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A guide to walking trails on the farm...

Please note that we have been doing some selective timber cutting in the trail areas... proceed with caution as there is considerable debris in these areas yet to be cleaned up, some of which will be left for the wildlife to shelter, feed and nest in.  Also note that the farm boundary has been marked with blue blazes: a map is available.

Gailen and the "boys!"There are several marked walking trails about the farm.  As part of their daily walking regimen, Ron, and the “Boys” have been marking out these trails which, in large part, were already established as game trails.  The farm has abundant wild life, including deer, turkeys, grouse and birds of all sorts, including a nesting pair of Red Tail hawks. The observant hiker is likely to encounter some of our friends as you travel these trails.  All of the trails start from the parking area located at the top of the ridge. The trails are categorized by the following levels of difficulty:

  • Light - trail is less than as half mile and has moderate grade, may have sloping and rooted footing, but is clear of debris and obstacles.

  • Moderate - trail is a mile or less and has steep grades and rocky terrain, but is clear of debris and obstacles.

  • Difficult - trail is a mile or more, has steep grades and rough footing, obstacles may block the trail requiring some ‘detouring.’

The Basin Trail - lightly strenuous, about a third of a mile.

Winter Walk with Mac and HarleyThis trail, which is marked with faded red blaze tags, begins at the east end of the parking area and follows a slight slope upwards and to the southeast. This is a trail frequently used by the white tail deer and other smaller animals. Use caution as there are numerous roots crossing the trail. The trail continues for several hundred yards, winding its way through the trees. On the left as you approach a small ridge there is an intersecting trail. This is the end of the ‘basin loop’ of the trail. Continue straight ahead. The ‘basin’ is on your left and was most likely formed many years ago by the collapse of an underground cave. The Rockbridge area is replete with underground caves and caverns, although no cave entrances have been found here on the farm. As you climb up a small ridge, the trail follows the rim of the basin. This is the southern boundary of the farm, and you might encounter some of our four legged Angus neighbors staring at you from across the fence! Continue around the rim past a great chestnut oak tree, on your right, which was probably just a sapling as the civil war raged throughout the valley in the 1860's. From here the trail dips down before climbing back up to intersect the main trail which retraces your path back to the parking area.

Saville Hill Crest Trail - light to moderate, about a half mile.

This trail is a climb to the crest of the farm's namesake and takes you to the highest spot on the farm, about 1,650 feet. Topolographical map of the farmThe trail, which is also red tag blazed, begins on the south side of the parking area and quickly intersects a newly cut logging road as you travel southwest, the road continues, but the trail cuts left, beginning a steady south east climb toward the crest. As you weave upward through the woods, keep a close eye open for small critters which frequently venture out during the day. After about a quarter mile, the trail begins to turn more toward the southwest. Here you will encounter a large field of Periwinkle: a profuse ground cover that was frequently used to mark burial sites since its dense growth crowds out other plants and provides a low maintenance cover for the graves. Sure enough, there are grave sites just a short detour to your right! We believe that there are thirteen graves here, many with plain stone markers. If there were ever legends on the stones, time and the weather have rendered them unreadable. A planned project is to research the identity of the families who used this site. We will eventually complete clean up and restoration of this area. Please treat this area with respect for those unknown souls resting here. Back on the main trail, the direction continues southwest toward the crest of the ridge. The crest is thickly wooded, so there isn't much of a view, but the numerous fallen trees give stark testimony to the force of the winds that blow across the top. After lingering for a while, you can retrace your steps back to the parking area or continue west, along the “Pond Trail,” which also provides access to the crest from another direction.

The Pond Trail - moderate to difficult, about a mile.

The pond trail is a continuation of the “Saville Hill Crest Trail” and follows the west side of the hill down toward the ponds and spring. The trail has difficult footing and is frequently strewn with fallen trees and debris, but is passable. As you travel down the west side of the hill, the direction slowly turns towards the north and at a point about two thirds of the way down, the trail branches into two paths, the left branch leading the the west pond and the other to a small spring.

 
  • The pond branch trail crosses the road to the west pond and a short walk back up the road leads to the smaller ‘catfish’ pond.

  • The spring branch leads to a small spring that is piped into the ‘catfish’ pond. A short walk down the road from the spring to the pond rejoins the two branches.

Adam, Ron and Gailen at the Catfish pond

The trail proceeds upward, east along an old road, now a grassy path. A short way up this road, the trail turns right off the path and leads to the remnants of an old turn of the century cabin site. Nothing remains of the cabin other than piles of stone used for the foundation and chimney. Ron has moved many of these stones to build a retaining wall in front of the Octagon house. We've not found the privy site, which is often of some archaeology value, but admittedly, we haven't looked too hard! While cleaning and capping the spring, which is just a short distance from this site, we did find many old shards of pottery and china. A climb up a short embankment rejoins the grassy road and follows the western boundary of the south sheep pasture: following the fence line returns you to the parking area.

The Tall Pines Trail - moderate to difficult, about two miles.

The Tall Pines trail branches from the Basin trail and follows an old looping logging and fire road.  Follow the branch trail, which departs from the east side of the basin, until you come to a fork at the run-off pond... at this juncture you have the option of going left or right to complete the circuit which will return you to the pond.  This is a leisurely hike that takes you through a large stand of white pines, some of which are nearly one hundred feet tall!  These are the kind of trees that used to be sought for use as masts on the old sailing vessels that roamed the Chesapeake bay and the seas beyond.  As you walk, you will come to several branches in the road, but bear either continuously left or right, depending on the direction you began the loop, until you complete the circuit.  Veering the wrong way will lead you off of the farm.

 

If you would like to study a detailed survey map of our farm, click on the thumbnail below. However, this is a large file (641KB) so be patient.

 

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Copyright 1998-2012 Saville Hill Farm & Studio
Last modified: March 23, 2015