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.
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.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.