Potomac Appalachian Trail Club - Charlottesville Chapter

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The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club - Charlottesville Chapter is the local chapter, founded in 1986, of the Vienna, Virginia-based Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC).[1]

The Charlottesville Chapter hosts Saturday hikes in Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway, and in other regional areas. Hikes meet at 9 o'clock every Saturday morning in the parking lot in front of Albemarle High School, on Hydraulic Road in Charlottesville. The club devotes one Saturday each month to trail maintenance: clipping brush, removing fallen trees, clearing waterbars, painting blazes, etc.[2]

About the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club

In 1927, six men met in the nation’s capital and agreed to form the PATC, dedicated to support two objectives: The Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. In 1927, neither the trail nor the park existed.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the PATC manages 1,250 miles of public hiking trails in four states and the District of Columbia. PATC supports Shenandoah National Park today and also works with the Appalachian Trail Park Office of the National Park Service, the Jefferson & George Washington National Forests, and state and local park authorities.

All of this is due to the extraordinary efforts of some very extraordinary people - 6,700 of such people, to date. If you hike or go backpacking in this region, the chances are good that the tread upon which you trod was prepared and is maintained by PATC. PATC members volunteer thousands of hours of their own time each year to clear brush and blown-down trees from the trails, paint the blazes and set the signs you use to follow the trails. PATC acquires land for parking areas near trailhead junctions, builds and maintains the shelters thousands use each year to rest overnight while on their journeys.

PATC is a founding member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy -- one of 30 trail clubs that work along the length and breadth of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail under a unique agreement with the National Park Service to maintain and manage the entire 2,100 mile Trail.[3]

Hike Schedule

The Charlottesville chapter, hosts Saturday hikes in Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, along Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or in other regional areas. We also perform trail maintenance on a section of the Appalachian Trail in the South District of Shenandoah National Park and individual chapter members perform maintenance on "Blue Blazed" side trails in the park.

Hikes may be cancelled or changed because of weather or other factors.

Hikers meet at 9 o'clock every Saturday morning in the parking lot in front of Albemarle High School, on Hydraulic Road, in Charlottesville.

The hike leader can decide that a person will not go on a hike for factors such as inadequate equipment or supplies, physical condition inadequate for hike, behavior inconsistent with the smooth conduct of the hike.

Dogs may be allowed on hikes at the discretion of the Hike Leader, although there are a few trails in Shenandoah National Park, such as Old Rag and Dark Hollow Falls, where dogs are never allowed. Dogs must be restrained by a leash at all times in Shenandoah National Park.

Hikers carpool to the trail head. Riders are expected to offer drivers $4 depending on distance and fuel price; however, the hike leader can determine an appropriate contribution, which may increase with fuel prices and distance driven.

Hike leaders:

  • Lindsay Brown 434-973-2343
  • Jere Bidwell 434-295 2143 jbidwell10[at domain]earthlink.net
  • John Shannon 434-293-2953 johnsha[at domain]cstone.net
  • Eric Bredo 434-296-5520
  • Debra Fisher djfisher1312[at domain]earthlink.net
  • Iva Gillet 434-985-9854 cell 434-409-6203: iva3[at domain]virginia.edu
  • Ken Moss 434-978-7980

April 3: Bear Church Rock, 8.5 miles. Leader: Eric Bredo. This out-and-back hike follows the Staunton River trail with a gentle climb for a couple of miles before heading uphill more steeply towards Jones Mountain and a rocky overlook, and Bear Church Rocks 0.1 mile further along. 2135’ elevation gain. Directions: Take 29N. South of Madison, turn left at lights at Sheetz onto Route 230. Go west 4 miles to Wolftown. Turn right on 662; go about 5.5 miles to Graves Mill, and turn right past bridge staying on 662; road ends at parking area. 10.5 miles from Rt. 29 to parking area

April 10: Three Ridges, 8-10 miles. Leader: Lindsay Brown. 2100’ climb for the day, in segments, majority in the morning. This out-and-back hike on the AT has places to look down on the surrounding country. Lunch is usually on a rocky overlook of the Tye River Valley. Going to Three Ridges summit adds 1.6 miles and 300’ of climb to the hike. Stream crossings are minor. Directions: Go west on I-64 to Rockfish Gap. Go south on Blue Ridge Parkway almost 14 miles to Reeds Gap at the intersection with Rt. 664.

