my wife and i are looking to go camping off of the blue ridge parkway in va and also want some off road trails to tour. Any suggestions ? thanks
Madison / Conway trail - Stock Jeeps are not recommended
Some of the terrain is very rocky with deep water and difficult rock descents. In fact, as soon as you get to the trail you go straight down over a few rocks into the stream. Directions are fairly easy. From Charlottesville you take 29 North for about 20 miles. Then take left at traffic light (burger king / Exxon) onto 33 West; take 33 West for a few miles and then take right at traffic light onto 33 West Business (also called Spotsville Rd.) Take spotswood for 1.3 miles and then take right onto Madison. Take Madison for 2.6 miles and then take left on Middle River Rd. (also called rt. 667) once you are on Middle River there might be a right turn / merge onto Conway drive; if you see Conway, take it. Otherwise, Middle River will take you to the trail. You should cross two concrete bridges on your way to the trail. This trail is lightly used and is not on GWNF lands....it is in Shenendoah instead.....it is legal, but no fires or TRASH allowed.
GWNF -- Dry River District (Dictums Ridge - Second Mountain - Salt Shed)
Starting in Hampton Va go west on Highway 64 and stay on 64 West until you come to the junction with Highway 81. This should take aprox. 3 hours coming from Hampton. You then want to take Highway 81 North for about 30 minutes. Once you reach Harrisonburg VA you want to take the exit after the James Madison University Exit which is Route 33. You want to take 33 West. Follow 33 West until you reach the GWNF. Once there Second Mountain and Dictums Ridge are on your right. You will see a sign for Second Mountain on your right. Dictums Ridge is also on the right but you can reach it from the Second Mountain trail. The Saltshed is on your left aprox. 1 mile from the George Washington National Forest sign that welcomes you to the forest. The entrance is on your left and is marked by a large run down red shed. You can follow the trail either right or left but I would suggest going right.
NOTE: Some parts of the trail look as if they just end at the river. This is not the case. In many parts you actually have to drive up the river to the next part of the trail. Stay OFF the dam. The rangers will get you. AND PLEASE TREAD LIGHTLY. They have had a good deal of trouble with college students tearing up the place and dumping trash. We would like to keep the place open for all of us to use. Also, if you are looking for a more mellow drive follow 33 west past the saltshed heading towards West Virginia. You will start up a steep mountain and at the top there is a turnoff. If you reach West Virginia you have gone to far. At the top of the road take the turnoff and it will take you on a beautiful scenic route from the Switzer Dam (that is the body of water you see at the start of the trail) all the way to Reddish Knob. At the top of Reddish Knob you can see Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia on a clear day and is a great place for a picnic. If you have any questions please give me a call.....757-593-8621.
Green Ridge State Forest, MD
- West of I-68 and east of Flintstone; Park HQ is off exit 64 (park maps available). TravelTime from Beltway - 3hrs. Exit 62 Fifteem Mile Creek Road - trail head. Have 23 miles of designated ORV trails. Skill/Equipment Level - Can be navigate in 2WD with LSD or the like - signs "advise 4X4". Some long up hills (2036 to scenic over look - right Chris.) Typically dry, with some muddy spots/ crossings. Rocky/Bumpy ride.
George Washington National Forest, VA
- TravelTime from Beltway - 2hrs. 7 miles of mild ORV trail. Mountainous, lots of rocks, scenery. Campgrounds at either end of the trail, or off trial sites. Trail runs from outside of Woodstock to Edinburgh Gap.
There are five locations in the park listed with offroad areas. They range from about 80 to 150 miles from the beltway.
-Lee Ranger District, Edinburg (703)984-4101
-GW Nat Forest Sup. Harrisonburg (703)433-2491
-Dry River Ranger, Bridgewater (703)828-2591
-Pedlar Ranger, Buena Vista (703)261-6105
-Warm Springs Ranger, Hot Springs (703)839-2521 These are listed in approximate order of distance from DC.
