Gristmill Guide to Hiking and Biking
Having 529 square miles of land, of which 89% is National Forest, and more than 9,000 acres are Nature Conservancy, Bath County is a hiking/biking lover’s dream! Starting your journey at the Inn at Gristmill Square ensures you are well-rested and fed, and ready to tackle all the trails! The most challenging issue you’ll face, other then the steep incline of our trails, is choosing which one to ride/hike first! Click here for a great brochure regarding hiking/biking/riding in the Western Highlands.
If a scenic vista is your thing, and hiking/biking upward is what you are looking for, Kate suggests trying the Deerlick Trail at the Homestead. The trail head is located in downtown Hot Springs. From here head up, parallel to the Old Course. Follow signs to stay on the Deerlick Trail (you’ll head left when the road/trail splits after you enter the woods from the gold course). Up, up, up you will go, but you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of Hot Springs and the beautiful resort. Once at the top stop for a drink of water and a snack at the rock outcropping. Once you’ve regained your stamina head back down the other side of the trail. You’ll eventually end up near the halfway house at on the Old Course. Here you can either head down, back towards Snead’s, or you can make this an even longer hike/bike by heading across Route 220 and getting on the North Trail. This trail goes up along the upper part of the golf course toward the North Ridge neighborhood. You will follow signs to stay on the trail. Eventually you’ll end up at the Mountain Lodge (ski area) at the Homestead. You can continue you on the South Trail from here making your way all the way to the “Piggery”, or you can walk/bike on the resort grounds back toward Hot Springs and your car. Whew!! You deserve an ice-cold beer after this one! Surely, you’ve also worked up an appetite. Head to Bacova Beer CO for a fresh draft and an order of Tatchos! (Kate's fave).
After you’ve refueled head back to the inn to relax with a book or a glass of wine by one of our firepits until it’s time to wash up and get ready for dinner. You’ve worked hard today and deserve to try a generous portion of our house made pasta.
If you aren’t too sore you need to head east and visit Douthat State Park. There are a multitude of trails there that are well marked. Simply pick on that interests you. There is a visitor’s center there in case you want some maps and recommendations. Blue Suck Falls is a great one, and if we’ve had some rain the falls will be running and will be worth the hike/bike! To learn more about Blue Suck Falls click here.
While at Douthat stop at one of their great picnic locations for lunch that you packed (we can help with that!*). Spend the rest of the day strolling around Clifton Forge. Learn more about the history of trains in the area at the C&O museum. Visit the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Craft Center right there in downtown Clifton Forge. For an adventurous drive back head up what locals call “airport mountain road” (click here for the map). When at the top follow signs for the airport for both stunning views from the top of Warm Springs mountain, but to also visit our little airport, the highest airport east of the Mississippi!
You’ll make your way back to Warm Springs via Route 220. If you want a quick side trip you can stop by Falling Springs Falls while you are that far south. Once back at the inn if time permits get a massage from the Warm Spirit Spa*. Your muscles will thank you!
Cap off your day with another great meal at the Waterwheel Restaurant and enjoy a good night’s rest in your super comfy bed. You’ll sleep like a baby after two full days of hikes.
Alternate Hikes/Bike Rides:
• Jackson River Scenic Trail (easy)
• Hidden Valley Jackson River Trail (easy)
• Cobbler Mountain/Muddy Run/Jackson River Gorge Trail (moderate)
• Bear Loop Trail (easy)
• Bolar Loop Trail (moderate)
• Ingalls Overlook (moderate)
*Advance notice required.