GET Section 5a Trail Report

August 12, 2018

The northern 2.1 miles (from US 33) of this section (trail on west side of ridge) was trimmed on June 23, 2018, the southern end of the Shenandoah Mountain North Trail was trimmed on July 21, 2018 from FR 85A to Bother Knob, and the trail from 2.1 miles from US 33 to a point 1.3 miles from Bother Knob was trimmed on August 10-11, 2018.  The 1.3 miles between Bother Knob and a big Stinging Nettle patch (both are trimmed) remains untrimmed, but that section needs it less than the others.  The way to go is pretty evident on the trail. There remain a few blowdowns--the biggest have been bypassed.  

 


October 9, 2010

US 33 at VA/WV state line to intersection of FDR 85 and 85A, 8.9 miles, including side trips
      This was a PATC hike led by Tom Johnson, part of a series of GET hikes. It is in Section 5a of the Great Eastern Trail, on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail.  It included a side trip to High Knob, and as we approached Bother Knob, we took a steep jeep trail down to the Bother Knob Access Road, and followed that road 2.4 miles to the end of the hike.  Those on the hike were Tom Johnson, Malcolm & Lynn Cameron, Michael Seth, Jim Sims, me, my dog Sid, and Tom's dog Sam.  Five others were with us to High Knob, and one of them came with us to the 1.9 mile mark, where the Trail reaches the ridge crest. 
      For the first (northernmost) 1.9 miles, the trail is on the west side of the mountain to avoid the private land on the crest.  After that, it is on the ridge crest to Bother Knob, then it continues on the ridge crest which turns east toward Flagpole Knob before descending to FDR 85A.  I had hiked the whole section from US 33 to VA 924 in 2006, before the GET Guidebook project. 
      Some observations:

  • This section of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail has not been maintained for some time--it has occasional blowdowns (one which we cleared) and is grown-in in many places.  
  • The trail to High Knob has a fair amount of hiker traffic.  We saw some other hikers to it, who planned to bring a larger group, and returning hikers in our group saw many more about to hike up.  The rest of the section is rarely hiked.  
  • On the crest of Shenandoah Mountain, the trail follows a grass road from mile 1.9 to 3.1.  At two places the road forks.  In the former, the forks come back together, and in the latter the make a big loop.  From there the trail continues as a footpath.  However, it is hard to find.  
  • There are several places where it is hard to tell where the trail goes.  There is one point about mile 1.3 where the trail crosses a forest road, and it looks like it joins it.  At this point we had a hiker go the wrong way and though he got back with the group on top of the ridge, another man in our group who went back to look for him had to be found, and this took 30 minutes to clear up.  At this same point, the first hiker in the group went the wrong way here, and had lost the trail at this point in an earlier hike.  There are no blazes through this part to indicate which way the trail goes, just the trail grade.  This part needs blazing bad.  
  • This section of trail is rougher than the rest of Shenandoah Mountain, and it has a lot of knobs with steep climbs along it.  
  • At mile 5.1, or 1.2 miles north of Bother Knob summit, there is a broad area suitable for camping that has a jeep trail that descends steeply (about 300' in 0.2 mile) to the end of the Bother Knob Access Road (FDR 85).  At this point is supposed to be the trailhead for Miller Run Trail.  There was a faint trail visible there, but there was no sign identifying it.  From there along the road it is 2.4 miles to the intersection with FDR 85A.  Supposedly, at mile 1.6 is where the Trails Illustrated map says is the trailhead of the Sugar Run Trail, but I saw nothing.  At 1.8 miles along the Bother Knob Access Road is the Bother Ridge Trail, which was a jeep trail with no identifying (or other) signs.  Across from it, I did see a trace of a trail leading up the ridge to the top of Bother Knob.  This trail is shown on the topographic map (Brandywine quadrangle) but it was not evident on top of Bother Knob when I was there before.  
  • There are a lot of fir trees along FDR 85 in this area.  They must have been planted, although they are not geometrically distributed--they look natural.  
  • Along the top of Shenandoah Mountain, there are a number of fields, most somewhat overgrown.  Other places are forested, mostly with a few old trees, then many younger ones.  There is a lot of Fetterbush (or is it Doghobble?) growing along this trail, sometimes growing into it, but other places still open.  There is some Mountain Laurel, but much more Fetterbush.  Also, among the secondary trees, I saw a lot of Hornbeams, but no Serviceberry (they seem to exclude each other).  
  • I saw no poison ivy on this hike. 


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