THINGS TO KNOW AND DO
WHEN YOU STAY AT WOLF TRAP FARM
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AT THE FARM
Our gas-powered golf cart is available for rent on a half-day or full-day basis, by reservation or first come-first served. The rate is $25/half day; $40/full day (morning is until 1:00; afternoon is 1:00 to dusk). You can reserve the golf cart by calling or emailing the farm, or by checking with Tina. The maintenance staff or Tina can give you a brief tutorial if you are not familiar with gas golf carts. The cart stays in the Equipment Building (the metal building where the Pavilion is located). The cart makes it much easier to explore the farm and woods. The charges for using the cart can be added to your bill. Due to several bad experiences, we now require that golf cart drivers be 21 or older.
Wolftrap Drive, our farm road, stretches from the railroad tracks you crossed when you entered the farm off of Highway 15 to our back gate on Cox Mill Road (Virginia Route 639). It is almost a mile long, so if you hike to each end from the houses, you have gone close to two miles.
If you hike down to the railroad tracks, you cross Mountain Run creek and pass by a hay shed and our front pond. The walk back gets a bit steep.
If you walk to Cox Mill Road, you pass the barns, the riding ring, the equipment building and Pavilion, the Milker's Cottage, the driveway to Baldy's Retreat, and our back pastures and hay fields.
The woods at the farm are laced with nice trails, with no real hazards or bad terrain. They are old logging roads mostly. You can get lost, but if you stay on the trails they will either dead-end and you can reverse, or they will bring you back to civilization, usually Cox Mill Road or the farm. We had some logging done in 2016, and the cut over area is pretty easy to stumble upon if you get lost. If you are somehow disoriented, when you find the cut over area, you can follow the skid trails to Cox Mill Road and back to the farm. There is also a gravel road through the woods that takes you to Cox Mill Road, so if you are truly lost, find the cut over area or the gravel road and hike out to Cox Mill and back to our back gate. No one has stayed lost very long. You might walk up on some deer or turkey, and there are copperheads, as in all eastern woodlands, but they are not common. We have seen one in 12 years.
Enter the woods and trails from the Manor House or Servants’ Cottage by using the alleyway between the two horse paddocks (the Manor House paddock and the Pond House paddock). From the Pond House, just follow the fence from near your front door to the woods, and you will see the trails taking you into the woods (and you will find a great rope swing at the edge of the woods). From the Milker's Cottage or from Baldy's Retreat, walk straight past the barns and past the Servants' Cottage and between the two fenced paddocks.
The fishing in the two large ponds is awesome. They are each full of bass and bream. Feel free to cook what you catch if you want, as they need to be thinned out so they can keep growing. The fishing gear is on the back porch of the Pond House and in the Play Barn (the small red barn down toward the Pond House). If you want to find your own worms, just go in the woods and turn over a dead log or two. You can also buy night crawlers in Gordonsville at the Valero gas station at the traffic circle.
If you are really serious about your fishing, you can ask the staff about the hidden ponds. There could be a monster bass in one of them, though the two state citation bass we know of from the farm came from the pond behind the Pond House.
If you do not have fishing experience and you need some help, let us know and we may be able to arrange “lessons”.
Firepits & Firewood:
There are fire pits at each house for your enjoyment. Wood for the Manor House is stored in the Dairy Shed, the little concrete shed beside the Manor House patio. For the Servants' Cottage, it is on the covered patio. For the Pond House, it is on the back porch. For the Milker's Cottage, it is on the porch. For Baldy's, it is on or near the back deck. As Smokey says, “Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.” There are also working fireplaces in the Dining Room and Living Room of the Manor House, in the Dining Room of the Milker's Cottage, and in the Den at Baldy's Retreat.
The hot tub is on the patio at the Manor House and is principally for the Manor House guests. However, guests at the other houses certainly may use the hot tub when the Manor House is unoccupied. Check with Tina about whether the coast is clear.
You will find horseshoe pits behind the Manor House and in the back yard of the Milker's Cottage.
The rope swing at the Manor House is in plain view, but there is also a bigger, adult sized rope swing at the edge of the woods at the corner of the Pond House paddock.