Directions to GW forest -provided by Ted [email protected]
Take I-66 west to I-81 south. Exit onto Rt 42 East and then head North on US 11 into the town of Woodstock. Once in Woodstock, take a right onto East Court Street. At the end of the street (less than a block) turn left onto Water Street and then almost immediately turn right onto 758. If you can make it to 758, you've got it made. 758 heads across the North Fork of the Shenandoah and up a mountain. You'll eventually see a sign that says "Welcom to the George Washington National Forest". Soon after that will be scenic overlook that also has an observation tower. Stop and take pictures if your into that sort of thing - it's a great view from the tower. Not far after the overlook you'll come to a split in the road, turn right, staying on 758. Now less than a mile later you'll see the entrance to the Little Fort camping area on your right. At the back of the camp ground you'll find the entrance to the Offroad Vehicle Trail - it is clearly marked with "Tread Lightly" plates on the trail markers.
The trail is about 7 miles long and runs south to Rt 675 at Edinburg Gap. You can also pick up the trail there if you like by exiting I-81 at Edinburg and picking up 675 out of town. It intersects US 11 at the Edinburg Jeep Dealership - should be easy to remember.
Camping is allowed anywhere within the GW National Forest as long as your vehicle is totally off the road/trail. Once on the ORV trail there are no facilities, so you may want to stay at one of the camp grounds at either end of this ORV trail.
Here are a few of my favorite trails in the GW National Forest:
- Provided by ???
From DC get on to 81 south. Exit onto 33 west go through Harrisonburg. Take a right onto 612 (easy to miss the first time). Follow 612 till you find a sign directing you to an ATV park (It will be a left hand turn right after a church on to a maintained dirt road (it will be FR 72)). Go for about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile and make a right (should be easy to find as there are trees on both sides except where to make the right turn) Congrats! you are now on the trail. It follows and crosses a stream for about 3 to 4 miles. Has some moderate rock climbs when going up dry creek beds. At the end of the trail you come to a dirt road "T" intersection. Make a left. You will then come to a four-way intersection. To the left and right is FR72. Straight will take you to the middle of trail #2. (take the left to get back to 612).
Second Mountain / Ditcum Ridge Loop (Tread Lightly sponsored)
Follow above directions to get to 33 west. Once on 33 west turn right onto Second Mountain (There is a non standard wooden sign with white letters). That's it! Follow the loop around till it gets back to 33. (Not many camping spots on the above trails)
Take 81 south. Then 33 west. In the town of Harrisonburg, take 42 south. Make a right onto 257 west. Keep following the signs for 257 west. Eventually 257 turns into a one lane paved, mountain road. At one point towards the top, 257 make a 180 turn (rather sharp). If you go straight instead of following the paved road you will go on to a dirt road. Follow the dirt road for about 5-6 miles. (plenty of camping on side trails). Dirt road will come out of the trees into a large open plateau area with a great view to the north. Stop here and walk the perimeter of the plateau. You will spot the tire ruts to the trail to the N/NE of the open plateau. This is the trail head. Trail goes for about 3 miles. Take a right at a burned down cabin (this gets you on FR225). Going straight puts you on private prop.
All three trails have been traversed with limited scrapping in a stock 93 Wrangler with P215 tires. Longer wheel-bases may have a harder time.
Assateague Island, MD
New Information courtesy of: Philip Hancock
National Seashore, Berlin (410)641-1441 Sand and Dunes apprx 13 miles of sand/beach driving. $40 permit is required (rummors that a shovel, tow rope, jack, and jack board/deck are also required prior to access). Possible air stations at beach accesses.
TravelTime from Beltway - apprx 3 hrs depending on traffic (what there is traffic in DC/Metro??). Night Access allowed no camping/sleeping on beach/shore, though. Limits to apprx 140 vehicles - this means lines.
