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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)
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By: SMN703 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 04, 2015
It took us an hour and 15 minutes to complete this hike - that's a 9 and 16 year old old (boys) and their semi-out of shape mom... and we stopped to check out the abandoned buildings. Going up hill was a killer and I wanted to quit (and that was the very beginning) but after that, it was nice. We never saw the other couple on the trail until the final descent to the cars, I guess we caught up to them.

OH and FYI we had NO reception to find geocaches while we were on this route... I was able to get spotty reception for facebook and email but the geocaching app could never locate us or nearby caches.

By: CJ Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 21, 2014
Great hike for the fall-- we only ran into one other set of hikers, and the trail was abundantly marked. The initial ascent part is a little challenging, but the flat out loop is a nice easy path. There is now a lawnmower graveyard at the trailhead. The explanations on some of the trees are interesting, and two old houses are nice and spooky. The stone walls are extensive.

By: FlexHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2014

-This hike has a steep and buttkicking climb to start....even in semi-shape it will hurt.

-We went on an overcast day...thank God! The humidity and heat combined with the mosquitos can be rough.

-Didn't see one animal! Not even the ever present deer!

-Pond and streams are dried up even in a not so dry summer.

-Extended paths are now closed because of local D-Bags.

-Nothing visually interesting except stacked stone walls....imagine building these?!?

-Nearby town Warrenton has friendly people and nice restaurants for post hike.

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.

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