Other outdoor toys and sports items are stored in the Game Barn (the small red barn toward the Pond House). Here’s what we try to keep in there:
Bicycles (there should be hand pumps in the Game Barn). It is difficult, but not impossible, to bike in the woods. Biking on Wolf Trap Drive is pretty good, except for the hill down the front. If you want to bike on local roads, we recommend going out the back gate to Cox Mill Road. It works to bike into Gordonsville (right turn out the back gate). Its less than four miles and the road is pretty most of the way. It is narrow, and there is traffic. As you come to Gordonsville, stay on Cox Mill where it makes a 90 degree left turn, then take the next two right turns and you will be in downtown Gordonsville.
Metal Detector if you want to search for relics.
Soccer Goals and ball
On the back porch of the Pond House you will find the Bimini Ring Game, supposedly invented by Hemingway on Bimini Island. The game is pretty simple; just try to swing the ring so it lands on the hook. It can be done!
It is not a formal game, but kids love to jump on the hay bales out by the equipment shed (in season). They also enjoy trying to catch insects with the nets we leave at the houses.
The Game Barn:
There is a pool table, a ping pong table, air hockey and a foosball table in the Game Barn, as well as darts and other games.
The folks at the stables usually are gracious and friendly to our guests, and guests often walk through the barns and ask questions. Children and dogs need to be very closely supervised if they visit the stables. Please do not go inside the paddocks when horses are inside. Guests often feed the horses apples and carrots AT THEIR OWN RISK! Horses sometimes bite, either on purpose or by accident.
Outdoor Activities in the Area:
Many of our guests enjoy trail rides at Oakland Heights with our friends David and Sally Lamb. It is very close. Go out to Highway 15 and turn left towards Gordonsville. Immediately start looking to your right for the Oakland Heights driveway. Its less than ½ mile. The phone is 540-832-3350. Call ahead and make an appointment and tell them you are staying at Wolf Trap.
Rafting and Tubing:
This is not close by, but it is a great activity in the heat of summer. James River Reeling and Rafting in Scottsville is about an hour away. They run a very professional operation on the James River. The phone number is 434-286-4386.
Hot Air Ballooning:
This is expensive, but if this is on your “Bucket List”, here’s a chance to scratch it off. The operators will come to the farm for lift-off. They are Bonn-Air Charters, and the phone number is 434-981-5260. There are others as well, including Blue Ridge Ballooning and Virginia Hot Air Ballooning.
Another “Bucket List” item? Call Skydive Orange at 540-943-6587. This is at the local airport in Orange, just 15 minutes away. It is not cheap, but are you really shopping for a cheap skydiving service?
It takes about 50 minutes to reach Skyline Drive from the farm. You take Highway 33 North from the traffic circle in Gordonsville and stay on it until you intersect the Skyline Drive. You pass through Ruckersville, where there are lots of antiques malls and shops. If you go South on Skyline Drive, you can get off at I-64 and return to the farm via Shadwell and Keswick, which is one of the most beautiful drives in America.
The farm is very convenient to several of the best wineries in the state. Barboursville Winery is sort of the “mother church” for Virginia wineries. The Zonins, a prominent Italian winemaking family, founded it in 1976, and it has developed into a very successful, award winning winery. It is about a 15 minute drive from the farm, straight up Highway 33 from the Gordonsville traffic circle.
Barboursville has a wonderful tasting room. While you are there, take time to view the Barboursville Ruins, which are on site. It has the largest boxwoods you will ever see. Also, in the village of Barboursville there are several nice art galleries, well worth stopping in.
As you drive to Barboursville, you will pass Horton Cellars. Horton also has a nice tasting room and fine wines, but we suggest you hit Barboursville first and do Horton on the way back if you still have capacity. A bit further beyond Barboursville, toward Charlottesville on Highway 20, is Burnley Vineyards. (Frankly, we do not recommend Burnley.)
As you drive from the farm to Orange, less than a mile after you turn onto Highway 15, you will find a new “Offsite Tasting Room” at Honalee Vineyards. They pour wines from several of the local wineries that do not have their own tasting rooms. Honalee is also a farm store, offering produce and local canned goods and such. It is on the left side of the highway as you go toward Orange. If you miss it on the way to Orange, you can spot their signs and drop in on the way back.