Some information taken from a 1996 ORV brochure:
$4.00 per vehicle just to enter the park (good for 7 days)
$40.00 for a 30 day offroad pass
$60.00 for a yearly pass
A shovel with at least a 6" square and a handle at least 18" long
A jack able to life one wheel clear off the sand
A jack support atleast 12"X12" of non-bending steel, 5/8" plywood, or 1 1/2" hardwood.
A tire guage with a minimum reading of 15 lbs or less
A tow rope, strap, chain or cable with a minimum pulling strecgth of 6k lbs and atleast 10' long. Ropes must be a minimum of 3/4" in diameter. Nylon or dacron ropes atleast 1/2" in diameter and 1/4" carbon steel cable are acceptible. Chain links must be a minumum of 5/16" in diameter.
As you can see they are very specific. Overnight camping is not allowed, although overnight stay with a self-contained camper in the "bull-pen" area is allowed as long is it has a bathroom and permanently installed waste storage system. Also those who are engaged in surf fishing may stay on the beach after dark. (Fishing is good there...saw a guy catch a good sized sand shark on squid this past weekend). Towed travel trailers are ok...but not recommended.
One thing...you mentioned that there is possible air gauges there, there is. About 4 of them, and a nice big area to fill up/air down at. There is 12 miles of sand trail on Assateague Island. It is not serious off-roading, but one of the nicest beach driveable areas I have seen. But do keep in mind that the state line from MD to VA is located on the island, and I dont want to quote anything about the laws that are there. I dont have a VA brochure, but from the way it sounds in the brochure you are able to drive into VA with the one permit. Although I do know that pets are permitted on the MD side, not on the VA side.
Assateague is a really nice place to visit. There is camping, but not on the sand as mentioned earlier. On the bay-side of the island are 4 canoe-inn campsites for those into canoeing. Fishing there is great too. I highly recommend it to people in the DC area, but make reservations early for camping, its a popular place.
One last note. The rangers do an inspection of your vehicle to see if you have the necessary equipment when you get the permit...and they check often after that too. So, anytime you go to Assateauge, bring the stuff!!! They will kick you off if you dont have it.
- TravelTime from BeltWay - 5 hrish to Southern Shores. To get to first ORV ramp at Oregon Inlet add another 25-40 minutes. Crossing into Pea Island National Sea Shore the 1st ORV ramp is few miles outside of Waves. There are 2or3 between Waves and Avon. 1 or 2 between Avon and Buxton, 1 at Cape Haterass light house, 1 at Frisco and 1 at the Ocakroke (sp) ferry. I don't think there are any in Ramps in the northern beaches (Duck, Corrolla). BTW: I have heard that most of the OuterBank (at least NagHead and South) is driveable after tourist season (apprx from may to oct) - don't know if this is true though.
Terrain: Sand/Beach driving (Driving in the DUNEs is against the law!!!!!) Skill/Equipment - newbie/intermediate with common sence, Aired down tires help, Clearance is nice too - not 10' lifts with 66 inch tires - just enuff to clear the sand ruts that develope - normal/stock jeep/4wd truck height works fine. I have seen several 2wd trucks, 4wd subaru station wagons and brats, a few sand bugs, and sand rail or two out at Oregon Inlet. After the tide comes in, it is like driving on asphalt, for a while. Not Exactly 4x4 adventure, BUT great weekend outdoors fishing, playing in water, etc. There are some designated ORV trails on the soundside - never tried them. Most appear to be sand trails to sand boat ramps on the sound. Frisco State Camp Ground, highly recommended, right next to ORV beach ramp too. Some of the other State Camp Grounds (actually I think they are national grounds??) are the "pull your RV up and plug in type" Oregon inlet goes both ways - Haterass, I have heard, is a camp ground with hot tubs!!! There are private camp areas too. Finally, As many of you mentioned: The Weeping Radish! Bavarian Restaurant and Micro Brewery in Manteo NC (Andy Griffith's Hometown - you want to know where Mayberry came from - check out downtown Manteo).
One last thing - getting to Nags Head from VA/VA beach, traveling on 168/158, you pass right by Grave Digger's Dungeon - I hear they give rides for paying customers.
