GET Section 5b Trail Report

October 14, 2012

Note- CR 25 on the west side of Briery Branch Gap is now open, apparently newly paved. 

North River Trail, from FDR 85 to FDR 95, 5 miles
        This was a FOCAS hike, with Chad Churchman, Mary Huffer, and Cathy Fisher.  The trail was mostly clear, a few places had blackberry plants growing in--not too much.  I understand PATC workers worked on it on 8/4/2012. 

June 9, 2012

North River Trail, to 1.5 mile from FDR 95
         I weed-whacked the trail from the road almost to the 3rd river crossing, about 1.5 miles. 


September 17, 2011

Note -- CR 25 on the west side of Briery Branch Gap is currently closed due to road construction.  Signs warn about a road closing at the beginning of VA 924 to the east and FDR 85 to the south, but they don't say which road is closed, and it looks like the access to Reddish Knob is closed, but it is not.  This section can be accessed normally. 

North River Trail, to 1.0 mile from FDR 95
        The weed whacked part (first 0.7 mile) was still short, but some blackberry plants are reaching over into the trail.  I went on another 0.3 mile after the 2nd creek crossing, and although it's evident it wasn't whacked, it still was fairly clear, but there were a few blackberry plants. 
        The creek is not quite as high as on June 25, but I could get across dry footed, partly because of rocks I placed then. 

June 25, 2011

North River Trail from FDR 95
      I weed-whacked the trail from the road to the 2nd river crossing, about 0.7 mile.  North River had more water than in previous times I'd been there.  I had to place some rocks to get across the first crossing to get across dry-footed, and placed some rocks at the 2nd crossing, but I didn't go across it. 

June 26, 2010


           Considering the growth along the North River Trail, I weed-whacked the lower 0.5 mile (sure seemed like a lot more until I went back!). 




July 31, 2009


FR 95 to Briery Branch Gap on GET, 9.8 miles


            This hike was taken on a rainy day.  It includes the North River Trail and two road walk sections.  Although I would like to see new sections of trail to replace road walks, I must say that today, it was great along the road walks, mostly because of the plentiful wildflowers, and also due to light traffic (the rain contributed to that, I'm sure).  I counted 80 different kinds of wildflowers (a record), and a number of kinds were very plentiful in places.  We didn't clear any growth on this hike, and completed it in just over 5 hours. 

            With me on this hike were my hiking companions David, Nancy, my dog Sid, and Nancy's dog Aslan.  We didn't see or hear mammals or birds, but we saw 15 red efts. 

            Some observations:


  • Light to moderate Gypsy Moth damage.  No trees were stripped bare, but many appear to have partly eaten leaves. 
  • The North River Road (FR 95) has been rebuilt since the topographic maps were printed.  The topo map shows that road crossing Little River six times, but now it crosses it only twice. 
  • The North River Trail is easily followed.  The lower part follows an old road bed, while the upper part is foot trail.  There is a point where the trail leaves the road bed. 
  • There are seven crossings of North River by the North River Trail.  They were easy enough in this dry part of summer, but if the water rose even 3 inches, all crossing stones would be under water.  The rocks in the creekbed aren't all that big to make stepping stones, either.  At the least, hikers could be redirected along the Shenandoah Mountain Road (FR 85) during times of high water. 
  • At the lower end of the North River Trail, the trail is near the stream, and further up it gets a distance away from it.  But further up (on the footpath) the trail comes back closer yet to the stream, with two nice small waterfalls there. 
  • There is a campsite at the very lower end of the trail, close to FR 95.  Although there are many potential campsites in this hollow, I didn't see anything cleared on the rest of the trail. 
  • The trail is overgrown in places with blackberry, stinging nettles, and birch.  Very little Striped Maple here, and not many Black Locusts.  This trail would be in great shape if the in-growing plants were clipped back. 
  • At the top of the hollow, the trail comes to a "T" with one side connecting to Shenandoah Mountain Road (FR 85) near the Shenandoah Mountain Picnic Area, while the other side goes to Bald Knob Road, which then connects to FR 85 0.9 mile north of the other point. 
  • The current Great Eastern Trail plan follows the trail toward the Shenandoah Mountain Picnic Area.  The point where it comes out is obscured by high plant growth.  It took me three drives past that point to see it.  The Shenandoah Mountain Picnic Area has been decommissioned, and no longer has tables or toilets, although parking is still there. 
  • We followed the trail to Bald Knob Road, which although not printed on the 2001 version of National Geographic Map 791, was in fine shape.  The Bald Knob Road was a good walk too, not grown up with plants, and not muddy. 
  • The Bald Knob Road ends on FR 85, going parallel to it for a ways.  There is a shortcut (the old route?) that cuts off some of that distance. 
  • I would recommend that the Great Eastern Trail route be changed to the Bald Knob Road route.  It would reduce the road walk by 0.9 mile, and the total distance by 0.6 mile.  Since the Picnic Area is decommissioned, there is no advantage to putting the route close to it. 
  • The GET route follows FR 85 for 4.5 miles.  I can see several places where it looks like it wouldn't be too difficult to build a footpath off the road.  A few other places it might be more difficult. 
  • The GET route bypasses the summit of Reddish Knob.  But there is a point where it looks like an old (abandoned) path still leads there from FR 85, which could be resuscitated either as a GET path, or a side path. 
  • There was almost no poison ivy on this hike.  The little that was there was growing out of the guard rail on the paved part of FR 85 within a mile of Briery Branch Gap, on the east side of the road. 


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