GET Guidebook 2a

Edition 1/25/2013

 

Section 2a
Gore, VA (US 50) to Loman Branch
DEVILS BACKBONE

Distance 13.6 miles

Brief Description of Section

    This section takes its name from one of the historical names of Great North Mountain, Devils Backbone.  There are a number of excellbent views from the ridgeline.  The views from Pinnacle Rock include Back Creek Valley, Timber Ridge and the mountains beyond.  On a clear day the Allegheny Plateau is visible.  Most of the trail here is in the backcountry.
    Devils Backbone affords several good camping areas and a shelter.  Camping should be confined to these areas since much of the land is privately owned.
    At the north end is Barclays Run Campsite which is owned by PATC.  The spring goes dry in the hot months, so be prepared.
    The beautiful Pinnacle Shelter area, which also includes a pavilion with a picnic table and a privy, is 7.7 miles from the north end of this section.  The shelter is well built and spacious and is near a spring.  It is located at the south end of Deep Hollow, a natural area with waterfalls and "Cat Rock" cliffs on the west side of the gorge.
    South of the Pinnacle Shelter are Pinnacle Rocks and Cave, a natural area of rock outcropping and cliffs with views west to the Alleghany Plateau.  A side trail connects the Tuscarora Trail to views and a cave formed by the rocks.
    Behind and east of Pinnacle Rocks lies Pinnacle Camp at 2300 feet elevation, 8 miles from the north end.  There is always a pleasant breeze under the hickory and oak.  However, winter winds are downright frigid.  The campground is a large flat ridge top area without any improvement (i.e., no table, privy, etc) except a fire ring.
    The Frye Path intersects the Tuscarora Trail at the south end of Pinnacle Camp and the Laurel Run Trail.  This early pioneer trail traverses the Pinnacle and Great North Mountain ranges, nearly ten miles from Back Creek Valley to St. Johns Church in the Shenandoah Valley.   Most of the path had probably been an Indian trail in earlier times.  In one incident, Indians attacked a group of whites in the 1750s on Frye Path, and took some captives across the mountain.  About one-half mile of this historic route is blazed yellow, and is maintained by PATC.  
    Water can be found by going down the east side of the ridge to Pinnacle Spring except in extremely dry weather.  The spring is from the headwaters of Laurel Run.  If there is no water at the spring, follow the streambed.
    About two miles from the southern end of this section is Lucas Woods, owned by PATC, and Lucas Woods Hikers Camp.  There is a spring nearby.  It was here that the last blaze on the Tuscarora was painted by Fred Blackburn in a ceremony held in October 1981.  Fred was present when the first blaze of the Big Blue Trail, now the southern half of the Tuscarora Trail, was painted.
    The climb to Pinnacle Ridge and Great North Mountain is nearly 1900 feet, starting at 700 feet near Gore to almost 2600 feet at Hells Thicket, the high laurel, scrub oak and pine grove just south of the Pinnacles.  It was given its name by the trail crew that had to cut through it.
    Look for trailing arbutus in early spring.  The fringe tree with its white fringe like flowers blooms in late May.  There is an abundance of laurel on the mountain top.  Lots of blueberries and huckleberries ripen in the summer.  Some of the common trees here are oak, blackgum, maple, birch, poplar, serviceberry, and sassafras. 

The PATC, Lee Ranger District and private landowners are working together on a seven-mile relocation of the Tuscarora Trail from the Cacapon River Valley to the Great North Mountain ridge.  The relocated trail would follow the ridge southwesterly from mile point 10.4, past Eagle Rock and through Dry Gap where it would enter the National Forest and join the extant trail east of Hawk Recreation Area.  It is anticipated that this relocation will begin in 2010.  The current trail would then be white blazed and enable a circuit backpack between Hawk and Lucas Woods Hikers Camp.

Parking

  1. North end of section at Gore, VA.  Space for one or two cars on shoulder at southwest corner of US 50 bridge over Back Creek.
  2. South end of section at Loman Branch.  Go approximately 14 miles west of Winchester on US 50.  Turn south on WV 259.  Go 7.3 miles to CR 23/3 (Lehew Road).  In 0.3 mile pass Shiloh Church turning left at the corner of the cemetery.  Go downhill 0.65 mile.  There is parking on the left side of the road.  The Jemima section comes in on a narrow dirt road from the right.

