North Mountain View Trail in George Washington National Forest

After a long and strenuous hike the previous day, we were in the mood for a relatively short and moderate hike, so we settled on the North Mountain Trail. About a mile in from the trail head is a lovely view of the countryside below.

The elevation gain is easy: less than 200 feet for the entire there and back hike. The crest of North Mountain offers good views into both Catawba and Craig Creek Valleys. McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs are also visible.

You’re in the heart of the forest, with all that entails, including lack of cell phone service and absolute wilderness. There are no facilities on the North Mountain Trail.

For the first 3/4 of a mile, you head steadily but gently uphill. It’s not strenuous but you’ll increase your heart rate and stretch your legs. You’ll catch glimpses of views through the trees on both sides, as the trail follows the line of a ridge.

Then you reach the peak of the mountain and begin a similarly steady but gentle slope downhill. This continues until the trail veers sharply to the right at about a mile in.

You’ll want to stop right there. Through the trees, there’s a lovely view of the mountains in the distance and the countryside below. Slip off the trail for 15 feet and sit in the grass at the edge of the cliff and enjoy that view!

We didn’t even see other vehicles on the road, much less other people on the trail. This is where you want to go if you seek solitude. It’s just you, the deer, the bears and the forest. We had our barking coonhound along so we didn’t see any forest critters.

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests stretch along the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and into parts of West Virginia and Kentucky.

Know before you go: Wear sturdy hiking boots, as the trail is extremely rocky and uneven — you’ll appreciate the ankle support.

Getting there: GPS or Wayz the Ivanhoe Presbyterian Church at 71 Lower Cove Run Road in Lost City/Mathias, WV. Instead of turning into the church’s parking lot, continue on Lower Cove Run Road until it turns into a dirt road, about 5 miles (give or take tenth of a mile); continue on the dirt road (toward Columbia Furnace) for about 2.3 miles. You’ll notice a few small parking areas along the road and small signs that have trail names and information. The North Mountain Trail Head is on the right; two trails head back from this trailhead. Take the trail on the right to do the hike described in this article.

Hours: Daylight, or bring camping gear (but practice leave no trace)


Follow the MidAtlantic DayTrips on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.