It has been a tradition here in CORE that we start the New Year out with a trail ride. In honor of one of our past members, Keith Holman, we hold a trail ride on New Year’s Day because Keith’s grandmother had a belief that whatever you did on New Year’s Day you would do for the rest of the year. So to that end we try and plan a simple ride close to home. As I learned “close to home” has different meanings depending on your prospective. I was trying to find a trail that CORE had not done in a while and was still doable as a day ride for stock vehicles. So I choose a ride to Second Mountain in the GWNF. Depending on weather conditions, this trail is usually stocker friendly and mostly scenic in nature.
We had two meeting spots for the day’s activities. The first was in Manassas. After everyone meeting there arrived, we were off to our second meeting spot at the Sheetz in Harrisonburg. In past years we had the store to ourselves, but this year everybody seemed to show up at the same time. It took a little while for everyone to gas up and get their food before we hit the trail. Before we left I had a quick driver meeting to give basic directions and plans for the day. I did not know if the southern gate would be open or not, so I decided to do the trail from the north to the south.
Once there we got out and awed at the view as we had a perfect day for looking in all directions.
Attendees for the day included:
- Bob Weaver
- Larry & Berna Pope & granddaughter Alexis
- Jay Nokkeo
- Jeff Miller
- Robert Rixham & guest Shelley Fitch
- Andrew & Cherie Taylor & guest Kathryn Taylor
- JC & Susan Campos
After leaving the Sheetz and traveling through town we were finally getting close to the trail head. I had not been this way in many years, but I was able to head directly to the trail head behind the church. After a very brief stop to let folks air down and disconnect if desired, we were off on our adventure. Our first order of business was to climb up to Second Mountain via Long Run Road. This Forest Service trail has several switch backs as it climbs up to meet at the top with Second Mountain Trail. Along the way we passed several hunting dogs, and we were all wondering where they had come from. Soon we had our answer as the forest was alive with hunters. I usually try and avoid the National Forests during hunting season, but totally forgot about it for New Year’s Day. With all the traffic along Second Mountain it made for a slow trip waiting for several hunters to move their vehicles so that we could pass. The trail had several spots with water and ice along the way and a few of them surprised me as to how deep they were. Temperatures were above freezing this day. So as we drove along we ended up breaking the ice as we went.
When we got to Second Mountain Trail we made the left and headed south along the ridge line. I would describe the trail as rocky and muddy but doable by stock rigs. Soon we reached the parking lot for the ATV’s and the turn for Dictum Ridge. We would have to save Dictum Ridge for another day as we pressed on. The Forest Service along this part of the trail has blocked off many parts along the side of the trail with signage to stay on the trail. So we stayed on the trail. While on the trail we encountered several more water puddles with ice floating in them. I ended up twisting my fog lamps and bending my front license plate during one of these crossings. You have to respect ice as it has done damage to my Jeep before. However, I only heard of one other carnage story during this trip so I will say that we had success with today’s trail.
As we came down the mountain we were greeted with an open gate at the southern end of the trail. After a brief discussion I learned that several folks had never been to Flag Pole Knob. So off we went to Flagpole. As we turned right on Rt. 33 Jay had to go home so he made the left on Rt.33 and headed back to town. By this time a few folks wanted to eat lunch, so I thought that we could stop at the local park and eat. As I made the turn to enter the park I noticed the gate was closed. I had to turn around and get everyone else that followed me to turn around also.
Off we went to Skidmore Fork Road. We went down past Switzer Lake and dam and had our lunch at the first stream crossing. After everyone had finished, we saddled back up and headed up the trail. Once again we encountered hunters along the trail. At one point we had to stop and wait while their dogs chased game close to the road. (I did not want to get shot at today). When we got the go ahead we continued along the trail up to Flagpole Knob.Once there we got out and awed at the view as we had a perfect day for looking in all directions. By this time it was getting late in the day, and we all decided that we should pick the fastest way back to town before we lost daylight and had to contend with black ice. So off we continued along the trail until we met pavement. Soon we were back at the Sheetz to say our good-byes. That concluded a long fun day in the woods with friends. I hope that everyone that went had as much fun as I did.
Trail report written by Bob Weaver. Pictures courtesy of Larry Pope and Kathryn Taylor.