Just A Mountain House
Don’t let the name fool you. In my opinion, “ruins” is an overstatement. When imagining “ruins” one thinks of grandeur and importance. I did not feel either. The plaque in the middle of the surrounding fallen stones, unfortunately, does not answer any of the important questions I had about these “ruins.” Why is this place so special? Why is the National Park Service erecting a plaque for them? Why do I care?
Regardless of my unanswered questions and the underwhelming ruins, the hike was loverly. The day I went, it smelled perfumey from the blanket of tiny flowers spread across the ground. And hiked to the consistent sound of crickets jumping through the brown leaves. I treaded (carefully) out on to a rockface to stare at the rolling mountains beyond and soak up some of the warm sun and feel the warm breeze on my face. The ruins were obviously not the point of this small hike.
Trailhead:There is no trailhead. There are multiple points along the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) that you can begin in order to reach the ruins.
Length: 3.9 miles
Type: Out & Back (with a little loop)
Where: Blue Ridge Parkway
Description: You can begin anywhere, but I used the All Trails app to find this hike. Follow the white blazes (for the MST) until you reach the ruins. Then, you can follow the blue blazes in either direction because they form a circular trail. I did not realize this at first, and I ended up continuing down the larger trail and had to back track.
Directions & Parking: The All Trails app had me park at one of the pull offs on Ox Creek Road. Take the Blue Ridge Parkway north until you turn left on Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. Then continue straight onto Ox Creek Road. I parked at the pulloff after you hit the crest of the ridge and begin descending down the mountain.