GET Guidebook 2c

Edition 8/19/2013

Section 2c
Capon Springs Road to US 48/VA/WV 55
Distance 2.6 miles


Brief Description of the Section

    This section of the Tuscarora Trail runs from Capon Springs Road in the north to State Route 55/US 48 in the south.  Its lowest point is at the north end, Capon Springs Road (elevation 1000').  On the ridge, the trail peaks at approximately 2410'.
    Basically, it is a dry trail, so carry plenty of water.  There is water available at the Hawk Campground and Picnic Area at the northern end.  
    Carry a stove if you camp in the spring.  The Virginia brush laws allow open air fires from February 15 to April 30 only between 4 pm and midnight.  
    There is always at least a light breeze on the ridge top.
    Like much of the rest of the southern Tuscarora, the forest consists of predominantly oak and blackgum with a smattering of maple, hickory, and pine.  In this section, chokecherries dominate the shrub layer along with an introduced tall grass.  There are lady slippers and iris along the low-lying side trails.  In June the pink and white laurel, red columbine, lavender beardtongue, yellow rattlesnake weed and star grass bloom.  Later in the season, the false sunflower is commonly found throughout this section.  Along the ridgetop are grouse, great crested flycatchers, and indigo buntings.  Besides the usual blackberries, huckleberries, and blueberries, there are also smooth gooseberries.
    Whereas some of the trail is moss covered and cushioned with pine needles, there are many steep rocky sections with talus slopes to cross.  Most of the viewpoints are better in winter.
    For those wishing to camp, there are both group and individual accommodations at Hawk Recreation Area with the very basic facilities.  Water is provided at hand-pumped spigots and there are vault toilets.  There are 15 campsites with tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings and lantern poles.  There are 10 picnic sites complete with table and wood or charcoal grates.  Hawk is a no-fee area and is open on a seasonal basis, generally 4/3-10/15.  Adequate parking can be found here.  Primitive camping is also permitted off the trail anywhere in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.  Here are the camping regulations for this area:                                                      


 1. Camping is permitted in family and group campgrounds, and other reasonable places along the trail, where traffic is not impeded.  It is not permitted in the picnic area.  Observe posted regulations.
 2. Make small campfires in designated fireplaces or other safe locations.
 3. Clear the ground of flammable material within 4 feet of the fire.
 4. Use charcoal or camp stoves when possible.
 5. Campfires must be tended at all times and must be dead before campers leave.
 6. Report forest fires to the Lee Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Edinburg, VA, 540-984 4101 or 911.
 7. Protect natural scenery from defacement.  To preserve ground cover and prevent erosion, please refrain from cutting across trail switchbacks.
 8. Fishing and hunting are permitted.  State regulations apply.   State licenses and a National Forest stamp required.
 9. Carry out all unburnable trash.
10. Cover all body waste with 6 inches of soil.



  1. North end of section at Capon Springs Road.  Go west of VA 55/US 48 from I-81 Exit 296 near Strasburg for 12.3 miles.  Turn righ on Capon Springs Grad (VA 609) and go 1 mile to Dry Gap; parking on left.  
  2. On Route 55.  Go west on VA 55 (US 48) from I-81 Exit 296 near Strasburg, VA for 14 miles.  Just before crossing the top of Great North Mountain (VA WV line), park on the left side of the road.  The Tuscarora Trail crosses Route 55 at the top of the ridge.


 North to south: Go east on Capon Springs Road (VA 609) 1 mile (pavement ends, road becomes VA 609) to US 48/VA 55, turn right and go 1.8 miles. 
 South to north:  Go east on US 48/VA 55 1.8 miles, turn left on VA 609 and go about 1 mile. 


  PATC Map F
  USGS 7.5' Quadrangles: Mountain Falls, VA-WV;  Wardensville, WV-VA

Useful Information
  Emergency - In WV or VA, Dial 9-1-1


Trail Description - North to South

Miles Detailed Trail Data
 0.0   From Capon Springs Road at Dry Gap take trail west, then turn south and enter George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.  Follow trail to gain ridge top through chokecherry, bear oak, serviceberry, and chestnut oak.  
 0.5 Trail slides off ridge top to west side. 
 0.8 Turn left to regain ridge top.  Trail right leads approximately 1.2 miles to Hawk Campground.  
 1.2 Cross under cables leading right to communications tower on ridgeline.  Follow sharp ridgeline with several good views left towards Cold Spring Gap.  Notice the near vertical dip of Tuscarora sandstone.
 2.6  Cross Route 55 on West Virginia side of state line (elevation 2140 feet).  (Good shoulder parking to right at road leading north to communications tower.)  Ahead follow old ridgeline forest road through area of dense Minnie-bush.  GET continues across Route 55 into Section 3a.  (If you hike here in May, you will be treated to the unusual find of shooting stars about 0.5 mile south of Route 55.)


Trail Description - South to North

Miles Detailed Trail Data
 0.0  Cross Route 55 on West Virginia side of state line (elevation 2140 feet).  (Good shoulder parking to left at road leading north to communications tower.)  Ahead follow sharp ridgeline through chokecherry, bear oak, serviceberry, and chestnut oak with several good views of Cold Spring Gap to right.  Notice the near vertical dip of Tuscarora sandstone.
 1.5   Cross under cables leading left to communications tower on ridgeline.
 1.9   Intersection with trail leading 1.2 miles to Hawk Campground, to left.  Continue straight as trail shifts to left side of ridge.  
 2.6 Trail descends to Dry Gap at Capon Springs Road.  End of section; GET continues across road into Section 2b.  


Trail Condition Report

GET Contents page

Guide to Section 2b

Guide to Section 3a


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