On an amazing fall day in October, the club decided to visit one of our favorite trails, Union Springs, in George Washington National Forest. To give ourselves a bit of an additional challenge, we tackled it in the uphill direction, going from Union Springs Hollow Lake, and making our way up the mountain towards Flagpole Knob, then down Dunkle Hollow, ending at Skidmore Fork Lake.
- Jendra – Orange Jeep Wrangler
- Kelly – Tuscadero Jeep Wrangler
- Matt – GMC Yukon
- Wilbur – Ford Raptor
- Brian – Silver Jeep Wrangler
We met at Ottobine Elementary School, just a couple of miles from the Union Springs Trailhead, at 10am. This spot was chosen because we still have cell service, just in case someone needed to get a hold of us before we hit the trail. After meeting up and having a quick drivers meeting, we headed out to the trailhead to air our tires down for the ride.
This is where we noticed a bit of smoke coming from my rear driver wheel. By the looks of it, the caliper dragged a bit on the rotor, causing it to heat up and begin to smoke. My brakes seemed to be working fine, so we just monitored it to make sure it didn’t get worse. It seemed to go away and didn’t act up for the rest of the day fortunately!
With that sorted, we hit the trail. Fall was just about setting in, and we may have lucked out and hit the trail near the peak of the leaf changing season. The trail was gorgeous, with various shades of yellow, orange, red, and green. We did notice there were a lot of fallen leaves on the trail as well, so it probably wouldn’t be long until the trees would be barren.
We then came across a series of large mud puddles, weaving in and out between the trees. None were particularly deep, but a few were quite long. After getting our vehicles a bit wet, we continued on.
It was about 6 miles of riding through pretty mild and beautiful trails before we reached our first obstacle.
It was a series of rock steps, between 12 and 18 inches high on the most challenging line. There were two additional paths, one with a single 18 inch drop, and another smooth bypass. It was a fun obstacle, with different folks taking different lines. With a bit of spotting we all made it through with no issues!
After the big rock descent, we continued on, before coming up to a larger rock shelf that we had to climb. It was at this point that a large group of dirt bikers came up behind us. It took a bit of time, but they managed to get around us. This step was a bit of a challenge, and one of us made use of their winch to clear a slippery step on the climb. Momentum could possibly have helped, but there are two trees close to the trail, so a slip could potentially cause some damage, so we took the safe route up.
Proceeding up the mountain, we came across a handful of steep rock steps that we needed to climb up. A bit of spotting, and one application of traction boards and we made it up! After that, we stopped at a clear campsite with a beautiful view over the valley for lunch. After lunch, we continued on to the final 2 rutted out climbs towards Flagpole Knob.
From Flagpole Knob, we made our way back down the mountain via Dunkle Hollow. It was once again a beautiful and scenic ride, with the leaves changing and the streams below in the valley.
Once we got to the bottom, we made our way to Skidmore Fork Lake, to wrap up the ride and air our tires back up. It was a great finish to a fun day on the trails!
Trail Report written by Jendra Rambharos. Pictures contributed by Jendra Rambharos and Matt Malone. GPS tracks provided by Jendra Rambharos.