Trimble Mountain is a lovely, wooded trail through the North River Ranger District of George Washington National Forest. The hike begins near Todd Lake. It climbs the mountain, follows the ridge across two summits and then descends back to the start point.
Well, this entry should have been part four in the Backpacking 101 series, but sadly my sprained ankle forced us to bail out on the trip. The weight of a pack on my sore ankle is still too painful. Fortunately, I was cleared to do some light day-hiking again. So, on Saturday morning, Adam and I headed out to George Washington National Forest.
Trimble Mountain fit the bill for a light and easy hike. The four-mile trail isn’t too rocky and follows a gentle grade both up and down the mountain. We parked along the road near Todd Lake. Before hitting the trail, we climbed up the backside of the dam and enjoyed the lake view. The top of the dam also provides a great look at Trimble Mountain. The sky was absolutely gorgeous – a real photographer’s dream. It was the prettiest I’ve ever seen Todd Lake look.
Shortly thereafter, we were on our way up the Trimble Mountain trail. Within a tenth of a mile, we reached a “Y” in the trail. We took the left branch, following Hiking Upward‘s advice that it was the gentler, more gradual grade. For about a mile and a quarter, we climbed steadily upward. It was never tough climbing, but it was consistent. The trail was really narrow and carved into the mountainside. A lot of places, one foot was always laterally uphill from the other, and there was barely room for placement of my trekking poles. It was also an unusually warm day for early May, so the bugs were out in full force.
Trimble Mountain actually has two summits with a saddle between. Once you gain the ridge, the terrain consists of both uphill and downhill hiking. There really aren’t any views to speak of at the summit. Every now and then, we could see glimpses of the mountains through the trees, but there was never a sweeping, panoramic view along this hike.
The remainder of the hike went by quickly and was all downhill. I stopped many times along the way to photograph the abundant wildflowers on the forest floor. I also spotted a few little tree frogs. They were so tiny and fast that I had a hard time getting photos. They were the only wildlife we saw on the trail.
By the time we got back to the car, my ankle was quite sore again. The downhill walking really seems to strain it. I hope that little by little it will feel better and become stronger. Hopefully when it’s healed, we can make up that backpacking trip.
We had been to the Todd Lake area before of George Washington National Forest, but this was our first time hiking Trimble Mountain. Todd Lake receives a lot of campers and local visitors that want to enjoy swimming and basking. The Trimble Mountain trail that is nearby doesn’t seem to get a lot of traffic. We had the entire hike to ourselves on a beautiful day outside. The bugs helped us realize that the warm weather is here. One thing that is different about hiking national forest trails is that there isn’t a lot of maintenance to the trails. There were a couple of trees spread across the trail and the trail was becoming a little more overgrown in parts. We had heard that there were good views on this trail, but we were disappointed to find that most of the views are obstructed. The only views you will see is in break in the trees. The winter would probably lead to more views of the mountainside, but after the leaves fall this will look a lot more dull. We enjoyed getting out to hike and the wildflower variety was definitely a highlight of the trail.
There is one geocache on the trail and a few at the nearby Todd Lake area. The first you can find along this hiking trail. The other trail would involve hiking along the Todd Lake Trail which you can reach from the opposite side of the road from the Trimble Mountain trail. The Todd Lake Trail is a little less than a mile and takes you around the entire Todd Lake area. Since the day that we did the hike was the 10th Anniversary of geocaching, I felt I needed to do a couple of these to celebrate the hobby.
- Distance – 4 miles – loop
- Elevation Change –around 1,050 feet
- Difficulty – 2 This climb on this hike is about two miles, but is very moderate.
- Trail Conditions – 3. The trail is narrow and little bit overgrown.
- Views –1. There are some nice glimpses of the mountains through the trees, but nothing remarkable. Views might be nicer in the winter when trees are bare.
- Waterfalls/streams –1. In times of heavy rain, you’ll find several small streams along the trail. Most of the year, these streams are dry.
- Wildlife – 1. The national forest is used by hunters, so animals tend to stay hidden. We saw quite a few frogs and toads along the trail.
- Ease to Navigate – 5. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow.
- Solitude – 4. We didn’t see a soul.
Directions to trailhead: From Bridgewater, Virginia head south on Rte. 42 for about three miles, following signs to Natural Chimneys regional park. Take a right on 613 and in less than one mile, take a left on state route 747. Take a right .75 miles after Natural Chimneys to the intersection with 731. Take a right heading north. In about a mile, take a left on to State Route 730/North River Road. This comes to an end and take a right on to state route 718. In another mile, you will take a left on to Forest Road 95, entering George Washington National Forest (you will see signs directing you to Todd Lake). The trailhead is about 3.5 miles on the left. You can park on the side of the road right near a trailer dump station. The trailhead is on the opposite side. (There is a trail on the same side of the dump station that leads to the top of Todd Lake if you are interested.)