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Ascent of Big House Mountain on 2017-07-15

Climber: Mike Stinson

Others in Party:Tanya Stinson
Date:Saturday, July 15, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Big House Mountain
    Location:USA-Virginia
    Elevation:3645 ft / 1110 m

Ascent Trip Report

We parked near the end of the state-maintained portion of state route 643 (off SR 641, off US 60 west of Lexington) and started upwards. This is where the standard routes up both Big House Mountain and Little House Mountain start. Signs on trees designate a parking area (on the left side of the road when heading up). A large sign at the end of the road includes a topo map indicating the routes to the top of both mountains and provides information about the ownership of the upper slopes of the mountains, which are largely protected as part of the House Mountain Reserve. From the parking area, the trail up Big House Mountain is actually a private road (gravel) that turns into a gated 4WD road that after about 2.1 miles reaches the grassy/brushy saddle between Big and Little House. There's a T junction at the saddle (with large signs).

From there, the trail/road continues nearly to the top of Big House Mountain, and another trail leads up Little House. Near the top of Big House, the old road take a sharp right turn and a blue-blazed trail heads left and up through a rocky section (class 2) to the summit ridge. Follow the blue blazes for some excellent views to the south and west, but to reach the summit you'll either have to follow a fading trail from there (blue-blazed, then not blazed) northeast, and eventually bushwhack a tiny bit to the unmarked summit, OR continue on the old road another few hundred meters until it reaches an area just northeast of the summit. The trail shown on the USGS topo appears to follow the old road bed all the way up, and the building shown on the topo is still there (a squarish cinderblock building that I did not enter). The actual summit is above the old road, off the trail, and requires a little bushwhacking no matter which way you approach it, the main obstacle being some loose rocks. When I was there the top was marked by pink ribbons on two trees, and these were just visible from the road/trail. Exploring the summit ridge will reveal some beautiful rock formations, but some areas have loose rocks; also, watch for snakes in warm weather. A recommended hike.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1905 ft / 580 m
    Extra Gain:40 ft / 12 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:Trail Head Lane > Big House Mountain Trail
    Trailhead:1820 ft / 554 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy



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