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VA - Veach Gap / Shawl Gap - Mountain Bike Trail Review with Map and Pictures

Review By Eric S. - Thanks

Rating Explanation (0-5)                 Category: (+)

Overall Rating

Single-Track Adventure Climbing Free-ride Fun Fear      Trail Enhancements Scenery Technicalities
4 4 5 2 4 3 2 4 5 4.4 ?
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Directions - Take 81 south to route 55 east - after about 5 miles take a right onto 678..  Follow for about 10.3? miles and park at the hiking lot past the fish hatchery??

Description -   I hired a guide at Waterlick Grocery/Halfmoon bikes in Strasburg. Matt was my guide and was well equipped with much knowledge and a good F/S Demo Bike.
We parked at Veach Gap rd, which is just off Fort Valley rd. Park to the right of the Gate in the small lot.
Our initial intent was to ride the entire ridge to get back to the car, which was parked at a hiking lot at the North/East side of the ridge past the Fish Hatchery.
The first few miles were old Jeep rd, slowly climbing until we got to a junction of a trail which veered left. Stay Left-The Jeep rd continued to the right as shown on the map.
None of this initial climbing was too steep, relentless once on the singletrack, but not steep.
We climbed alongside a fire break on "Little Crease Mt" for a while on the first long climb.
Some great views as expected once we got to the top, but even when this place was flat it was still very technical and very tiring.
Once at the top of ridge there were only a few short but technical descents.
When you get to the big rock scramble(highest point) prepare yourself for a very cool downhill.The trail drops off the East side of the ridge and slowly winds down through the woods, some nice rock stairs and skinny technical lines down to Shawl Gap. You'll see a trail marker. Go Left at the downed tree.
The next section had me grinning from ear to ear as we descended for the next 1.3 miles. Sometimes down large rock stairs, sometimes across the hill gaining a lot of speed with quite a few places to catch air. Even when the trail finally leveled out it still quite fun, always moving to keep it interesting.
We ended up at Elizabeth Furnace-which is where you should park if you don't want to ride back on the road.
Overall a very impressive ride, Very technical but 95% ridable if you have the lungs and leg muscle. The place demands your attention, not many places to relax here.
You're always looking ahead for the easiest line, a choice of which one is less rocky.
I had 2.6" tires on my demo and was loving the extra volume, I can't imagine riding here with a hardtail.
BEWARE, my guide tells me not many bikers use the trail so you're essentially on your own. We didn't see anyone-not even hikers in 4 hours of riding.
We decided not go up to Buzzard Rocks, apparently there are many "Hike a Bike" sections there and a less impressive downhill down to the car.
Besides, I'd had more than enough fun and abuse by then.


Loops -

Pre-ride Music:
Total Miles: 10 miles on trail, 6.3 miles on road to complete the loop.
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