“On a clear day, you can see forever.” My thoughts exactly as I looked all around me from the top of Cock’s Comb Trail. The view from the top is amazing as you take in the 180 degree vista. To the left, you see into Rockbridge County and to the right, into Allegheny County all the way to the state line. The actual hike is quite short, but these views are truly the drawing card.
Cock’s Comb Trail runs nearly parallel to the county line of Rockbridge and Allegheny. Though only a .21 mile trail, it is rated “Difficult” due to the steep incline. However, it was not as difficult as I had anticipated. For some reason, I envisioned a rock climb the entire distance and indeed, the last part is a scramble up boulders and some agility is required to accomplish that part of the hike. If you don’t get to the top of the rocks, you miss the view.
The trail is smooth and otherwise easily navigated. Late spring flowers were in bloom such as the pink wild azaleas, Lilly of the Valley and waves of deep purple widow’s tears. Black swallowtail butterflies enjoyed the floral sweetness and warmth of the sunlight filtering through the trees and a little bit mountain tea was growing along the trail. After a little bouldering to the top of the rocks, it is easy to see where the name “Cock’s Comb” comes from. Even the buzzards’ were enjoying sunning themselves on the lower set of rock outcroppings.
From the top looking toward the Rockbridge side of the mountain, you can see Lake Robertson in the valley. After we came down from the trail, we decided to explore the area around the lake. The lake is a 31 acre body of clear mountain water offering great fishing and boating. Also available is a large picnic area, tennis courts, a swimming pool, hiking trails, boat rentals, and a 56 site camping area which accommodates both RV’s and tents – another great option for a weekend outing of camping and canoeing on the lake.
To access the Cock’s Comb Trail from I-64 East, exit #35 at Longdale Furnace. Turn right onto Rt. 269 and travel .34 miles to SR 770 (Collierstown Road) which is to the left. Travel 4.1 miles to the top of the mountain, then take a left and continue 2.39 miles to the parking area which is on the left. Please note that signage is nonexistent and the trailhead is only minimally marked, but very visible. There is a post with a “5” on in and a National Forest flier attached to it. To continue on to Lake Robertson, after coming from the Cock’s Comb Trail, return out the 2.39 miles to the point that reconnects to SR770 and go left and this will take you down the other side of the mountain to SR652. Turn left and after a few miles, signage for Lake Robertson is on the left.
Published June 2014 – Day Tripper a tabloid insert to the Mountain Messenger published in Lewisburg, West Virginia