Union Springs Night Run!

In 2022, the club went on an amazing night run up Union Springs, and had a blast! So, we were excited to plan another run up the trail! 

Attendees:

  • Jendra – Wrangler JKU
  • Brian – Wrangler JKU
  • Lee and Jen – Hummer SUT
  • Alex, Hank, Kevin – Wrangler JKU
  • Jeff – Defender
  • Andrew & Ethan- Xterra

We had a great group with us, and Andrew even brought his 3yr old Ethan along! 

Union Springs is one of the three trails that leads up the peak of Flagpole Knob. Of the three, it is the most challenging, with several large rock steps throughout the trail, as well as a few rutted out sections. With most of the large obstacles, careful line choice can get most capable offroad vehicles up. There are some rock steps that are not bypassable, where a rear locker or a off-road oriented traction control system can help.

The club met at Ottobine Elementary School, near the entrance of the Union Springs trailhead, at 7pm. After everyone arrived, we headed out to the reservoir at the start of the trail to air down and have our drivers meeting.

After that, we hit the trail, just as the sun started to drop on the horizon. In the treeline on the trail, things get dark faster, and by 8, our off-road lights were on! The first half of the ride is a pleasant ride through the woods, with some mild stream crossings and an easy climb up. 

At around mile 8 of the ride, we come across our first obstacle, a fun downward climb on some 12-18 inch rock steps. There are 3 total paths down, the most challenging on the left, a medium middle line with a bit of a drop off at the end, and a flat bypass on the far right. We took the fun left line down, making it down with no issues. Even Jeff’s awesome Defender made it down with some careful spotting, without touching a single slider!

From then on, we made our way up the mountain, encountering occasional rock climbs and large puddle crossings. At one point, Andrew called up from the rear of the convoy, about a strange sound coming from the Xterra. After checking, his ball joint nut had backed out, and only had a couple of remaining threads left. Luckily we caught it, tightened it back up, and were ready to roll!

My Jeep was limping as well, with a damaged CV on the front driveshaft, courtesy of the club’s Wheelin’ for Hope trip 2 weeks prior. Outside of some loud clacking and metal grinding noises, 4WD continued to work and we kept going up!

We stopped at Meadow Knob, which was uninhabited, and we stopped to get some photos of the vehicles with their off-road lights on. We were making amazing time on the trail, with no problem making it up the trail’s obstacles. We got to Meadow Knob around 10:30pm. Some of us were planning on camping for the night, so we took note that Meadow Knob was empty, in case Flagpole Knob was busy with campers and we had to come back down to camp at Meadow Knob.

We continued on, and after a few more rocks and fun rutted climbs, we made it to the Flagpole Knob peak around 11pm. There was one set of campers around the main ring at the loop, but the side of the loop was clear, so we settled in there. 

3 of us, myself, Andrew, and Lee set up camp, and the other 3 vehicles left, with Brian and Jeff staying at nearby hotels, and Alex, Hank and Kevin heading home, as he was only about an hour and a half away. 

We hung out for a short bit after setting up camp, but were pretty tired, and hit our beds around 1am. It was a beautiful night, with a full moon above Harrisonburg, and a clear view over the trees. It got a little chilly, getting into the 40’s, but otherwise pleasant. Big props to Ethan who was a champ camping in the cold!

The next morning, we gradually woke up, packed up camp, and hung out a bit for breakfast before heading down the mountain via Briery Branch Rd.

It was an awesome ride, and glad we were able to do this trip again! Hopefully this is a regular run for the club!

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Photo Album: 05/05/2023 Union Night Run

Trail Report written by Jendra Rambharos. Pictures contributed by Jendra Rambharos, Andrew Taylor, and Lee Hernandez. GPS tracks provided by Jendra Rambharos.

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