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  1. #1
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    Heading down to Stokesville VA to camp and ride...

    Any suggestions as to which trails I should try?

    Ideally I'd like to stay on a trail that is a loop (if there are any) This way it's harder for me to get lost. Also since I plan on riding for 2 days I don't want to waste too much energy on one trail system. Maybe 10-12 miles per trail.(Ideally)

    Thanks~

  2. #2
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    Most rides will consist of road (either paved or gravel) to climb (either gravel forest road or double track), then ridge/downhill singletrack. There really isn't a trail system. It's just individual trails that have to be connected via roads to link up a loop.

    My personal fav is Hankey/Dowells Draft. Chestnut Ridge is great too, just requires quite a bit more forest road/doubletrack grinding to get to the top. Wolf Ridge, Lookout, Ramsey's Draft, Narrowback (best option for looping) are all bangers too.

    Ride with a local or have a map (Nat. Geo). This area is true back country and you need to know where you are going (road/trail names & numbers). It isn't a small state forest or county park where you can wander your way out of.

    Explore and have fun. It's some of the best riding on the east coast!

  3. #3
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    ^^ There's not a bad ride in that list. Def. get a map though, because there are a lot of trails, and a lot intersections. Short of getting lost and dying, though, there's pretty much no way you can have a bad ride in that area.

  4. #4
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    I'll be heading down in a few weeks. Pick up a map. Narrowback is nice. Lookout starts with a long climb but everything after that is all worth it. Wolf Ridge, Braley's Pond, Reddish Knob are all good. Really nothing bad down there. Massanutten is also very good but you need a day pass. Enjoy. I'm sure you will want to head back there again.
    LOVE THE RIDE!

  5. #5
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    Awesome thanks so much everyone~

    I didn't know about the fire roads/gravel to link up to the trails. I'll ask Stokesville lodge if they have maps but I do use MTB Projects app on my iPhone which may help in case I get lost.

    I'm interested in Dowells and narrowback and can't wait to hit these trails this weekend~~

    I brought some food but I'm hoping there's a restaurant or deli nearby I can get some real cooked meals from.

    Going alone sucks and I wish I could go with my friends but they all work weekends unfortunately and can't get off. If I hold off going on these MTB trips for my friends I might as well wait forever.

  6. #6
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    This is the map you need. 791 Staunton, Shenandoah Mountain (George Washington and Jefferson National Forests) Trail Map - National Geographic Store

    Having the topo, trail names/numbers, rivers, gates, etc. is invaluable. Strongly suggest you pick one up, phone or not.

    Local Blue Ridge Outdoors stores (Charlottesville, Richmond), or REI's in the area (Richmond) sell them. Shenandoah Bicycle Co. (Harrisonburg) may have them as well.

    Once out in the George Washington, closest real restaurants would be in Bridgewater, maybe Churchville. Convenience stores are closer, but it's just junkfood (candy, chips, soda, trucker hats) at those shops.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wi1trackrider View Post
    This is the map you need. 791 Staunton, Shenandoah Mountain (George Washington and Jefferson National Forests) Trail Map - National Geographic Store

    Having the topo, trail names/numbers, rivers, gates, etc. is invaluable. Strongly suggest you pick one up, phone or not.

    Local Blue Ridge Outdoors stores (Charlottesville, Richmond), or REI's in the area (Richmond) sell them. Shenandoah Bicycle Co. (Harrisonburg) may have them as well.

    Once out in the George Washington, closest real restaurants would be in Bridgewater, maybe Churchville. Convenience stores are closer, but it's just junkfood (candy, chips, soda, trucker hats) at those shops.

    Thanks for the tips~ Yeah I figured the convenience stores wouldn't have much just what you would normally find at a gas station. I'll have to do a bit of driving then to get a proper meal. I am bringing camping food 6 packs total each about 700-800 calories not to mention my cliff bars. So 2 proper meals per day will be enough even with all the riding.

    As for the map book do they have this in digital format? I can't bring this book with me but I will pick one up for future adventures.

  8. #8
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    Does anyone know if lookout mountain loop is a single track through the woods type trail or is it more just like a dirt road type trail?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiquidSpin View Post
    Does anyone know if lookout mountain loop is a single track through the woods type trail or is it more just like a dirt road type trail?
    The Lookout trail, proper, is a fantastic descent. Single track through the woods. It's the sort of thing that makes me stare off into space dreaming about as I'm trying to type this. There are at least two ways up to the top, and I think a brand new third way, but if you're staying at the Lodge, Chris Scott can hook you up with all the 411 on that - the new way should be all single track if I've been understanding the rumors floating out of the area. Unfortunately, I won't have a chance to check it out for myself til I'm back in the area in December.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    The Lookout trail, proper, is a fantastic descent. Single track through the woods. It's the sort of thing that makes me stare off into space dreaming about as I'm trying to type this. There are at least two ways up to the top, and I think a brand new third way, but if you're staying at the Lodge, Chris Scott can hook you up with all the 411 on that - the new way should be all single track if I've been understanding the rumors floating out of the area. Unfortunately, I won't have a chance to check it out for myself til I'm back in the area in December.
    I believe you're referring to the Wild Oak/Dowells relocation that my company recently completed. Just to clarify, while you would gain a lot of the elevation on singletrack, it would also entail riding the whole Hankey Mtn road over to lookout, as well as a bunch of gravel to get back to where you started at the bottom. Definitely possible, but I just wanted to manage your expectations as the Hankey summit is a few miles of gravel away from the Lookout summit.