Directions provided by Charlie Mallery ([email protected])
>From the beltway, take Dulles Toll Road to 28 North, then make first left onto rt.606. Take that till you get to rt.621 (_if you get to rt.50, you went a little too far_). travel on 621 for about 15 min. Its hard to describe where you turn right, but its when the road drops and turns at the same time - its sorta a blind intersection w/ "Resevoir Road". Turn right. *Clue* if you cross a bridge over a wooded stream, you just passed it. Resevoir road dead ends at the resevoir. Its been a while since I was last there - like Dec 21, 1991, 3:30 AM, 12 degrees, got stuck, walked till 5:00. *sucked* But anyway, if you're into mud, there some deep holes there. lots of mud, lots of gooey, sticky, looks 6 inches deep instead of 3 feet deep sticky, gooey, left winch at home gross, well, mud. Never explored all of it (wonder why), but it looked like maybe you could travel along a power line trail. Happy Jeeping
- Directions to Shoe Creek Trail: Blue Ridge Mtns/GW Forest/Crabtree Falls. These directions are from the DC area and start you off at the top of Shoe Creek.
First of all, go buy the DeLorme, VA Atlas, if you don't have it. This is money well spent. This atlas has helped me find my way home many times. Even the most obscure dirt road can be found in this atlas. It's great. I got mine from Barnes and Nobles Bookstore. If you can't find one, call DeLorme at 1.800.227.1656, ext 6200. Shoe Creek Trail is on page 54 Section B-3.
On to the trail... I'll assume we're coming from North of Waynesboro: Take Interstate 81 South to Waynesboro. Continue on I-81 about 15 miles south of Waynesboro until you see the sign for the Steeles Tavern/Raphine exit. This should be Route 606. Turn left on Rt-606 towards Steeles Tavern. Continue (south?) on Rt-606 until you reach Route 11. Turn left on Rt11, go about 50 yards, take your next right onto Rt-56. Shoe Creek trail is off of Rt-56. Continue on Rt-56, past a small(tiny) town, over some railroad tracks, and then up the mountain. Rt-56 is a steep road up the mountain. (My old Ford really moans up this hill). Eventually, Rt-56 will begin to level out. You should pass the Montebello Fish Cultural Station (they teach fish how to speak French) on your right. Now you're really close, maybe a mile or so. Start looking for a dirt road on your RIGHT side. It will be FR-826 (but, alas the sign is usually hidden by a tree). There will be a house up a small hill to the right of the dirt road. There will be split rail fence in front of the house. On the left of the dirt road is a meadow (Crabtree Meadow). You'll also be on the downhill side of Rt-56. (If you miss it, you'll end up at the Crabtree Falls Parking area. Turn around here, go back up the mountain).
You're offroading now... Turn right onto the dirt road (FR-826). This is a state maintained dirt road that will lead you up the mountain, past some primo primitive campsites, past a gravel parking area for a nice hiking trail. (Stop here, take a 2 mile hike to the falls and overlook. Well worth the walk). This uphill half of the trail is a pretty easy cruise up to the top of the mountain. (Best campsites are near the top). The downhill side gets more interesting. Generally an easy trail, it does have a few mudholes and rocks to contend with. We've gone down (and up) with vehicles ranging from a stock Wrangler to a modified Suburban without any problems. Near the bottom of the trail, you'll pass waterfalls, cross thru Shoe Creek a couple of times and then follow the creek to the end of the trail. Great place to wash and wake up in the morning. (Half way down the trail there is an off shoot to the left. This smaller trail is more difficult, but only precedes for a mile or so (expect to test your skid plates here.) There is a long narrow downhill run at the end which only a small 4x4 can get down without collecting trees. If your 4x4 is narrow enough to fit between the trees, this downhill section will rejoin with the main trail.) Now turn around and go back up...
The easiest way out is back the way you came. If you can't go back up the trail, there are a couple of ways to go depending on where home is. Here's where the atlas comes in real handy.