Shuttle

 North to south:  Continue west on US 50 for 2.5 miles.  Turn south on VA 259 (becomes WV 259).  Go 7.3 miles to CR 23/3 (Lehew Road).  In 0.3 mile pass Shiloh Church turning left at the corner of the cemetery.  Go downhill 0.65 mile. 
 South to north:  Go back on Lehew Road to WV 259, turn right and go 7.3 miles to US 50, turn right and go 2.5 miles. 

Maps

  PATC Map L
  USGS 7.5' Quadrangles: Gore, VA-WV; Hayfield, VA; Capon Springs, WV-VA

Useful Information
  Emergency   In WV or VA, Dial 9-1-1
  Services - Gore, VA, P.O. on US 50, 0.2 miles east of town; Gore Grocery, at junction of Routes 751 and 853, open seven days a week (6am-8pm except Sunday 7am-3pm).  Canned goods and deli, also gas and outside pay phone.


Trail Description - North to South

Miles Detailed Trail Data
 0.0  Enter woods at southwest side of US 50 bridge over Back Creek.
 0.3  Ford Back Creek-low water crossing.  If Back Creek is not fordable, recommended option is to go back to US 50 and continue west to Gore on VA 751 where the Gore Connector Trail (white-blazed) begins in front of a grocery store and leads to the Tuscarora Trail at mile point 1.3.
 1.1  Woods road on left.
 1.3  Gore Connector Trail (white-blazed) on right leads to Gore, VA in 1.1 miles; grocery store, pay phone, gas, etc. 
 1.4  Trail on right (white-blazed) leads to Barclays Run Campsite with tenting sites, pavilion, picnic table and fire ring and intermittent spring.
 1.6  Cross woods road.
 1.8  Join woods road.  Trail turns left and goes up hill after passing utility line clearing.
 1.9  Cross woods road
 2.4  Turn left on woods road and almost immediately turn right into woods. 
 3.0  Cross woods road.
 3.4  Cross woods road and turn right uphill into woods.
 4.5  Cross a series of large boulder fields in the next mile or so.
 6.4  Biby Wilderness Trail (white-blazed) on left leads to top of ridge and parking beside Timber Ridge Trail.
 7.1  Ignore unmarked path on left.
 7.2  Enter Deep Hollow. Double white blaze on tree marks unblazed path leading to good views of Cat Rock Cliffs and small waterfall on opposite side of gorge.
 7.4  Laurel Run Trail (white-blazed) on left.  Cross Laurel Run. Spring a short distance up trail and on left.
 7.7  Short path to right to Pinnacle Shelter.  (Shelter complex consists of shelter, pavilion, privy and fireplace.) Leave Deep Hollow.
 7.8  Cross old woods road.
 8.0  Ignore trail to right. 
 8.1  Top of Pinnacle Ridge.  Overlook to right of trail looking westward.  View of Back Creek Valley to Allegheny Front.  Rock Cave & Overlook Trail (white-blazed) on right leads to views and cave in rocks.  Excellent exposures of Tuscarora quartzites.  Rejoins Tuscarora Trail.
 8.2  Rock Cave & Overlook Trail (white-blazed) on right leads to a cave in rocks and views.
 8.2  Pinnacle Camp (elevation 2300').  (Spring down east side of ridge; may be dry for brief periods in fall.)  At south end of campground, intersect upper end of Frye Path, cross jeep road and go under power line.  Excellent views.  Enter woods and begin gentle climb.
 8.8  Hells Thicket, area of abundant laurel and scrub oak.
 9.1  Overlook towards west.
 9.4  Trail abuts communication tower access road.
 9.6  Rock overlook.
 9.8  Cross old jeep road.
10.4 WV state line.  Steep descent on switchbacks and rock steps.  Stay on trail.  (The planned relocation would have the Tuscarora Trail go straight ahead from this point.)
11.6 Lucas Woods Camp is on white-blazed trail to right.  Four tent sites, pavilion, privy, and a spring.  Good site in April/May for morels.
11.7 Cross woods road.
11.8 Turn left on dirt road.
11.9 Cross streamlet and bear right at fork in road.
12.2 Bear right at fork in road.
12.3 Bear right at fork in road and then cross streamlet.
12.4 Bear right at fork in road.
13.0 Turn left on Back Creek Road (CR 16/2).  Route 704 goes right.
13.2 Turn right at fork in road.
13.6 Turn left over low culvert across Loman Branch, down lightly graveled road that follows stream.  End of Section 2a.  GET and Tuscarora Trail continues west on gravel road.

