees will thrive and grow, and when the Scouts are adults they can come back and eat apples from them!
As mentioned in comments below, the meadow is cut and would make a great place to camp. It is beautiful in the saddle, and there is a nice privy/toilet and shelter nearby. The apple trees were blooming. There were many folks at the saddle, and we enjoyed stopping and chatting. There also seemed to be some sort of VMI reunion going on.
After we completed the conservation work, Scouts hiked up to the western top of Big House Mountain. That hike was also strenuous (for the adults). We came upon friendly neighbors on ATVs near the top where the trail forks (we took the left fork to the west). They pointed out the names of places and showed the Scouts various landmarks. We learned a lot of local names.
The view from the western edge of Big House was breathtaking! We could see for miles.
Overall, another successful trip to House Mountain. We will be back next year for sure! The Scouts love this place (as do the adult leaders).
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 16, 2016
I have been working on the saddle for about a month off and on and the majority of it is now mowed for the first time in about six years. This might be a good year for the apple trees up there. There is wood stacked near the fire ring in the saddle as well as under the shelter lip. Enjoy the hiking and camping and remember to take your trash down the hill. Thanks.
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 20, 2015
Great hike on a well-marked trail. I'm not a hiker, and I finished both in about 4 hours (plus time for pictures and food). I did Little House first, and despite warnings that it would be difficult, I didn't find it to be too bad. I actually thought it was a little harder to climb Big House, but that may be because I was tired at that point. I didn't see the goat, but it was a lovely day nonetheless.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 14, 2015
With 3 friends, we hiked the Big House Mt trail yesterday, it was a glorious November day. Started with a light rain jacket, but had to take it off. But was glad to not have the rain encountered on July 4, 2015, but on the earlier occasion we saw the goat, not this time. Got some great pix of my friends at both Goat Point Overlook, & at "The Guardian of the Mountain" formation. Climbing the last 50 yards up to the Summit Ridge was a real challenge for this 70 year old and reminded us of our caving days with the Girl Scouts of Hampton Roads. On the return, walking thru deep leaves, we had to be very alert not to slip. All in all, we got our moneys worth even for our friend who had driven up from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 24, 2015
We did this hike with our two dachshunds as an overnight trip and really enjoyed it! We started in the afternoon and opted to set up camp near the shelter before we tackled Big House Mountain on day one and then saved Little House Mountain for day two. Before setting out on Big House trail we were warned by a gentleman from trail maintenance that there is a goat who wanders around the summit who, though very friendly, has a tendency to head-butt people. Needless to say he told us to make sure we kept a safe distance from the edge if the goat was nearby.
While there were no goat encounters, the views were spectacular! We hit the foliage peak in the area so all of the leaves were gorgeous shades of red, yellow, and orange. Both trails were pretty steep in portions but the short distance made them very manageable.
Some notes about the campsites:
(1) There is a mid-size campsite when you reach the fork in the trail. You can fit approximately 4-5 tents in this area. When we got there a group was already set up so we had to look elsewhere.
(2) If you continue down the left trail (towards Big House Mountain) you will come across a shelter which offers another camp site. This is smaller, allowing for only 1-2 tents. This is where we camped for the night and found it to be wonderful!
(3)There is a beautiful campsite at the top of Big House Mountain which allows for one tent. If you are up for the challenge of lugging all of our gear up there the pay-off is definitely worth it! The downside is if someone has already occupied that spot you must then lug your gear back down the mountain.
(4)The map shows a camp site near the top of Little House Mountain. This site is very rocky and sloped. I would only recommend this for someone planning to spend the night in a hammock.
(5) If all of the established campsites are full, there is a lot of level-ground at the beginning of the Small House trail to set up camp.