Wildcat Mountain Natural Area (Marshall, Va.)

Getting ready for a surprisingly tough climb to the top of the ridge

Getting ready for a surprisingly tough climb to the top of the ridge

I do enjoy hiking!  I suppose it’s pretty obvious, but I do have mixed feelings about hiking on holiday weekends,  The crowds in some of our usual places leave me scrambling for possibilities in lesser-known areas, and the Wildcat Mountain Natural Area sounded like a good place to take a walk in the woods on this busy Sunday.

Seeing this jack-in-the-pulpit was almost enough to make the long drive worthwhile all by itself.  By the end of the day, I was glad I didn't spend yet another holiday weekend catching up on the laundry!

Seeing this jack-in-the-pulpit was almost enough to make the long drive worthwhile all by itself. By the end of the day, I was glad I didn’t spend yet another holiday weekend catching up on the laundry!

This relatively unknown spot at the end of England Mountain Road has a 2.9 mile, yellow-blazed lariat trail that starts off with a bang–a steep half-mile trek to a rolling (roughly) two-mile loop at the top of the ridge.  On the way up, we heard a loud thrashing in the woods, and knowing that bears have been seen in the area gave us high hopes of seeing one.  Such was not the case, but the 667′ of total elevation gain gave us a good cardiovascular workout.

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree--or will I?

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree–or will I?

At the top, we opted to head in a counter-clockwise direction, following an old stone wall before bearing to the left.  Along the way, the highlights were a small pond, a spring house, and a couple of really small stream crossings.  The hike, of course, ended by traveling down the same hill we climbed in the beginning.

A well-constructed stone wall near the beginning of the upper loop

A well-constructed stone wall near the beginning of the upper loop

In all, a nice map is available at the kiosk, and there are several interpretive signs along the trail that help in identifying many of the trees.  Thus, this hike is a great learning experience for would-be woodsmen.  We traveled a long way for such a short hike, but it was a worthwhile trip to a very nice place.  It’s just too bad we didn’t spot the large animal making all of the noise: that is always worth a few bonus points!

This pond is about two-thirds of the way into the walk.  In the summer, I imagine that it's much smaller.

This pond is about two-thirds of the way into the walk. In the summer, I imagine that it’s much smaller.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Debbie on May 31, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    This looks like a very pretty, peaceful place to walk, and I loved your description of the area. I always enjoy reading your posts!

    Reply

    • Posted by LevelWalker on July 2, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Debbie,

      Thanks. It was a nice place with some interesting plants. I would still like to know if that was a bear we heard!

      Reply

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