Trails in the George Washington National Forest's Warm Springs District can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes, a trail is virtually non-existent. Other times, a much more remote trail can be in really great shape. Trail maintenance out this way appears to be accomplished mostly by a mountain bike group called the Alleghany Highlands Trail Club - they have my thanks. If a trail is useful to mountain bikers, such as it has been used for an event, the trail will be in great shape. This is one of those trails, as I confirmed several weeks after hiking this trail - I ran into the guy who directed this trail's renovation while I was hiking another trail, and it was the Alleghany Highlands Trail Club which opened this trail back up.
This description covers the Brushy Ridge and Little Mare Mountain trails, which connect to each other and combine for a generally north/south route extending from a little north of Douthat State Park to a little south of Virginia Rt. 39. They are found on the eastern side of Warm Springs Mountain, east of the Homestead Resort. Hiking these trails is best done using a car shuttle. Hiking these trails on a couple of Spring weekends, I saw no other users on the trail. Strava's heatmap shows that these trails get a moderate amount of mountain bike use and low hiking use. Because of the mountain bike use, the trails were in relatively good shape: obstructions like down trees were often cleaned up, however growth encroaching on the trail was often an issue. This meant I had to push through wet vegitation on this hike.
I hiked this trail with a small group, heading south to north. We parked in a parking area just off of Smith Creek Road, which is a forest service road that cuts west just north of Douthat State Park.
There is a house at the turnoff from the Douthat State Park Road that was made out of a railroad boxcar, which is my landmark for the road. The Brushy Ridge Trail actually ends at Smith Creek Road, but there is direct access from the parking lot and most people clearly start from there. The condition of the trail between the parking lot cutoff and the road is noticeably inferior.
Mile 0.0: The trail access is via a short side trail in the southeast corner of the parking lot. The actual trail is about 50 feet from the parking lot. You turn left onto the trail, which is blazed twice - blue is for the Brushy Ridge Trail, and yellow is for a longer equestrian route. On your left, the forest is very thin - I believe this area was logged at some point. On the right, the forest is much less thin, making me think that the trail was a boundary for a tree harvest. The trail itself starts out wide and grassy, following an old road bed.
Mile 0.4: The trail soon cuts right off of the old road bed. Keep an eye out for this turn.
It continues to climb through a section of forest that was not very thick, but I found very pretty.
Mile 0.9: It curved to the right and came out on a woods road. Be sure to turn left on this road, as the trail follows the road for a ways.
Mile 1.5: Keep an eye out on the left as you progress, as the trail drops back off of this road without a sign telling you that you have reached an intersection. The road straight ahead is the Lasso Loop Trail - primarily for equestrians and not very interesting - and to the left the Brushy Ridge Trail continues.