Brushy Hills Preserve
Owned by the city of Lexington, the Brushy Hills Preserve is a 560 acre watershed tract. The Brushy Hills Trails are among the most accessible hiking trails from Lexington. The fourteen-mile trail system is composed mostly of single-track forest paths, plus a few former logging roads, offering many possible loops and out-and-back hikes in a natural woodland setting.
At the parking lot kiosk you’ll find a trail map to take with you, as well as other information. With the MAP you can plan a hike to suit your inclinations and the time available.
Here are some sample loops:
- For a short, easy stroll, look for the Deer Trail across the road from the parking lot. It follows a creek bed for a quarter mile, and you can return by Ol’ Yeller and Ol’ Red.
- The Ol’ Yeller – Ol’ Red loop is a 2.2-mile walk on former roads wide enough for easily walking and talking with a companion. It will take about an hour.
- For a more challenging hike, seek out one of the trails on or near the edges of the Preserve, which will take you up to higher elevations — the Ridge Trail on the southwest edge or the Knoll or Tin Cup on the northeast.The Knoll Trail offers views of the mountains to the west.
Any number of routes are possible, including a "periphery loop" of 5 or 6 miles with plenty of ups and downs.
The Brushy Hills forest occupies a watershed surrounded by ridges, so it feels quiet and remote. It’s a good place not only for hiking but also for taking it easy and enjoying the birds, trees, flowers, and peace and quiet.
Self-guided Spring Plant Walk
Watch spring unfolding in Brushy Hills by walking the Salamander and Turtle Trails and looking for the numbered flags. With your phone in hand, use the "Brushy Hills Plant Walk" PDF which provides an ID, species information, and a color photo for each plant. Plants on the walk include some ferns and young trees, as well as flowering plants in various stages—already making seeds, in bloom now, and yet to bloom. The flags will be in place into early May, so you can come back and see the plants at a later stage.
Download the "Brushy Hills Plant Walk"PDF (formatted for mobile phones) or scan the QR Code code posted on the kiosk at the Brushy Hills main trailhead.
Spring Plant Walks are an annual project of the local chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society local chapter.
From the Lexington Visitor Center, turn right onto Washington Street, followed by a left onto Jefferson Street. Drive .2 mile to a right onto McDowell Street, followed by a left onto Jackson Avenue. After .4 mile, turn right onto Ross Road, and drive to a "T" intersection, about 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Union Run Road. Continue 0.6 miles to the Brushy Hills Trails sign and Town Spring on the right, with parking lot opposite.
- Because of the variation in trail choices, be sure to grab a map.
- Because there are so many possible routes of different lengths, this could be the perfect destination for a group of various ages and abilities.
- The proximity of this trail system to Lexington makes it an ideal mid-morning or mid-afternoon destination. Pack a lunch for before or after your hike by sourcing it at a local café like Sweet Treats, Blue Sky Bakery, or Legendary Eats.
Nasty 9 Trail Run
Brushy Hills Preserve is home to miles of trails, lovingly developed and maintained by the Friends of Brushy Hills, a group of volunteers affiliated with the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC).
The race serves as an annual fund raiser for the Friends of Brushy Hills and an area food pantry, the Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA). Participants are encouraged to bring canned goods and other non-perishable food items to donate on race day.
Two race distances are offered on awesome single-tracks — a challenging nine mile course with over 2,000 feet of vertical gain, and a 3-4 mile course with about 500 feet of climbing.
To learn more and to register for the race, visit the Nasty 9 Trail Run at Brushy Hills website.