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Wildcat Mountain - Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
2.9 mls N/A
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2.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
810 ft
The Nature Conservancy
Dogs are NOT permitted
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
From VA691/Carter Run Rd. turn onto England Mountain Rd. (marked private). In 150 yards paved England Mountain Rd. becomes gravel, continue for 50 yards and park on the right at the Wildcat Mountain parking area and kiosk. 38.79203, -77.86488
Please Note: Carpool if possible as parking space is very limited. Park in the designated parking area ONLY.

One of Virginia's hidden jewels, and managed by The Nature Conservancy, the Wildcat Mountain Natural Area is a 655 acre preserve located on a plateau in the Northern Virginia Piedmont. The main hiking circuit is 2.9 miles, and passes the abandoned Smith House and Spring House. The preserve has a large diversity of wildlife with over 155 different species of birds, as well as black bear and coyote. The name Wildcat Mountain is probably derived from the prominence of Mountain Lions in the area when the mountain was first settled.

In the 1960's a large portion of Wildcat Mountain was bequeathed to The Nature Conservancy for stewardship, and is now available for public hiking. The main Wildcat Mountain loop is well marked with yellow blazes. There are many other interconnecting trails in the preserve boundaries, however it is not recommended you hike them as they are not maintained, and many lead onto private property.

The directions below navigate and point out the highlights of the 2.9 mile Wildcat Mountain loop trail. The the easiest way not to get lost in the labyrinth of interconnection trails and roads is to stay on the well marked yellow blazed, Wildcat Mountain loop trail.

From the parking area walk up the gravel road for 120 yards to the point where the road veers left onto private property. Turn right, following the trail signs for the Wildcat Mountain Natural Area and shortly pass a chain gate. Begin the steepest section of the hike as trail makes several switchbacks for 0.4 miles before reaching a stone wall and intersection of the main loop.

Turn left following the trail signs as it descends the ridge for 0.6 miles then turns right and follows one of the many small fire roads. This area has an abundance of Spicebush, a small shrub that grows to about 6ft. The plant flowers in March/April with small yellow petals, and is also a favorite habitat for butterflies.

The fire road will veer left uphill, then pass around a small rise before reaching a split in the road in 0.3 miles. Stay left downhill and cross a stream. Climb 50 yards to the next intersection where the loop trail turns right. Turn right continuing to follow the Wildcat Mountain loop trail on a dirt road believed to be one of the oldest roads in Virginia. In another 0.1 miles arrive at the Spring House, a replica built in the early 1960's, with the original Spring Box just uphill. The Smith House further up the rise, was constructed in the early 1900's by Enoch Smith, and remained occupied for most of the early 20th Century.

Turn right as the yellow blazed Wildcat Mountain loop trail as it crosses over the earth embankment of a small pond. In 0.2 miles from the pond arrive at a stone wall and fire road intersection on the right. Remain straight following the trail signs for 0.5 miles where the trail turns right off the fire road. Follow the trail signs now downhill before arriving back at the beginning of the loop in another 0.3 miles.

Turn left downhill at the end of the stone wall, retracing the route 0.4 miles back to the parking area.

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Hiker Reviews For The Wildcat Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Hike4mylife Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 08, 2014
RATTLESNAKES, COYOTE, BEAR, GUNS AND YOU WILL GET LOST. The private property owners are obviously tired of "lost hikers." They will ask your name after they called their local authorities. It is a long drive for us city folks for a shortish loop after a steep climb. I ran into another hiker who shared... "hunting season is especially unwelcoming as shotguns are everywhere... that he thought summer would be different, but is not and he is not returning, Neither will I.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 04, 2014
Just an FYI to anyone considering this hike: A few cables have gone up closing everything but the main blazed loop. The formerly available 4-5 mile option with the north loop is apparently no longer available.

By: The Woodruffs Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 03, 2013
My husband and I took our two boys, ages 4 and 6, on this hike. It was a bit intense on the way up and down due to how high the mountain was, but once we got over the ridge, it was an awesome hike! We stopped at the spring house and Smith house for lunch and a mini photo shoot. Legs were burning and it exhausted the boys. Beautiful weather and so peaceful.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Hiked this in the rain with about five other people. This hike had nice rolling hills. Trails were very well maintained. Good alternative for a quick hike while the National Parks are shut down. This would be a good training hike for people who may have hiked a little and want to get in better shape. For the more experienced hiker, it was a pretty easy trail.

By: Kevin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Chose this one for it's solitude and wasn't disappointed. Trail began with a good deal of switch-backs and you climb about 500 ft rather quickly. Nice array of rocky/grassy trails. Had two encounters with wildlife out there! One was a rattlesnake which I never saw but clearly heard. It was in the higher grassy area of the hike so might want to be careful going through there. Then saw another hiker using his binoculars to look at something in the distance which appeared to be a bobcat? Not sure cause it was far away, but wouldn't be surprised. you are quite alone out there.

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