If you visit Monticello or head into Charlottesville via 231 through Keswick, you will pass Keswick Vineyards, and Jefferson Vineyards is very near to Monticello, as you might guess. We are not impressed by the wines at Keswick, but the setting is fabulous (and what do we know about wines). You will also see the signs for Castle Hill Cidery, which produces hard ciders, a Virginia tradition. They have a nice tasting room and beautiful views as well.
If you head toward Charlottesville on Highway 33, for a trip to Skyline Drive, Ruckersville, etc., you may want to take time to visit Madison, just a few miles north on Highway 29. There you will find Early Mountain Vineyards, which has a magnificent tasting room and gift shop, plus our favorite Virginia wines. They offer food, as well as wine, so you might want to make this a lunch destination. While in the Madison area, you will want to visit Yoder Farm Store and the Plough & Hearth Outlet Store.
If you have not been to Monticello, it is not to be missed. Jefferson had such an eye for beauty, and his home demonstrates that fact. It is a gorgeous location and the home and grounds are just magnificent. It is the only World Heritage Site in Virginia. How many of those will you see in your lifetime?
Also, it Is a beautiful drive from the farm to Monticello. You go to the Gordonsville traffic circle and proceed on 231 South. You will pass through Keswick, then Shadwell, where you will merge onto Highway 250. Just follow the signs to Monticello.
Allow time to stop at Michies Tavern, which is just before Monticello. It’s a good place to plan on having lunch if you are doing Monticello in the afternoon. Otherwise, eat lunch before you leave Gordonsville.
There is a special connection between Wolftrap Farm and James and Dolley Madison's Montpelier home. James and Dolley Madison once owned the land that is now Wolf Trap Farm. It was one of the Madisons' "outlying farms", and as the crow flies, is only about 5 miles from their home farm, Montpelier. Madison called the Wolftrap Farm property “Blackmeadow”, for some reason. “Blackacre” is what lawyers call a generic farm, just as they call unknown males “John Doe”. Madison was probably playing on this idea when he called this land “Blackmeadow”.
The recent history of Montpelier and its ongoing restoration is fascinating. Upon Madison’s death, Dolley and her drunkard son could not maintain Montpelier, and it was sold. A century later, it was purchased by the DuPont family. Marion Scott Dupont was a child at the time, and she grew up at Montpelier and spent the rest of her life there as a leading American horsewoman. Montpelier was more than tripled in size by the Dupont family, and it became a center for American steeplechase racing. Mrs. Dupont owned the first American horse to win the Grand National Steeplechase in England.
When she died, Mrs. Dupont left Montpelier to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with the instruction that Montpelier be restored to be as it was during Madison’s day. A decade later, Paul Mellon, another horse lover, made a bequest that provided the funds to begin the restoration. It took about 5 years to complete the work on the home, and it is still only partially furnished. It is not as grand as Montpelier, but it is still pretty wonderful. There is an old growth forest there if you want to see what our eastern woodlands really looked like when the Native Americans were its only inhabitants.
To appreciate Montpelier, you need to appreciate the leading role that Madison had in the development of the U.S. Constitution. Madison showed up at the Constitutional Convention with a plan in hand, known as the Virginia Plan. This Plan of a three-branch government with bicameral legislature and a system of checks and balances became the basis for the Constitution. At Montpelier, you can spend time in the room where Madison developed the Virginia Plan and can gaze upon the same mountains he gazed upon when he looked up from his work. (Then when you return to the farm, you can speculate on whether you are still walking on paths that “Mr. Jimmy” trod. Jefferson called his friend Madison "the best farmer in America", so we can assume that Mr. Jimmy often checked on his Blackmeadow farm.)
Montpelier is just on the other side of those mountains you see when you look toward the sunset from the farm. There is a gravel road over the mountains into the back gate of Montpelier, but we send guests the long way through Orange so they won’t get lost. Just take Highway 15 into Orange, don’t turn right at the “Y”, but stay straight to the dead end on Main Street. Then turn left on Highway 20 and drive the 5 miles to the entrance.
You can make the return trip to the farm more interesting if, when leaving Montpelier, you turn left instead of back toward Orange. After about 4 miles you will intersect Route 231 at the Somerset Country Store. (You should stop in for lunch or a snack.) Take 231 South and you will enjoy a beautiful drive through Somerset back to the Gordonsville traffic circle. You should know how to get back to the farm from there.