 

Trail Description - South to North

Miles Detailed Trail Data
 0.0  See Parking #2.  Proceed straight ahead on blacktop road.
 0.4  Cross creek.  When road forks, keep left.
 0.6  Bear right on woods road for next 1.3 miles.
 1.2  Bear left at fork.
 1.3  Cross streamlet and bear left on fork.
 1.4  Bear left at fork.
 1.7  Bear left at fork and cross streamlet.
 1.8  Turn right leaving road.
 1.9  Cross woods road.
 2.0  Lucas Woods Camp is on white-blazed path to left.  Four tent sites, pavilion, privy, and a spring.  Good area for spring morel mushrooms.
 3.2  Top of ridge.  VA and WV state line.  (The planned relocation would have the Tuscarora Trail coming in from the right at this point.)
 3.8  Cross old jeep road.
 4.0  Rock overlook to left of trail.
 4.2  Trail abuts communication tower access road.
 4.5  Overlook towards west.
 4.8  Hells Thicket, area of abundant laurel and scrub oak.
 5.4  Cross power line and then intersection of Frye Path (blazed yellow).  Pinnacle Camp is to right, elevation 2300 feet.  (Spring is down east side of ridge. It may be dry for brief periods in fall.)  Rock Cave & Overlook Trail (white-blazed) on left leads to cave in rocks and views.  Rejoins Tuscarora Trail at the top.
 5.5  Rock Cave & Overlook Trail (white-blazed) on left leads to views and rock cave.
 5.5  Top of Pinnacle Ridge. Overlook to left of trail looking westward.  View of Back Creek Valley to Allegheny Front.  Excellent exposures of Tuscarora quartzites.
5.6  Ignore trail to left. 
 5.8  Cross old woods road.
 5.9  Short path to left to Pinnacle Shelter.  (Shelter complex consists of shelter, pavilion, privy and fireplace.    Spring is 0.1 mile down Tuscarora and to right.)  Enter Deep Hollow.
 6.2  Cross Laurel Run. Laurel Run Trail (white-blazed) on right.
 6.4  Double white blaze on tree marks unblazed path leading to good view of Cat Rock Cliffs and small waterfall on opposite side of gorge.  Leave Deep Hollow.
 6.5  Ignore unmarked path on right.
 7.1  Cross a series of large boulder fields in next mile or so.
 7.2  Biby  Wilderness Trail (white-blazed) on right leads to top of ridge and parking along Timber Ridge Trail.
 10.2 Cross woods road. 
 10.6 Cross same woods road.
 11.2 Turn left on woods road and almost immediately turn right into woods.
 11.7 Cross woods road.
 11.8 Turn right on woods road and pass under utility line clearing.
 12.0 Cross woods road
 12.2 Trail (white-blazed) on left leads to Barclays Run Campsite with tent sites, pavilion, picnic table, fire ring, and intermittent spring.
 12.3 Gore Connector Trail (white-blazed) on left leads to Gore, VA in 1.1 miles-grocery store, pay phone, gas, etc.
 12.5 Woods road on right.
 13.3 Ford Back Creek-low water crossing.  If Back Creek is not fordable, recommended option is to return to the Gore Connector Trail, mile point 12.3, and take it into Gore, then following Route 751 and US 50 eastward to mile point 13.6
13.6 Leave woods at southwest corner of US 50 bridge over Back Creek.


Trail Condition Report

GET Contents page

Guide to Section 1e (north)

Guide to Section 2b (south)

 

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