To get to this trailhead, take Interstate 81 to the Arcadia exit, Exit 168, between Natural Bridge and Buchanan. The most notable landmark at this exit is the Wattstull Inn motel, high on the hill overlooking the interstate. Take Arcadia Road (Rt. 614) east over the James River and past the Breeden's Bottom campground, which is used by boaters floating down the James. Look for Rt. 622, Solitude Road, on your left shortly after crossing the James, and take that. Solitude is an appropriate name for the approach road, because that is what you will find on this hike! Take the road for approximately 2.2 miles before coming to a gravel turnout on the left side, just before the road crosses Sprouts Run (N37° 34.034' W79° 36.228'). Park here, and walk north about 100 feet to the trailhead.
|View along Solitude Road near trailhead.|
|Park on left side of road heading toward trailhead.|
Trailhead on other side of bridge.
|Trail starts with stile over livestock fence - clearly marked.|
The trailhead meets Solitude Road at a point marked by a Forest Service sign and a stile that climbs over a wooden fence. For me, this was the biggest obstacle of the entire loop, as I had to grunt to get my 70 pound dog up and over this fence. It wasn't easy!
|Lifting a 70 pound GUHD was the hardest part of this hike!|
|Trail signs at trailhead.|
|Trail starts out marked with blazes on metal posts, and crosses|
Sprouts Run almost immediately.
|After crossing a field and passing a hay barn, the trail enters woods.|
There are a total of 14 crossings of Sprouts Run over the first 3 miles of the hike, along with a couple of feeder creek crossings. There are many beautiful views along Sprouts Run, especially in early Spring when I hiked the trail. At one point, someone built a wooden bench to sit and contemplate the water.
|Sprouts Run offers many beautiful spots.|
|Note the bench to sit and contemplate water cascading over rocks.|
|One of many stream crossings.|
The trail was very well marked, with yellow diamonds nailed to trees, and was in great shape. For most of its route, the Sprouts Run Trail followed an old woods road.
|Looking back to the west, the trail takes a sharp turn away from Sprouts Run|
as it heads towards Wilson Mountain. If low, get water here, because once
you leave the stream, there are few water options until the end of the hike.
|Sprouts Run Trail's eastern terminus, as seen from the intersection of National Forest roads at Hoop Pole Gap.|
Note the Hiker Sign and the horse stile, which signal the trail.
Follow the blazes on the road for nearly a mile before coming to a turnaround point with two metal gates. Behind one of the two gates is the trail sign pictured below. The Wilson Mountain Trail begins here and follows an old woods road past a couple of open clearings. This trail follows the ridgeline of Wilson Mountain, an area that has been assessed for, but never achieved, special protection status (logging prohibition, no new roads constructed).
|This trail sign signals the start of the Wilson Mountain Trail.|
|There are several limited views along the Wilson Mountain Trail,|
at least before the trees leaf out.
|The only water along the Wilson Mountain Trail is a nasty looking wildlife pond.|
|The view from the Wilson Mountain Trail down to the James River and the two|
train routes near the river.
The Wilson Mountain Trail drops down to Sprouts Run again, crossing the creek just before intersecting with the Sprouts Run Trail about a half mile from the trailhead. Retrace your steps through the open fields before coming to the stile at the end of the hike.
Trail Map: Link.
PATC Difficulty Factor: 203.9 (this is a comparatively easy hike - I took another hike after this one.)
Total Distance: 8.7 miles (This is my GPS measurement, which is probably a little high.)
Total Time: 3:17 hours (I took a lot of photos.)
Total Elevation Gain: 2389 feet
Starting Elevation: 824 ft.
Low Point: 811 ft.
Highest Point: 2071 ft.
Difference: 1260 ft.
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