Wilderness was in the national news a lot about 8 years ago due to the controversy about Walmart wanting to put in a supercenter near the battlefield. That plan was abandoned, and they found a new site for Walmart further from the battlefield. The Wilderness battle was the first time Grant went head-to-head with Lee. Grant won, and kept on winning after that, so the Wilderness battle really marked the turning point in the Civil War.
The battlefield is at the Northeast corner of Orange County, up Highway 3. To get there, drive into Orange and follow the signs to Highway 3.
Exchange Hotel Civil War Museum:
This is right in Gordonsville. It is well worth seeing. Gordonsville was a railroad town, with several lines intersecting here. The “Exchange Hotel” was where travelers on one line would stay overnight to catch a train on another line. The hotel became a Confederate hospital during the Civil War, and it is now a museum featuring the hospital and camp experiences of Civil War soldiers. You will also learn a bit about Gordonsville’s role in the Civil War. Union troops made several efforts to capture this important transportation center, but never succeeded.
James Madison Museum:
This is a nice museum right in Orange dedicated to President Madison. Go into Orange and stay straight, rather than bearing right to stay on Highway 15.
This was James Monroe’s home for some years. It is near Monticello, and guests who visit it usually add it on to a visit to Monticello. It does not consume nearly as much time. What is so remarkable is that Presidents 3, 4 & 5 were literally neighbors who visited one another regularly. Monroe was #5.
Downtown Gordonsville has lots of little shops featuring antiques, gifts, clothing and jewelry and fine art. Rather than tell you what is there, let’s just assume you will go walk the Main Street and drop in whatever you find that interests you.
Outside of downtown in Gordonsville, there is Floridise Orchids. You pass it just before you reach the traffic circle, up on the hill on your right. This is well worth the stop. The owners are real pros and the orchids are wonderful.
There are several additional antique places just south of downtown Gordonsville on Highway 15. There’s an antiques mall just on the edge of town down there.
The most unique shop in Orange is Moseby’s Antiques, which specializes in Civil War items. It is more like a museum than a store. The hours are somewhat unpredictable. It is on Main Street down toward the railroad tracks. Don’t miss it.
As with Gordonsville, if you go to downtown Orange you will surely walk Main Street and find all the little shops. There are several antique shops and gift shops, and the Orange County Arts Council gallery. The place for lunch for shoppers is Wise Guys or The Light Well.
You should stop by the tourist information center in the old train station in Orange to get more ideas on things you might like to do while in the area.
The historic downtown is the place for specialty shopping in Charlottesville. It has everything: antiques, art, children’s museum, coffee shops, you name it. This is a lively place to be, particularly on week-end nights.
For ideas on nightlife, music, special events and other entertainment, pick up a copy of the Charlottesville Hook in Gordonsville at the Food Lion.
The historic downtown in Culpeper is sort of a Gordonsville times 10, when it comes to antiques, gifts, clothes, neat shoppes, etc. It is about a 30 minute drive north on Highway 15.
Ruckersville is the place for antique buffs. It is about a 25 minute drive, straight up Highway 33 from the Gordonsville traffic circle.
Need a Wal-Mart or a Lowes? They are at Zion Crossroads at the intersection of Highway 15 and I-64. Just follow Highway 15 south through Gordonsville and you will be there in about 15 minutes.
There’s a tourist information center in the Best Western at Zion. You may want to stop in there for other ideas on things to do in the area.
There is a farmers market in Orange each Saturday morning. In cold weather, it is in the old train station.
Yoder Farm Store in Madison is very upscale and has a large variety of interesting farm and locally produced products.
The restaurant choices in Gordonsville are OUTSTANDING, far better than you have any right to expect in such a small village.
Le Pomme is an authentic French restaurant in downtown Gordonsville. It receives rave reviews from people who know great cuisine. It’s a bit expensive, but you should at least try lunch there.
Fabio’s is much better than you would guess from the exterior. Its in the Food Lion Shopping Center on Route 231 South. A family from Naples, Italy owns Fabios, and different family members rotate to the U.S. to handle the kitchen duties. The food is unbelievable, particularly if you order from the daily specials board. The pasta is homemade daily. The pizza and calzones are much better than the chains provide, but the entrees are what you should try. Everyone knows about Le Pomme and the Barbeque Exchange, but you will find the locals who are in the know at Fabios.
