05/17/2008- Wildcat Mountain Natural Area, VA Day Hike
The price of gas has definitely effected participation on hikes this year. I had 3 maybes tell me that they couldn't make this one. I'm sure that gas was a factor.
So I hopped on my motorcycle on Saturday morning, May 19th, 2008 and headed out to Wildcat Mountain Natural Area, VA. It is located just west of Marshall, VA off of US17 near I66. This is the 'snowbird route'. Retirees from western New York use this route to get to their Florida homes for the winter. I know a number of them that do this.
The first mile would have me ascending 400 feet to get to the top of England Mountain. That was rough. After that, you are basically walking along 2 different ridges that are separated by a gorge that has some streams in it. The area is very beautiful. Most of the trails are old roads. It looks like the area was logged over 100 years ago but then kept pristine. Once on top of the ridges, the elevation changes are no more than a few hundred feet.
There are 2 different loops that you can hike in this area. 2.9 and 5.2 miles. I sat at the intersection where I had to decide which loop to do for about 5 minutes trying to decide which one to do. Since I forgot my hat and my camera, I decided to do the short loop. So I'm game to come back here if someone else wants to do the longer loop.
Highlights of this trip included and old spring house that looked to be sporting a recently renovated roof, an old abandoned house called the Smith house and a small lake that forms the start of Black Cotton Branch. Another neat thing was that there were old (probably from the 60's) Nature Conservancy tins on the trees next to more tecently placed plastic trail markers. Some of these old shields were growing into the trees so I know that they had been there for awhile.
I passed a number of young couples hiking this trail as I was heading out. Nice way to spend a Saturday morning and afternoon. So I definitely enjoyed hiking this area and would welcome the opportunity to go back and hike the longer loop some day.