A few of my favorite features of a hike are solitude, terrain features, and views. I love the meditative quality of being alone with nature coupled with the reminders of nature’s majesty. Fortune’s Cove offered some serious solitude, fun ascents, and pretty glimpses of the valley.
Hidden off of 29 North in Lovingston, Fortune’s Cove is part of a 755 acre plot of land owned and protected by The Nature Conservancy. Although somewhat difficult to find, we eventually stumbled upon the official sign and knew we were in the right place. The parking lot was small and pleasantly not crowded – only one other car was in the lot when we arrived and was gone when we returned from our hike. One note about this trail is that animals are not allowed, a rule we noticed fellow hikers were not respecting.
We decided to take the upper loop trail, listed on Nature Conservancy’s page as being a 5.5 mile loop with more steep inclines than the lower loop trail. The trail starts with a 1700 foot climb right off the bat with very few switchbacks. This climb continues until the trail splits off into either the white trail (lower loop at 3.7 miles) or yellow trail (upper loop at 5.5 miles). The signs were frequent and very easy to follow, leaving no question as to where we were headed.
We didn’t see a single other person on the trail, a welcome experience having hiked some of the more popular trails in the region. The website indicates several locations to catch views of the valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. We only passed one spot on the loop trail where we caught some decent views removed from tree cover. I think if we had hiked in the summer, we definitely would’ve had more limited views. The “view” sign at High Top Mountain is pretty misleading, the only thing you will be able to view from the top is the huge cell tower that dominates the summit. On the positive side, you will likely have full cell service for the entire hike.
This trail was definitely longer than 5.5 miles. We clocked approximately 7.7 miles on a GPS watch from the beginning of the trail to the end. Be prepared with a snack or a lunch if need be. Another word of warning: if it recently rained or snowed in the region, a lot of the trail can become slippery. I’m usually pretty surefooted and I slipped several times.
Overall this wasn’t my favorite hike in the Central Virginia region, but it was a good longer workout with a lot of tough inclines. Another plus to this trail: Mountain Cove Vineyards is less than a half mile down the road and Virginia Distillery Company is less than 10 minutes away. Both are fantastic options for locally made treats post-hike.