Right next to Fabio's is a new offshoot of Le Pomme. It is sort of a deli that features home delivery of gourmet meals, as well as take-out.
The Barbeque Exchange is right on Main Street at the edge of town. The owner is a chef at Keswick Hall, so as you might expect, this is not your usual barbeque joint. You do not need to dress up for dinner to fit in here. This place has become very popular, and sometimes you will have trouble finding a place to park. It has been named "Best Bar-b-que Place in Virginia" by several publications.
The Inwood is a traditional roadhouse, where you are likely to see highway patrol cars, pick-up trucks, and other work vehicles. Former White House chef Jack Haney, who lives nearby, says he has enjoyed some of the best steaks ever at the Inwood. The burgers are massive. The atmosphere is more laid back, shall we say, giving you an authentic roadhouse experience. You pass the Inwood as you drive into Gordonsville, on your left just before the traffic circle.
China Restaurant, in the Food Lion Shopping Center, is your typical Chinese take-out place. When you want Chinese food, there it is.
The choices are better in Gordonsville, but if you are heading to Orange for other reasons, here are the restaurant recommendations.
La Finka is a new restaurant that is on your right at the corner of a strip shopping center as you enter Orange on Highway 15. It is NOT a Mexican restaurant. It is Peruvian, and quite upscale. It is winning rave reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The one time I tried it, the food was great.
There are several new places on the main street of Orange, including The Light Well, which also has a bar and a coffee bar, and Wise Guys, an upscale burger place. Very pleasant surroundings.
Silk Mill Grill is on Route 15 on the far side of Orange, just before the Sheetz. Its big and can be noisy, but the food is good American fare.
Real Food is right on Highway 15 across from the Comfort Inn. This is a lunch only place, and the food is outstanding.
Mario’s is at the end of Main Street past the railroad tracks. The buffet gets dried out and is not so great, but if you order off the menu you can get very good southern Italian food.
Country Cookin’ is in a shopping center on your left as you are reaching Orange. Look for the Tractor Supply as a landmark. Country Cookin’ is a country buffet where the vegetables are the stars. It is the best country food you are likely to find. You will not go away hungry.
The Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Winery is out of my league. I think only read food experts belong there. Guests have told me that they had the best meal of their lives there, and these were people who had obviously been to a lot of fine restaurants. Check it out on the web, and be sure to call ahead for what is on the schedule. Dinner is five or more courses. More limited lunch menu.
Electronic Equipment, the Trash, Etc.
There are TV’s in the James Room, the Bunk Room, the Suite, and the den at the Manor House. Some of them are antiques and have digital converters attached. Once you turn on the TV and the converter, you change channels with the remote for the converter. You should have about a dozen local channels.
Each TV also has a DVD player and VHS player. There are movies in the den and living room at the Manor House and in each of the cottages and at Baldy's.
The TV's in the Servants’ Cottage, Milker's Cottage and Baldy's Retreat are newer and do not use a digital converter. In the Servants' Cottage, Milker's Cottage and in the bedroom TV at Baldy's, the DVD players are built in; the slot for inserting the DVD’s is either at the top, on the right, or on the side.
There are three mobile hot spots. One usually stays at the Manor House in the main kitchen. The other two are moved among the houses as needed. These hot spots deliver high speed internet access, and are more than adequate for normal online browsing, emailing, etc. ONLINE VIDEO AND GAMING IS ANOTHER MATTER! See below.
The data plans that are available at our location do not allow us to purchase "unlimited data". We pay for 25 gigs of data per billing period on our plan. which is quite a lot. During normal operations when we have mostly adults staying at the farm, this is never a problem. Around the holidays or at other times when we have lots of young people who live online, the 25 gigs of "high speed" can get used up, and we then have "low speed" internet. A couple of people streaming video, playing online electronic games and downloading movies can run through a gig of data in an hour or two. So we ask that you download your movies at home and bring them with you.
If there were better alternatives available, we would have them. The farm cannot get cable service or DSL service because of its distance from those services, and only AT&T and Verizon provide good signals to the farm. Neither of them offer unlimited data plans for mobile hot spots.
