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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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~
 

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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!
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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. :(
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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?
 

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WillWorkForTrail
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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?
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.
 

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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

web-3716.jpg web-4167.jpg
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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.
 

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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.
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.
 

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I am the owl
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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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yelgatgab
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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.
 

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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

View attachment 1080086 View attachment 1080087
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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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.

IMG_1204.JPG
 

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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.
 

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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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yelgatgab
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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.
 
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