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.
Interactive Hike Map BelowPrintable
Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left
Mouse-over the icons in the map below for location shots
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the House Mountain hike:
Reviews For The House Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
Our hiking group tackled Little House Mountain today - we felt that doing both (rated here as 5-star difficulty) was probably a stretch for a group of 60-somethings.
We were right! Little House by itself was challenging enough for us - but well worth it. 7.8 miles RT on my GPS.
The GPS coordinates on the parking area were spot on. As was the route that I had downloaded from HU to my eTrex20...until we reached the meadow and discovered that I had downloaded the file a few years back which did not include the new trail. Fortunately, the trail was extremely well-blazed in blue. We found the ascent challenging enough (and wondered just how hard the old trail was to climb!). 4-star difficulty in our view.
The overlook was really something - reminded us of the views from nearby Jump Mountain (which we consider a slightly more difficult hike than Little House). 5-star views.
Unfortunately, we started the hike after lunch and couldn't hang around the overlook too long else we risk hiking down in the dark.
But we'll do this one again perhaps in May when the rhododendron is blooming.
Date of Hike: Monday, October 24, 2016
Hiked this on my first wedding anniversary with my wife. It was a Monday and we did not see one soul on the entire trail. First 2-ish miles are a bit hilly but the trail is nice and wide. We went up Big House first and though it's a short trip up, it's pretty steep (and no switchbacks!). We did not see the goat anywhere, perhaps he/she has left? The views at the top were spectacular! Hiked up Little House second, I personally thought this hike was easier with the switchbacks. The trail along the ridge can be pretty narrow at times between the mountain laurel (only one person wide through some sections). The views at the end are also fantastic, but they overlook I-66, so not at great at those on Big House IMO. Made it up and down both in 5 hours.
Date of Hike: Friday, September 16, 2016
I've hiked little house mountain twice before, but today was the first time I went to the summit of Big House mountain. I took my 4 year old daughter and she loved it. Great views, secluded, and we'll marked with blue blazes.
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 23, 2016
My husband and I decided to stop and do this hike on our way back from western Virginia. We didn't have time to do both Big and Little House, so we went with Little House. The views were beautiful! We got to a point on the hike where we thought the end must be coming soon, but it took a little bit longer than we anticipated. We had the view to ourselves, which was nice because there's not a lot of space to share. We'll have to come back to do Big House Mountain in the future.
Also, it's worth mentioning that the trail was well shaded. It was a really hot day (and we still sweat like crazy!) but under the trees it wasn't so bad. The only time you're really in the sun is at the top.
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 23, 2016
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).