GET Section 5a Trail Report

October 24, 2015

I led a hike through this section--the trail was still clear.  There were a few blowdown that had to be cleared in the last two miles, where the trail is on the west side of the ridge. 


August 15, 2015

The final 1.8 mile of trail of this section was opened up.  Major blackberry patches, stinging nettle patches, and inreaching tree branches were cut back. 


August 1, 2015

The trail has been weed-whacked along the top of the ridge 2.1 to 3.3 miles from US 33, then trimmed an additional 0.3 mile. 


July 25, 2015

The trail has been weed-whacked from FDR 85A up Bother Knob to about 2.2 miles from the road.  Beyond this, there is high weed growth and a couple of places where it is hard to follow the trail.  I hope to be able to work on this soon. 


June 14, 2015

The trail has been cleared and weed-whacked from US 33 to the top of the knob about 2.4 miles in.  Beyond that, there is a lot of high grass and weeds. 

(A number of hikes and worktrips took place in 2013 and 2014.  The ends of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail have been trimmed, but parts in the middle are quite grown in, and a couple of places we lost the trail.  FDR 85A has become very rutted and I would not recommend it except for high clearance vehicles.)


September 15, 2012

Note - CR 25 is now open.  I believe they have paved the formerly gravel road. 

The Shenandoah Mountian North Trail was cleared from FDR 85A to the Bother Knob summit, about 1 mile.  That part had been rather grown in with blackberry and other plants.  Beyond this point, the trail is in forest and not so overgrown. 


July 21, 2012

The Shenandoah Mountain North Trail was cleared from US 33 south to the top of a knob 2.2 miles to the south.  This includes some high growth and grass on the ridge crest.  At the first split, I chose to trim the right fork. 

August 20, 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.  But it does close the western shuttle of this section.  Instead, go east and use VA 613 to connect VA 257 and US 33. 

Bother Knob loop, 3.6 miles
      This hike started along FDR 85 about 1.2 miles from Briery Branch Gap and about 0.4 mile from the intersection with FDR 85A and FDR 85-4.  It went north to the intersection with FDR 85A, and continued east to the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, then that trail to Bother Knob.  From there I took the abandoned trail down to the intersection of Bother Ridge Trail, then the Bother Knob Road back to my car.  This covered 2.4 miles of the GET, section 5a. 
      FDR 85 is a dirt and rock road with numerous puddles, which come from recent rains, but they weren't too bad.  FDR 85A looked about the same.  The road I walked on was no worse than the part I had driven on, but it looked like it would get worse past Shenandoah Mountain Trail. 
      There is a spring shown on the map on FDR 85A about 0.1 mile from FDR 85.  I found the pipe, but no water was coming out. 
      Shenandoah Mountain Trail was grown up with high grass, blackberry plants in some places, and some other plants.  There were no blowdowns, just a few low branches and trunks, some which I removed.  

July 30, 2011

Shenandoah Mountain Trail from US 33 to crest of ridge, 1.9 miles
      This is part of GET section 5a.  This was a vegetation clearing trip, and helping me were David Frye and Nancy Ruggles, and dogs Sid and Aslan were with us.  We cleared the graded trail of vegetation, although some overhead branches remain, especially closer to US 33, on the section High Knob hikers would hike.  Otherwise that section of trail is in very good shape. 

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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