The "Salt Pond" of the mountain's name is now called Mountain Lake. This lake lies just outside the boundary of the Mountain Lake Wilderness, and is best known as the site of the Mountain Lake Hotel where the popular 1980s romance film DIRTY DANCING was filmed. The location served as a stand-in for a fictional lake resort in New York state. Considering the elevation of the area is over 4,000 feet, the vegetation and terrain probably did a good job of approximating either of the lake districts of the Catskills and Adirondacks.
This mountain has peaks of over 4200 feet, but because the AT goes directly over the summit of Lone Pine, most people consider that to be the top of Salt Pond Mountain. A quick look at a topo map will prove otherwise.
The elevation of the mountain makes for some interesting terrain and is cause for the unique climate. The forests here are typical of more northerly types with lots of northern hardwoods, yellow birch, and even red spruce. In the day, there were many old growth hemlock trees here, but the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid has put an end to those spectacular groves. One can still find living hemlocks in the area, but this is only where the evergreens have been treated by landowners, and in pockets where the aphids have not penetrated.
The Appalachian Trail passes directly over the mountain and meanders through the Mountain Lake Wilderness before heading north. For this reason the mountain gets more than its fair share of visitors. In summer many thru-hikers make their ways up and down the trail, and in winter it's a popular cross-country ski destination. The mountain gets quite a lot of snowfall in a typical year.
Getting ThereTypical access is via the Appalachian Trail. There are any number of access points available.
The easiest way to get to the peak is via the War Spur Trail. Direction are:
Salt Pond Mountain, 3 miles from the Mountain Lake resort. Drive west from Blacksburg on 460. About 7 miles west, past Newport, turn right onto Route 700, following the signs to Mountain Lake. Drive the winding road 7 miles up the mountain, then continue past the resort and lake on route 613 to your right. A mile and half past that, take the left fork. In another 1.5 miles, there will be a parking area to the right. This is the trailhead.
Red TapeWilderness rules apply. This is National Forest lands for the most part, so no fees. However, some parts of the trail system are privately owned. At a few parking areas on private land there is a $3 fee which goes to the Mountain Lake Conservancy.
CampingCamping along AT at designated shelters and campsites. In all other parts of the area, wilderness rules apply.
External LinksMountain Lake Wilderness.
Mountain Lake Conservancy.
Mountain Lake Hotel.