One of the great attractions of bushwhacking and off-trail hiking is the chance to get away from the crowds and go places few others visit, especially if these places are just as spectacular as the crowded, better known areas with trails. It’s even better when you discover such a place on your own, go there with no prior knowledge of it from books or other people, and even though realizing you are very unlikely to be the first, being confident that very few people ever go there. And it’s even better yet when it ends up being more spectacular than you expected and hoped for.
Such is the case with Green Hill in Rockbridge County. There is certainly nothing in its innocuous sounding name to make you think this might be an awesome place to hike. There is no trail shown crossing it on the topo, or even coming near it, to tempt you into taking a hike either, just to see what is there. But if you keep a careful eye out for such things, there are a number of rock outcrops visible from several miles away on the North Mountain Trail. That’s how Green Hill came onto my radar in October of 2009 while hiking that nearby trail with Leanne.
After studying maps and Google Earth, I went back a couple months later with a route in mind, the first few miles of which were on a gated road to the old Lexington Reservoir. I was blown away by the views and terrain I found, and went back a second time the next Winter with my peakbagging buddy Shane Ashby. That was partly because I wanted to visit Green Hill again and for Shane to see it, and partly because it made a good way to access the true summit of North Mountain, a P1K that was on our shared list of peakbagging goals.
It’s not often that I hike with more than one, or occasionally two other people - especially if bushwhacking is involved. But I was so enamoured of this place that I wanted to share it with other friends. My buddy +David Socky also enjoys doing an occasional bushwhack, and since it ‘tis the season, I had gotten him interested in doing a hike here. We set a date, and in the course of waiting I mentioned it to another mutual friend, Tommy Bell, who is another enthusiastic hiker, though not an enthusiastic bushwhacker. But he is more than willing if it’s somewhere worthwhile, plus he liked the idea of finally hiking with Dave again after a fairly long time. Meanwhile, Dave had been doing some long caving trips with +Stephanie Petri and told me that she might be interested in going. I knew her from a few other caving trips I had been on and thought it would be great if she joined us as long as Dave made sure she knew what to expect and was OK with it, which she certainly was.
|Knife-edge on South Ridge.|
|Big House and Little House Mountains (right).|
From here, the ridgeline route continues southwest to the 3,000’ gap below North Mountain, then bears southeast down a drainage into the valley we started in. The topo shows a trail in this drainage, but in three trips here, I’ve yet to see any trace of it. Part of the drainage is steep, narrow, and very rocky, making for tedious walking. But it doesn’t last too long, then it’s a quick mile back to the trailhead and the waiting car. Now I need to find someone else to show my now not so secret spot to.
The route of the Green Hill hike. To see a larger map click here.
2,750' cumulative elevation gain
Pictures from this hike
Pictures from other hikes to Green Hill:
gpx files and topos
Google map for trailhead
Scan QR code to navigate to trailheads with Google Maps on your smartphone: