Hiking A Selection of Nine Nearby Trails

For a complete guide to local areas including photographs, routes, and descriptions pick-up a copy of the Washington and Lee Outing Club Guidebook, available through the W&L Outing Club, University Bookstore and at local book shops.  For a list of items to take with you on a hike you can view this Personal Equipment Checklist.

Using Our Guide

When you choose any of our hikes you'll find the format below. We've included a brief explanation to each of the headings you'll see to explain how we've set up each of the hiking web-pages.

Page Format for Hikes

  • Hike:  Name of the hike

  • Summary:  Quick summary window of the hike so that you can see if this hike is what you want and have time to do

  • Total Time: An estimated time to do this hike from when you leave Lexington, do your hike and return back to Lexington.

  • Difficulty: Rated in one of three categories;Drive Time/Mileage: The time it will take to dive to the trail head from Lexington and the mileage one way.

    • Leisurely stroll,
    • Moderate (has some steep hills i.e. you'll break a sweat), and
    • Difficult (should be in good physical condition and have some outdoor experience)
  • Hike Time: The time it will take from the trailhead to get to the summit, waterfall, etc... (one way)

  • Distance: The distance from the trail head to the summit etc.. in miles.

  • View: Rated as follows;

    • Wild (Great views, waterfalls, wide variety of plants),
    • Wooded (a hike through the woods not to many views), or
    • Developed (hike on a logging road, or through pastures, or trail cuts near homes and roads)
  • Maps - You will have three maps to each hike (in the Guidebook only);Directions - Written directions on how to get to the trail head from Lexington.

    • Road map with highlighted route to the hike,
    • USGS topo-map with highlighted route of the hike, and a
    • 3-D Microdem special by John Blackburn

Hiking Boots

One of the most important pieces of gear you'll ever own is your hiking boots. To keep your feet comfortable, i.e. blister and foot injury free, it is very important that your boots fit. The following suggestions are good things to keep in mind when buying a pair of boots.

Types of Hiking Boots

There are two types of boots on the market, leather boots and lightweight hiking boots. Leather boots tend to be more durable and last longer, and can be waterproofed. They are expensive. Lightweight boots tend to be more breathable, more comfortable, cheaper, and require a shorter break-in time. However they aren't as durable as leather boots and they aren't waterproof. Your boots should have good ankle support.

Sizing Your Boots at the Store

  • Your feet swell as they warm up. Therefore, it is very important that your feet be warmed up when you try your boots on. A good idea is to park far away from the store. Walk a half mile to the store in the afternoon when it's warm. That way your foot will be more the size it will be when you are actually hiking.

  • The best way to prevent blisters and an uncomfortable foot while hiking is to protect your foot by wearing two pairs of hiking socks. When you go to try on your boots, bring two pairs of hiking socks with you. Two pairs of socks will not only give you good padding, but will also wick the moisture away from your foot as well.

  • When you are guessing your foot size, go up a ½ size. When you put the shoe on, you should also be able to put a finger between your foot and the heel of the boot.

  • Once you have the shoe on, lace the boot up. Don't lace it too tightly, but just snugly. Walk around the store and see how they feel. In particular, make sure that your heel can slide around slightly. The boot should be comfortable but stiff.

  • Your toes should not hit the front of the boot too much. To simulate walking down a hill bang the toe of the boot on the ground or against a wall. Your toe shouldn't hit the front of the boot too easily. If it does, either your boot is too small or your laces aren't snug enough. Your boots should feel a little big.

Tips About Boots and Boot Care

  • Remember that it takes awhile for boots to be broken in, in particular full grain leather boots. Some companies say that about 200 miles is the break-in time for leather boots! Wear your boots around the house and in the yard before you go on a long hike. Many people also wear different sock combinations when hiking. Try different thicknesses, but always use at least two pairs of socks. For example; a liner and midweight, two pairs of midweight, liner and heavy weight, etc... Go with what feels best.

  • Clean your boots after a hike. The grit in boots can abrade the leather.

  • Grease your boots often. This will not only help keep them waterproof but it also makes you clean your boots every once in a while.

  • Buy a boot that has very few seams. The more stitching in a boot, the more places there are for water to leak in.

  • Buy a boot which can be resoled. Usually the sole of your boot is the first thing to go and in most cases $35 will get you a resole/'new' boot.


  • Jack Albright, Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia. c1994

  • Allen de Hart and Bruce Sundquist, Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide. c1993

  • Claudia Person, N.O.L.S. Cookery. c1997

  • Tod Schimelphenig and Linda Lindsey, N.O.L.S. Wilderness First Aid. c1992

Brushy Hill Preserve

A network of about six miles of old logging roads and linking trails in a 600-acre watershed tract owned by the City of Lexington. The perimeter is identified by blaze-orange marks on boundary trees.

Chessie Nature Trail

The Chessie Trail lies along the right of way formerly occupied by the C& O rail tracks that connected Lexington with the main line near Buena Vista. In August of 1969 hurricane Agnes dumped over twenty inches of rain in the Valley; as the Maury River rose the raging waters destroyed the railway bridge at East Lexington just downstream of the dam and ripped up most of the tracks.

Devil's Marbleyard

This Trail begins with a moderate hike along Belfast Creek. Read the trail signs at the beginning of the trail for two very different renditions of the Devil's Marbleyard.

Goshen Pass

Goshen Attracts a wide variety of people, including boaters, climbers, hikers, float trippers, picnickers and fishermen. Goshen Pass has been enjoyed by generations of Washington and Lee students, faculty and staff.

House Mountain

The climb up to Big House Mountain is quite strenuous with few switchbacks. At the top of Big House Mountain you have two options. There is one trail that traverses the ridge to the cliffs. You'll pass an old building on your left on your way to the cliffs, and then you'll find the cliffs at the very northern end of the ridge.

Mount Pleasant and Mount Pompey

This trail starts out level but then begins to climb steadily up the side of the mountain. There are small creek crossings through some large boulders. The trail will come the saddle Mount Pompey and Mount Pleasant.

North Mountain

The North Mountain Trail heads south along the top of a cliff band, where the views continue. Eventually the trail descends down the backside of the mountain to Route 271 and the Longdale Furnace Recreation area.

Panther Falls

A very short hike. This trail runs parallel to the Pedlar River. After a quarter of a mile walk downstream and look for the large boulders. The 10-foot high falls and pool are definitely a great idea for those hot summer days!

W&L Back Campus

This network of trails is great for a short walk or an afternoon run. At the far end of the trail network, the path leads along the wooded banks of the Maury River to the VMI cliffs.