A couple of weeks ago, my buddy MS and I went on a short bike packing excursion. We set up base camp at the Todd Lake Recreation Area, which is a quaint little Forest Service campground with drinking water and nice facilities.
Todd Lake base camp
Todd Lake Recreation Area (base camp) –> SW on North River Rd. (95) –> N on Flat Run Trail (505)–> W on Leading Ridge Rd (95A) –> NW North River Rd (95) –> N on North River Trail (539) –> N on 427 (and maybe 85) to Reddish Knob. We descended Timber Ridge (431) to Wolf Ridge (378) to Tillman Rd. to 95 and back to Todd Lake.
Flat Run is a pretty easy trail and as the name suggests has very little elevation change. It was the most overgrown trail that we rode though and there even seemed to be places where hikers had piled up sticks/limbs perhaps in an effort to deter bikers (?). There were a few downed trees to get around/under/through as well.
cool rock formations along creek
North River Trail is a really fun trail and was relatively clear. It’s generally uphill going south to north. The southern end is pretty mellow on the climbing though with nothing too steep. As you near the northern end, things gets steeper and gnarlier. While we enjoyed the south to north direction, this trail would be a hoot going north to south. It also crosses the North River about a dozen times, so be aware in colder weather or when the water is high. We were able to ride or walk across all the crossings without getting our feet wet.
Timber Ridge descends quickly from the road below Reddish Knob and soon encounters a mega-rock garden. After that, the ridge line trail descends and ascends so you never feel like there is a lot of elevation loss.
Wolf Ridge – once you hook up to this trail it’s a downhill party except for a few short, rocky climbs to keep you honest. Toward the bottom before you reach Tillman Rd, SVBC has modified the straight drop into a wonderful bermy, swoopy good time (Thanks!). I’m sure all of the recent participants of the SM100 know what I mean.
bottom of the rock pile
Reddish Knob is one of the highest points in Virginia, rising 4,397 feet. No other peak rises higher to the northeast before New York’s Adirondacks. The views are pretty amazing. Unfortunately, the fact that there is a paved road to the top with a small paved parking lot and guardrails takes something away from it for me. It’s definitely worth a visit though.
pulling into Reddish Knob
After absorbing the views and taking a short break, we departed Reddish Knob and began the descent down Timber Ridge. Around 7PM we discovered what appeared to be a dried up pond bed on the north side of the trail. We set off on foot to take a closer look. I half expected it to be marshy or very soggy at the least, but it was dry. It was a sign — time to set up camp, which we did pretty quickly, followed by some grub and our one cold beer each. The fire was struggling a bit, but by that time I was spent and went to sleep. It was about 8 o’clock.
ridgeline camp sunrise
I awoke with the sun to chilly temps, retrieved the bear bag, and got the coffee going. After a quick breakfast and breaking down camp, we were back on the trail by 8:15.
MS had a bit of a mechanical Saturday afternoon when he bent his derailleur around the back side of his frame. He managed to mangle it back into place enough to continue riding. Sunday morning though, the saga continued when he completely obliterated it. Not good. But after some trial and error, he successfully converted the Blur into a singlespeed. We pedaled on. He was just pedaling a little harder.
where’s my derailleur?
After several miles of some really fun downhill on Wolf Ridge trail, we eventually exited onto Tillman Rd. From there is was a few miles of gravel road followed by about 3 miles of a pretty steep paved climb back to Todd Lake. All in all, it was a great route and a great time. I look forward to getting back out to explore more of the wonderful George Washington National Forest.
Here is some video from Day 1. I’ll see about getting some Day 2 footage up soon.