Flagpole/Second Mountain Run

A group of vehicles parked on a gravel road

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Wheeling in the dark is always an adventure and this trip proved no different as the only constant is change.  This started as a two-part trip with an afternoon of exploring the GWNF north of Flagpole followed by a night run down either Union Springs or Briery Branch Rd. Seems the trip took a turn even before we started.

In route to the rally point at Skidmore Lake, Jendra lost a serpentine belt and rendered his Jeep toast.  Some of us stopped where the Jeep broke down to help figure out a plan. Taking a cue from the Grand Tour, we decided to leave Jendra to fend for himself and we continued on. (Actually, it wasn’t all that heartless as we waited until Jendra confirmed a tow.)

A person lifting a car on a flatbed trailer

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We met up at Skidmore Lake at 1:00 PM to reformulate a plan and decided to limit the trip to the day run and explore the recently opened Vepco Road. We aired our tires down and proceeded to hit the trail.


  • Brian – Jeep Wrangler
  • Michael R – Ford Bronco
  • Jeff – Land Rover Defender

We had a nice mix of vehicles that almost looked like a Road and Track showdown between Jeep, Bronco and Defender. Once on the trail, we found it to be a bit on the wet side from the rains the night before. The upside is that it kept the dust down!

A group of men taking a selfie

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We headed west about 5 ½ miles along RT 33 to the trailhead which is marked by a Forest Service Shooting Range sign. The trail was a bit slippery from the rain and mud, and a few places proved to be on the rocky side, but nothing too challenging. What was particularly fun were the many stream crossings we took with speed to see who could make the biggest splash. Not sure if there was a winner in that category, but Brian with his wider tires and trimmed down fenders definitely won the muddiest category.

A dirty jeep parked on gravel

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A trail ride with the CORE group wouldn’t be complete without missing a turn and in our case, not only did we miss it once, but missed the turnout a second time as we doubled back. 

Once we made our way to Vepco Road, we discovered that the nature of the trail changed from this point on. The trail becomes a course gravel road with some really nice vistas.

A cable car in the middle of a forest

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Vepco Rd eventually dumped us back out on Long Run Road where with great trepidation, we passed “Ben’s Corner”. Thankfully, all three of us managed to keep the shiny side up.

With a small group we were able to keep up a fairly good pace and completed the 50-mile trip in about 4 hours. We stopped at the Gospel Hill Mennonite Church where we could air our tires back up and chat before heading out. A few of us went back into town and visited a local watering hole that we’ve enjoyed in the past, the Woodstock Brewhouse. After some good food and great company, we wrapped up a another great “night run”!

A map with a route

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Trail Report written by Jeff Kohler. Pictures contributed by Jeff Kohler. GPS track provided by Jeff Kohler. Jendra’s ride back home provided by AAA.

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