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Rough Mountain Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Rough Mountain Wilderness (map) in 1988 and it now has a total of 9,326 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Virginia and is managed by the Forest Service.


Rough Mountain Wilderness is approximately six miles long and two miles wide, an area of steep ridges and dry drainages with elevations ranging from 1,150 feet along the Cowpasture River to 2,842 feet on Rough Mountain. The ridges often afford great views across the Allegheny Mountains, the Blue Ridge, and the Cowpasture River Valley. Upland hardwoods dominate the ridges, and the drainages contain mainly oaks. The south-facing slopes contain a southern yellow pine component. Rough Mountain receives light visitor use, primarily due to difficult access. Most of the area borders CSX Railroad land and other privately owned acreage without legal access.

The three-mile Crane Trail (FT #454) runs east-west through the middle of the wilderness, but there is no legal access to either terminus on private land. A visit to aptly-named Rough Mountain requires cross-country foot travel from the north to reach the boundary. This Wilderness and the surrounding area are depicted on National Geographic-Trails Illustrated Map # 788 (Covington-Alleghany Highlands).

Rough Mountain Wilderness is located in Bath and Alleghany Counties, in west central Virginia. It is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, as part of the Warm Springs Ranger District of the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.

Planning to Visit the Rough Mountain Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Rough Mountain Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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