You are free to use the washers and dryers at the Pond House, the Milker's Cottage, the Barn Apartment, Baldy's Retreat, and in the basement of the Manor House. If you are in the Servants' Cottage and need to use a washer/dryer, check with Tina on when you can get to the ones in the Manor House basement.
The trash carts for the Manor House are behind the dairy shed (the little building by the patio). One cart stays around behind the Pond House, one by the parking for the Servants' Cottage and one behind the Milker's Cottage for your convenience. We do not have a cart for Baldy's or the Barn Apartment yet. The staff will often haul your trash bags if you leave them on the back porch of the Manor House. Our big commercial dumpster is at the working end of the Pavilion, and you are free to use it.
We have eliminated the land lines at the houses since no one used them anyway.
Tina is at 540-222-0414. Kenny Whitlock is at 540-672-8698. Keith can be reached by calling the main farm number, 540-832-1803.
The address of the farm for emergency purposes is 17379 Wolftrap Drive, Gordonsville, VA 22942. The Milker's Cottage address is 17305 Wolftrap Drive. Baldy's is 17556 Wolftrap Drive. Emergency personnel will know how to find it. As elsewhere, to reach emergency responders, call 911.
The closest hospitals are in Charlottesville. There is a medical clinic in Orange north of town on Highway 15. There are pharmacies in Gordonsville and in Orange.
Brief History of Wolf Trap Farm:
The farm now consists of 584 acres, about half woods and half pasture. The land was owned by James Madison during the late 1700’s, before anything was built on it. In 1856, the Scott family built the front part of the Manor House as a “duplex”, and several barns on the property and the “Servants Cottage” date from that same time period.
The Scott family was in residence until the early 1900’s, when the Sidlinger family took over. They added the back “El” to the Manor House (the dining room, kitchen and upstairs servant’s quarters that is now the Suite).
In the early 1940’s the farm became a modern dairy. That is when the bell-roofed barn, the dairy shed, and the Milker's Cottage were built. You might enjoy looking in the Dairy Shed to see the milk cooling trough and notice the shallow well under the Dairy Shed.
The Von Wulffen family acquired the farm in the early 1970’s and named it Wolf Trap Farm. This name was taken from the Wolf Trap Branch, a creek that originates back in the woods of the farm, and that name fit nicely with the Von Wulffen family name. The Von Wulfens were a titled German family who lost their ancestral estates in eastern Germany when the Soviet Union took over that portion of Germany at the close of WWII. After some years in Iran, they moved to Virginia and raised their family here. After the reunification of Germany, the Von Wulfens returned to Germany to reclaim their ancestral estates.
The Cuthrell family, from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, acquired the farm in 2003, rebuilt the buildings, listed the property on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, and opened the Manor House and Pond House to paying guests. The stables were put back in order and have served as home base for various equestrian competitors and trainers. The Servants’ Cottage was renovated and became an additional guest house in 2012. Part of the Equipment Barn was turned into the Pavilion in 2014 to host wedding receptions and other events. In 2015, the Milker's Cottage was changed from a tenant house to be another vacation rental home. In 2016, Baldy's Retreat was added. In early 2017, the former tack room and lounge of the big barn were converted into the Barn Apartment.
Keith Cuthrell is a lawyer and business owner who has rejuvenated a number of historic properties. Keith still practices law a bit with a prominent Virginia firm, focusing on business law. He spends a limited amount of his time at the farm overseeing its operations and enjoying the lifestyle of the area. He handles the reservations and most of the emailing and marketing for the farm. His wife, Deborah, helps run some of the family's other properties. They have three adult children and six grandchildren.
The Owner, Keith Cuthrell, handles the emails and calls for reservations at the farm from wherever he might be when the emails and phone calls arrive.
Tina Atkins is hostess and head of housekeeping. Kenny Whitlock, David Strick and Christina Turner handle maintenance at the farm, as well as at another property in the area owned by the Cuthrell family. Kenny also owns the cattle you see at the farm.
Also, Kenny and Tina live just outside the back gate of the farm. They are literally the farm's closest neighbors.
The people you will see working with the horses are not farm employees. They have their own independent operation at the barns, which they rent from the farm.