OverviewBig House Mountain is the premier mountain hike in and around Lexington, Virginia. The mountain looms high over Lexington just a few miles west of the city, its broad sweeping summit massif hard to miss (or resist!). The mountain "range" actually consists of two distinct peaks: Big House at 3,645 feet, and nearby Little House at 3,386 feet. Between the two is a wonderful broad saddle/meadow with an AT-style shelter. The range used to be homesteaded and the saddle itself was an old orchard. You still may be able to see old rock walls and foundation footings at points along the trail (we found a couple). Students from nearby Washington & Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute often hike the trail, for fun as well as for training.
Historically a popular hiking destination for hikers of all stripes in the area, old-timers had to contend with private property that surrounded most of the mountain. However, since the early 1990s, the mountains have been protected as a preserve thanks to the efforts of the Rockbridge Area Conserevation Council (RACC) and the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF).
Note: We plan to add more to this page over the coming days or weeks, including some more narrative and links to appropriate sites. So for now the page is ready to go, but check back in periodically to see what we have added.
Getting ThereOn US-60 in downtown Lexington near the buildings of Washington & Lee University, proceed westbound for about two miles to Jacktown Road (County Road 641) on the left. Follow Jacktown Road for about 3.5 miles through pretty countryside to Saddle Ridge Road (County Road 643). Turn right onto 643 and drive about 1/4 mile to a small parking area on the left side of the road. A sign prohibits further travel on this road except for homeowners who live up the remainder of the road. CR-641 is paved, but 643 is not, although it is good gravel and fine for all vehicles.
Beware: you may see a sign for "House Mtn Road" about a mile before the turn-off to 643. Despite its name, it's just a residential street with no trailhead access.
Red TapeThere are no fees nor other requirements to hike this peak other than to honor all posted notices. Most of the surrounding lands are private on either side of the initial portion of the trail/road.
CampingCamping at the trailhead is not really a good idea: you're on a residential road nearby some homes. Lexington and Buena Vista have all sorts of options for decent lodging.
External LinksRockbridge Area Conservation Council
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
Our Big House Mountain Trip Report (www.surgent.net)