Start in the same parking lot where the swinging bridge at the beginning of the Jump Mountain hike. Instead of crossing the bridge, head back to VA 39 and cross the road. Directly across the road you may see a white blaze. That blaze signals the Guy's Run Trail. You are going to follow that up a little valley for a couple hundred yards before the trail cuts diagonally out of the valley to the right. It may be hard to see. You'll go up about 20 feet in elevation and level out in a somewhat swampy area. You should see some cut logs in the area.
|Trail start as seen from VA 39.|
As you approach Forge Mountain, it can also be a problem following the trail again. I remember my first time going through a downed tree that had been sawed - it was obvious that I was on the trail. But I could not tell where the trail went next. After a while I figured it out - it cut up the slope to the right at an angle and then switchbacked to the left. You may see some white blazes, but really, you need to feel for the trail here. Once you get past here, though, the rest of the trail is pretty easy to follow.
|T Intersection. Take a left onto a woods road.|
For now, take a left on the road, which is the beginning of the Forge Mountain Trail. It continues for a while and then cuts right, heading directly up Forge Mountain. The climb can be steep at times.
At 0.8 miles, keep an eye to the left of the trail for a sign telling you about a side trail to a small overlook that has a view of Lake Merriweather to the north - which is surrounded by Boy Scout camps from the DC area. The viewpoint could use some trimming.
|See the sign on the left for the overlook.|
|View from first overlook.|
|Sassafras defines the trail.|
There are many options past this point, and I've now taken all of them. To the right, you can follow the trail under the power lines, It takes you to some great views before dropping precipitously as a bushwhack to Guy's Run Road and the other end of the Guy's Run Trail.
|Near the summit of Big Butt Mountain, a trail heads back to Forge Mtn.|
Going straight across the power lines will take you to the Cooper's Knob Trail, also white blazed. It can be hard to find in growing season - I did not find it the first time I hiked this area in October, but when I hiked it in mid-March, it was very easy to see. This trail climbs over Cooper's Knob then drops down to a road at 4.1 miles. This road, to the right, connects with the Guy's Run Road and to the left, summits the 3451 foot high Big Butt Mountain at 5.9 miles. The Big Butt summit, though now tree covered, once included a fire tower which must have had a commanding view of many surrounding counties. Near the top of Big Butt is another trail, which heads back north towards the power line cut. It is essentially a bushwhack, though it contains occasional white blazes, as shown below.
|Ridge coming down from Big Butt Mountain seems like a blazed bushwhack.|
|Under the power lines.|