    What I would suggest is to do one ride on Lookout from the lodge as a loop. You could add in grindstone, trimble mtn, or narrowback if you wanted more.

    To check out Dowells, I would suggest doing the "new" version this way:

    Park at Wild Oak Trailhead on FR 96.>climb new Wild Oak across the gravel rd, can't miss it.>after about 2 miles you will take a right onto Dowells Draft connector aka "magic moss">climb sexy singletrack for another mile to junction of old/new Dowells>Take left on the new Dowells and continue to climb for another mile, stopping at the sweet overlook>summit is 1/4 mile past the overlook, turn around where it starts going downhill>rip Dowells Draft downhill for 4 unforgettable miles.>Take a right on gravel to ride back to Wild Oak trailhead.

    Should take about 3 hrs at a casual pace. New trail is a different style than lookout. Faster and a bit less technical, but still lots of rock work was done.

    Lots of pictures here

    Some maps and description of our project and the 5 other ones here

    Heading down to Stokesville VA to camp and ride...-web-3716.jpgHeading down to Stokesville VA to camp and ride...-web-4167.jpg

  11. #11
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    Mueller, i've already ridden lookout by way of the paved road climb followed by the dirt road climb to the top. If i wanted to check out dowell's and was coming from harrisonburg, how would i get to wild oak trailhead? The gf and i are coming down the 22 from pa, and looking for some new stuff to ride.
    LOVE THE RIDE!

  12. #12
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    These trails are so EPIC~ I plan on coming back to ride these trails again. I seriously, need to check out the other trail systems.

    So much fun but MY GOD the climbs are so BRUTAL.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker64 View Post
    Mueller, i've already ridden lookout by way of the paved road climb followed by the dirt road climb to the top. If i wanted to check out dowell's and was coming from harrisonburg, how would i get to wild oak trailhead? The gf and i are coming down the 22 from pa, and looking for some new stuff to ride.
    Wild Oak Trailhead is on Braley Pond rd. An easy way to get to it would be take 250 out of Staunton and turn right on Braley Pond rd, go a few miles and you can't miss it. Or just park at the bottom of Dowells at 250/braley pond junction and do the same loop from there.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Mueller- View Post
    I believe you're referring to the Wild Oak/Dowells relocation that my company recently completed. Just to clarify, while you would gain a lot of the elevation on singletrack, it would also entail riding the whole Hankey Mtn road over to lookout, as well as a bunch of gravel to get back to where you started at the bottom. Definitely possible, but I just wanted to manage your expectations as the Hankey summit is a few miles of gravel away from the Lookout summit.
    If you start at the Wild Oak Parking Lot on FR95, you can take the North River Gorge trail all the way out to the campground at the bottom of Hankey Mt. fire road. More scenic and avoids the pavement. Climb Hankey, over to Lookout and finish at the Wild Oak PL.
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  15. #15
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    Even with the Nat. Geo maps, navigating GWNF can be difficult. I have the maps, but I much prefer MTB Project for well established rides. Having both is ideal, particularly if you're doing a non-recorded route or want to do some exploring, but you can get by without the paper maps no problem. SVBC has done an excellent job with that area. You could almost get by on the descriptions alone.

    North River Gorge trail is a good alternative to the road, but be prepared for wet feet and a horse encounter or two. If I'm doing Lookout, my preference is to start at Stokesville Campground and climb the fire road at the back of the campground up to the singletrack that joins Lookout. It's a steep climb, but I'll take that over the road ride every time.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Mueller- View Post
    I believe you're referring to the Wild Oak/Dowells relocation that my company recently completed. Just to clarify, while you would gain a lot of the elevation on singletrack, it would also entail riding the whole Hankey Mtn road over to lookout, as well as a bunch of gravel to get back to where you started at the bottom. Definitely possible, but I just wanted to manage your expectations as the Hankey summit is a few miles of gravel away from the Lookout summit.

    What I would suggest is to do one ride on Lookout from the lodge as a loop. You could add in grindstone, trimble mtn, or narrowback if you wanted more.

