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Wildcat Mountain - Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
2.9 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
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 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 Wildcat Mountain loop is well marked with yellow blazes. There are many other interconnecting trails in the preserve boundaries,  do not attemt to hike them. They are not maintained or marked, and many lead onto private property. Many hikers have become disoriented attempting to hike these trails and have required rescue by emergency personnel. Do not put yourself or the future of these hiking trails in jeopardy, so please stay on the marked trail.

The directions below navigate and point out the highlights of the 2.9 mile Wildcat Mountain loop trail.

From the parking area walk up the gravel road for 120 yards to the point where the road comes to a 'T'. 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)
Review the Wildcat Mountain hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Mike S Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 06, 2015
Very nice hike.  Because of the verticality of the first .4 mile and the later ups and downs, it is good exercise for a 2.9 mile hike.  Trails are very well-signed and wide enough so you can avoid your legs touching the vegetation on the sides.  (We saw almost no poison ivy.)  I agree with the reviewer who says it is quiet there were only a few hikers.  Unfortunately, although the website says there are 155 species of birds, we saw not a one.  Want to go back when the leaves are gone to see how things look then.

By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 08, 2015
Trail was well marked and the first half mile was challenging.  The trails are not maintained and growing over in some places to include poison ivy alongside the trail.  Due to the surrounding growth, there is no scenic view. 

By: Rob P Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 12, 2015
I agree with some of what's been reviewed here. No doubt it is an uncrowned, quiet hike. I went on a warm, but pleasant July day and only ran into two separate sets of hikers. Yes, the first part is a killer and the scenery in the summer is nothing to speak of but the place does feel wild, especially considering its relatively close-in location. Very nice foliage - I don't know much about it but didn't feel extraordinary. I think I saw a black bear off in the distance but it was real quick.

I think the trail has been paired back baecuae I didn't even see the old house, though walked right past the Spring House. I found the trails perfectly marked and never had a chance to get lost or stumble on to private property. I don't think there's parking for more than 6 cars.

Overall good fun, I'll come back when it's cooler. One thing: I admit I didn't study all the signs but I never saw anything that said I couldn't bring my dog. It was only until I got home and found this website that I saw the restriction. Never even occurred to me.

By: Rob P Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 12, 2015
I probably should've double checked but this cite sez its "dog friendly" I now see that all NC places in virginia do not allow dogs.

By: Jason Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 21, 2015
Wow! #trailfromhell This trail is not meant for beginners. You basically climb a mountain for the first half mile. Once at the top it doesn't flatten out but remains difficult. The lack of maintenance in the trail is evident with the trail very narrow in the loop. And even though a hiker had gone through recently the spider webs are almost at every bush crossing the trails. I left with a ton of spiders and ticks because the trail is not trimmed back. If the trail needs funds to maintain they should create a zip line and charge 5-$10 donation to get back down after the loop. I would pay it and it would bring a ton of interest in the hike. I was soaked through after my 2 hour hike. Loved it the next day when I couldn't stand!!

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