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)
Hello, we are a hiking group from Richmond planning to come in mid-Nov to backpack this trail (1 night). Wondering if anyone had some info: is the spring at the saddle reliable or do we need to bring all of our water with us. Any other good advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
I hiked this with a friend yesterday and started around 2:10pm (when we got to the gate) and finished around 5:45pm.
-Side Note**I'm a collegiate athlete**
But this was one hard hike I must admit, going at the speed we did, I could help but keep strutting. This hike had more straight uphill than any other trail I've endured. It was a GREAT workout, and the reward was mightingly! Which I was very satisfied with, it was a beautiful fall day, maybe the last one of the season, but it was tough due to lots of leaves ontop of rocks, which is where I had to spend more energy onto myself. (I now have boots, haha!)
Just be aware when climbing, near summiting, you will have to stay left, and you will hopefully spot the blue blaze on that one rock which will set the ret of the trail. Me and my friend went right and became confused, as we were near tabletop rock, but it was a gorgeous day for hiking!
Date of Hike: Thursday, June 05, 2014
The superlatives in the reviews are well-deserved. Hiked up to the saddle and then up to Little House summit and down the ridge line to the overlook. The pink rhododenren were spectacular, fully in bloom and also some blossoms along the level trail. Magical. Returned to the saddle, found the spring about 3-4 minutes hike from the shelter which was just a trickle thru the pipe. Definitely a spring, possibly early summer, seasonal water source, as it took 35 minutes to get three liters. Then hiked to the summit of Big House to camp for the night. Yes, only one fire ring and obvious campsite, although there was a grassy area which may allow another tent or two. The views and sunset to the west were amazing from multiple vantage points, and I enjoyed them all. Easy hike down and back the next day. This is a great hike.
Brian and Brenda
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 31, 2014
It was a beautiful day on the saddle! Brian and I cleared and marked the path from the shelter to the spring. We had lots of help from our very energetic, bouncy dog. At one time, a pipe was laid from the spring to somewhere, but that is no longer intact. The spring house in in poor repair...it needs cleaning and a bit of work so the cover fits properly. Even so, it is possible to refill a water bottle for a thirsty hiker (or his/her faithful dog companion). All in all, it was a rewarding day spent in the woods improving an area we love!
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 24, 2014
This was an incredible hike! There is little to look at from the parking area to the saddle. It is an old road, a bit rocky, but wide and well defined. The road is a constant incline, but not bad. Once at the saddle you get a feel for the views about. There is a small meadow with a camps site, a lean to, and a latrine. From this point I climbed Big House. It is at a constant steep incline. It is not far (a half mile or so), but there are no switchbacks. The train here is wide enough for an ATV. Once at the top, the views are amazing. A small scramble over some rocks and you find the cliff, from which you can see for miles.
I read that Little House was the more difficult climb. The stewards have redesigned the Little House Trail. Is it narrow with several swithbacks but far more pleasant than Big House. Once atop Little House, you'll need to walk almost the entire length of the mountain before you find the views. The are some boulder fields which are fun in and of themselves. The mile or so to the cliffs on Little House are worth the extra mile of walking.
Bring sturdy boots, a camera, and determination. I meet only a couple of people on the trail, mostly on the road to the saddle. A great day of hiking.