    To check out Dowells, I would suggest doing the "new" version this way:

    Park at Wild Oak Trailhead on FR 96.>climb new Wild Oak across the gravel rd, can't miss it.>after about 2 miles you will take a right onto Dowells Draft connector aka "magic moss">climb sexy singletrack for another mile to junction of old/new Dowells>Take left on the new Dowells and continue to climb for another mile, stopping at the sweet overlook>summit is 1/4 mile past the overlook, turn around where it starts going downhill>rip Dowells Draft downhill for 4 unforgettable miles.>Take a right on gravel to ride back to Wild Oak trailhead.

    Should take about 3 hrs at a casual pace. New trail is a different style than lookout. Faster and a bit less technical, but still lots of rock work was done.

    Lots of pictures here

    Some maps and description of our project and the 5 other ones here

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Finally made it out to check out the new work on Wild Oak / Dowells. Absolutely amazing! We did a "figure 8" of sorts:

    Braley Pond up FR95 >> Wild Oak Trail >> Betsy Trail (aka Magic Moss) >> to top of Dowells >> Hankey Mtn >> Lookout Mountain >> FR95 >> Leading Ridge Rd >> Hankey Mtn Trail >> Dowells Draft >> Braley Pond.

    It was about 36 miles. The new work climbing up to Dowells and beyond is awesome. Lookout Mtn is such a rocky treat. The push (literally at times) back up Hankey Mtn trail toward Dowells was a grunt but ending the day descending the new trail above Dowells followed by Dowells proper was glorious and worth every bit of it.

    Huge props to SVBC and Elevated Trail Designs!
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  17. #17
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    Rode everything but Chestnut Ridge when I was in the area a few days ago. It's been a while since I've been in the GWNF. Awesome! Love the long descents.

    The new Wild Oak reroute up to Betsy is great. Great way to eliminate the boring forest road up Hankey. Once I got to the top of Betsy I hung a left and rode the new upper Hankey section to the top, continued on to the old Hankey for about another 1/4 mile. Does anyone know if the trail work rerouted around the grassy climb that you encounter at the end of Hankey Mtn. road (after the last gate)? That was a beast of a climb. Looked like the trailwork stopped at end of the most recent reroute - when riding up from Betsy.

    Wolf Ridge trail keeps getting better and better. Rode it from the Lynn intersection down to Tilman Rd. New section was fun. Like the all the rock armoring. Before the major reroute, the spot improvements were nice as well. Would have liked to seen rideable reroutes around the 3? small pinnacles. Kind of a buzzkill to have to dismount and do a short hike-a-bike. Not complaining, just surprised they left those in when it seemed all the trailwork was to make the trail more bike-able. The small hike-a-bike sections do help the trail keep that back country feel. Do riders actually ride up Wolf Ridge and down Lynn? When climbing Lynn some of the trailwork and wear on the trail would lead me to believe that. Might be fun, but think Wolf is much better going down.

    Heading down to Stokesville VA to camp and ride...-img_1204.jpg

  18. #18
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    I think most of the downhill traffic on Lynn comes from folks that ride Timber Ridge down from Reddish and take a L on Lynn and down to 924.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by wi1trackrider View Post
    The new Wild Oak reroute up to Betsy is great. Great way to eliminate the boring forest road up Hankey. Once I got to the top of Betsy I hung a left and rode the new upper Hankey section to the top, continued on to the old Hankey for about another 1/4 mile. Does anyone know if the trail work rerouted around the grassy climb that you encounter at the end of Hankey Mtn. road (after the last gate)? That was a beast of a climb. Looked like the trailwork stopped at end of the most recent reroute - when riding up from Betsy.
    If I understand your question, the answer is no. Once you transition to the old singletrack above Dowells that is currently the end of the new trail work. Once the singletrack transitions to fire road, Hankey Mtn is a rocking good descent (as far as fire roads go) down toward Lookout Mountain. The ride back up is still a grunt / H-A-B.

    Check out details of our route here.
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  20. #20
    yelgatgab
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    Quote Originally Posted by wi1trackrider View Post
    Wolf Ridge trail keeps getting better and better. Rode it from the Lynn intersection down to Tilman Rd.
    Next time, turn right and ride/hike up to Timber and do all of Wolf. There are a couple rowdy sections before Lynn, including a really fun double drop to kicker that I think is worth the climb.

  21. #21
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    Lots of information. I just visited there two weeks ago for the first time. Narrowback and the Douthat IMBA epic. I'm coming back first week in May and staying at Douthat. Wondering about Fore trail and Little Mare trail both coming out of the park into national forest. Wondering how well these are maintained especially early spring? Anyone ridden these? Also looking at North Mountain Trail starting in middle and riding north.

