Peter’s Mill, Tasker’s Gap, and Luray Caverns

The trails near Edinburg may not be the most aggressive off-roading experience – but they are a great excuse to spend a Saturday in the great outdoors! Tasker’s Gap and Peter’s Mill are short runs but they provide plenty of entertainment and fresh air. And it has almost become a tradition to pair the trails with a fun local outing! This time around we decided to wrap the day up with a trip to Luray Caverns and a good time was had by all.

We dubbed this the “non-jeepers, silver vehicle run”!

    Participants:

  • Andrew Taylor (CORE Member), Cherie Taylor (CORE Member), and Bob Taylor (Guest) – Silver Xterra
  • Robert Rixham (CORE Member) and Shelley Fitch (Guest) – Silver 4Runner
  • Kevin Barnes (Guest) and Tyler – Silver Land Rover

We established two meeting locations for this trip; the Wendy’s in Manassas provides a great stopping point for everyone heading south – and that happened to be where everyone met around 9:00 am Saturday morning. Two hours later our small caravan pulled into the Exxon station in Woodstock to gas up, grab any last minute snacks (beef jerky!), and purchase the permits needed to wheel on local trails. $5/driver and we were on our way!

We decided to take the scenic route and bypass the highway. On our way out of town we saw a small group of boy scouts were having a car wash. We joked that we should come back through town on our way out and get our money’s worth!

It’s about 30 minutes up the backside of the mountain filled with sharp turns and switchbacks. Although a good portion was paved, it was quite an adventure. On one of the narrow passes we came up on another vehicle – one of those land yachts – whose driver insisted we could pass her. We all three managed to squeeze by, but I’m not sure we even kept all 4 tires on the ground for that one. We joked over the CB, “Was that crazy person a man or a woman?” and Robert chimed back with, “I think it was Pat from Saturday Night Live!” We continued our way up the mountain with no further incident. With each turn you were greeted with fantastic views of the valley below – farm lands, trees, and the North Fork Shenandoah River snaking back and forth. It was quite a ride!

We arrived at the north Peter’s Mill trailhead first. They have a small parking lot where we all pulled in to chat and air down a bit. The trails certainly don’t require airing down, but it’s always a bonus to have a cushy seat. It’s here we noticed that all three vehicles matched! We dubbed this the “non-jeepers, silver vehicle run”! It was a beautiful day and it definitely showed in the number of bikes and ATVs we ran into on the trails. Even before setting off on Peter’s Mill we had to wait for a large group of motor bikes to finish up their ride. We started off on the trails and were having a great time – but it wasn’t too long before we ran into a slight problem. Andrew’s Xterra had just gotten a complete overhaul with a Titan swap and 4 inches of lift. This was the first run since all of the work had been done and he was eager to test it out. He switched it over to 4 wheel drive and that’s when we heard it…click – click – click – click…..Uh oh! We pulled off into a mud clearing and all hopped out of our vehicles. We spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to diagnose the issue. We probably looked extremely silly while Andrew slowly drove in circles around the clearing with a group of people following, staring into the wheel well. The final diagnosis was that it was coming from the driver’s front wheel well and that it only seemed to happen in 4 Hi/Low. So we decided that since it was an easier set of trails we would just stay in 2WD for the rest of the run until it could make it back to the shop. That aside, the new suspension did its job so the lift was not a total loss!

At noon on the dot we came to a small pond on the trail and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for lunch. Even though a group of ATVers had taken the prime spot, we managed to find a decent sitting spot and had some lunch.

We finished up Peter’s Mill and jumped over to the Tasker’s Gap side – which is much quicker. This side of the trails were filled with ATVs and is much more ATV-friendly. We did the quick loop, took a group photo, and then headed back out. Everyone was still in great spirits and we decided to head over to Luray Caverns.

It’s about a 20-30 minute drive to the caverns. As we crested the hill Cherie said, “Woah, what is that huge thing – is that a car dealership?” It was the caverns! It has grown up a lot and almost seemed like an amusement park! They have the cavern buildings, multiple food places, a car museum, a hedge maze, and a ropes adventure course. The line was enormous so we decided to grab our tickets ASAP and get in line. It actually went very fast and we were headed into the cave in no time. You enter into the cave through a tiny door and then pile into a large room to begin the tour. The tour group we were in had about 100 people and it was a tight fit!

The caves were amazing. Most of us hadn’t been there in a while so a lot of it was either new or a walk down memory lane. A lot of the paths had changed and everything was wheel chair accessible now. We saw many breathtaking formations and got to hear the Stalacpipe organ play. At one point in the tour all of the lights went out! We assumed it was just part of the tour, but it turned out a kid had just hit the light switch and our tour guide had to turn them back on. Makes you appreciate the light! The tour lasted a little over an hour and we walked 1.25 miles on the paved walkways. Very impressive!

We finished up the day with a trip through the car museum. We got to see the predecessor to the JEEP – the 1923 Willys-Knight. A nice way to wrap up the off-roading adventure. As we all made our way back out to the cars we couldn’t help but be enticed by the smell of home-made fudge. We all walked out with large bags – yum! We parted ways with our new snacks, it was a delightful ending to a very fun trail day.

Photo Album: 04/19/14 Taskers Gap

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Trail report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Andrew Taylor and Robert Rixham.

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