  22. #22
    CrgCrkRyder
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    Quote Originally Posted by JudsonBelmont View Post
    Lots of information. I just visited there two weeks ago for the first time. Narrowback and the Douthat IMBA epic. I'm coming back first week in May and staying at Douthat. Wondering about Fore trail and Little Mare trail both coming out of the park into national forest. Wondering how well these are maintained especially early spring? Anyone ridden these? Also looking at North Mountain Trail starting in middle and riding north.
    Fore from Douthat down to the Clifton Forge Reservoir should be passable but rough. From 606 to the top of Fore Mountain is probably still a mess. Last I heard Little Mare is quite grown over. We clean off Brushy for the race in May but it stays a mess much of the year from the controlled burn a few years back. Middle Mountain will be passable but thick. Which North mountain? There are several. Lots of great trails in the area but very few volunteers to work on them. There are some moves in the right direction looming but we will see how that pans out.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bagtagley View Post
    Next time, turn right and ride/hike up to Timber and do all of Wolf. There are a couple rowdy sections before Lynn, including a really fun double drop to kicker that I think is worth the climb.
    Went back in mid October for a few more days of camping and riding. Was originally planning on WNC, but hurricane Changed those plans.

    On this trip I got shuttled up to the top of Reddish. (Actually wanted to show GF views from summit, so piggybacked on top of that). Took Timber down to Wolf for the combo descent. Timber was much better than last time I rode it back in '09 or so. Was in good condition. Section you're referring to was good - from Sand Spring to Lynn. Steep, some techy areas, but very rideable.

    Wolf was again very fun. Followed/chased a bear down the new section for a 100' or so until it decided to jump off the single track.

    Lots of good riding in that area!

  24. #24
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    Are these trails still open and in decent condition this time of year? I might be passing through for a few days around December 1st. Thanks for any comments!

  25. #25
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    These trails typically weather pretty well, especially the rockier ones. As dry as it's been there, I wouldn't think a little rain would be a problem at all.

  26. #26
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    Trails should be fine. You may want to bring a blaze orange vest, still quite a bit of hunting season left (back to bear and black powder I think).

  27. #27
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    I was just wondering how Fore Mtn might be. I have still never descended it, although I foolishly climbed it from McGraw up to a Stony Run one time. So do you think it would be decent from Stony down to McGraw and then backtrack McGraw into Douthat?

    Regarding your comment about moves in the right direction, I was just reading about the Bennet Bill. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

  28. #28
    CrgCrkRyder
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleetwood View Post
    I was just wondering how Fore Mtn might be. I have still never descended it, although I foolishly climbed it from McGraw up to a Stony Run one time. So do you think it would be decent from Stony down to McGraw and then backtrack McGraw into Douthat?

    Regarding your comment about moves in the right direction, I was just reading about the Bennet Bill. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

    It will be kind of rough, but still good. Going downhill you can roll a lot of the loose stuff and small trees. Leaves on the second downhill may be your biggest problem.

    I love that downhill. It is really 2 downhills with one climb in between them. Take the Douthat connector back to Douthat if you can. Best way is to go all the way out to the gate and hang a left on McGraw Loop I think it is called. A right takes you to the paved road. The connector is at the apex of the loop. It is one of the better trails the Boy Scouts built a few years back.

    On a positive note, there is quite a bit of discussion ongoing for trailwork projects between mountain bikers and the Forest Service. I really have high hopes for this. A new guy moved to town and works at Jack Masons Tavern, he has already been involved with trail improvements on the McGraw Horse trail. A plug for that place, great food good atmosphere and good beer. The owners are also pro mountain bike (although neither bikes), mini-brewery is coming soon too.

  29. #29
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigCreekRider View Post
    It will be kind of rough, but still good. Going downhill you can roll a lot of the loose stuff and small trees. Leaves on the second downhill may be your biggest problem.

    I love that downhill. It is really 2 downhills with one climb in between them. Take the Douthat connector back to Douthat if you can. Best way is to go all the way out to the gate and hang a left on McGraw Loop I think it is called. A right takes you to the paved road. The connector is at the apex of the loop. It is one of the better trails the Boy Scouts built a few years back.

    On a positive note, there is quite a bit of discussion ongoing for trailwork projects between mountain bikers and the Forest Service. I really have high hopes for this. A new guy moved to town and works at Jack Masons Tavern, he has already been involved with trail improvements on the McGraw Horse trail. A plug for that place, great food good atmosphere and good beer. The owners are also pro mountain bike (although neither bikes), mini-brewery is coming soon too.
    We always hit up Jack Mason's when in the area, so that is good to hear!

    We've been out on the McGraw trail a couple of times, but not sure what is considered the Connector. However we did it exits/enters Douthat at the bottom of Stony Run
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  30. #30
    CrgCrkRyder
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleetwood View Post
    We always hit up Jack Mason's when in the area, so that is good to hear!

    We've been out on the McGraw trail a couple of times, but not sure what is considered the Connector. However we did it exits/enters Douthat at the bottom of Stony Run
    Yes that is the connector

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