April 17: Trail MaintenanceAT, Rockfish Gap, paint a few new blazes near the new entry station trail, a little waterbar cleaning, perhaps some waterbar cleaning at McCormick Gap Then probably on to Doyles River to continue drainage improvements on a section of AT there. Probably not a lot of pruning or blow down removal, McLeods and picks mainly. Andy Willgruber will remove fallen trees from the track to Little Calf Mountain using a chain saw. He wants one or two people to help move things after they are cut.

April 18: Flying McLeods. Trail regrading on the AT, SNP South District. The crew regrades trails to repair erosion damage and shapes the trail to slow future erosion. Participants get a 2010 T-shirt. Boots, long pants, gloves, eye protection required; hard hats and tools provided. More details will be announced by e-mail and on southshenandoah.net, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact crew leader Mark Gatewood mwgatewood@gmail.com 540-248-0442. John Shannon often attends. Meeting times are earlier than our hikes. On today’s outing, we’ll be helping a school group construct new trail near Schairer Trail Center.

April 24: The Priest/Crabtree Falls, 9.4 miles. Leader: Jere Bidwell. A climb from Tye River Valley on the AT offers overlooks of surrounding country as we climb 3050’ above our starting point, followed by a descent beside the waterfalls of Crabtree Falls. Car shuttle required; parking fee at Crabtree Falls. It is unlikely this hike will be canceled by snow as it was earlier this year; however, it can be cool on an overcast spring day. Directions: Take Rt. 29S past Lovingston to Rt. 56W. Follow Rt. 56W for approximately 10-15 miles, or go about 1 mile on 56, right on 655 to 151, left, go 100 yards across the Tye River, and right on 56. Parking lot is above Rt. 56, left-hand side about 1-2 miles past Tyro. Look for hiker sign along side of Rt. 56.

May 1: Jones Run-Doyles River, 8.5 miles. Leaders: Ken Moss and Lindsay Brown. From Jones Run parking lot, descend 1000’ on Jones Run trail, climb to the falls on Doyles River Trail, then to the AT and back south to parking lot. Directions: I-64 west to Rockfish Gap, north about 21 miles on Skyline Drive to Jones Run parking on the right.

May 8: Old Rag, 9 miles. Leader: Eric Bredo. This is one of Eric’s favorite hikes, and it may be the last he leads for us. This popular circuit is about 9 miles, with a 2200-foot climb and rock scramble plus great views. This is not your normal hike, requiring hikers to squish under, hurtle themselves over, and propel themselves through and around rocks--a fun adventure, and not serious rock climbing. Gloves recommended for rock scrambling. Trekking poles can get in the way over rocks. Traffic delays normal at a couple of spots on the trail. Directions: Take 29N to Madison, then Rt. 231 through Banco and Etlan. Turn west onto Rt. 602 (look for sign to Old Rag), which becomes 707, then Rt, 600 through Nethers, 3.5 miles from 231. We’ll park in the large Old Rag parking area. Park pass or entrance fee required.

May 15: Mt Pleasant-Cold Mountain, 5-mile and 10-mile versions. Leaders: Iva Gillet, Ken Moss, Erick Clepper. This hike is in the beautiful Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area. Some climbing to the top of Mt. Pleasant, where we'll enjoy lunch from the rock outcropping at the summit. After lunch we will complete the loop trail. The 5-mile hikers will head back to the starting point. The longer hike will head down and up to Cowcamp Gap Shelter on Hotel Trail then climb another 500 feet on the AT to Cole/Cold Mountain, which will offer a spectacular panoramic view before going downhill to the cars. Directions: Take Rt. 29S to Amherst. Go west on Rt. 60 to Rt. 634 (about 1 mile from the Long Mt. Wayside; sign to Mt. Pleasant). Turn right onto Rt. 634. Go about 2 miles, then turn/veer right uphill onto Rt. 755, which is unpaved and a little rough (sign to Mt. Pleasant). Follow road uphill to parking lot at Hog Camp Gap. Road to trailhead is rough--passable in an ordinary sedan but easy to bottom out.

May 15: Flying McLeods. See April 18’s listing for information.

May 22: Appalachian Trail maintenance followed by South District Overseers Picnic at Dundo Picnic Grounds. Don White, Appalachian Trail District Manager, South District, SNP, continues his annual tradition of a picnic for AT overseers. Because the Charlottesville Chapter is the overseer of a section, all members are eligible to attend. We will be doing some maintenance on the AT first, possibly the chapter’s section, or sections of individual overseers. Andy Willgruber may want help mowing the top of Little Calf Mountain. Other projects might entail clipping back overgrowth, trail regrading/waterbar maintenance. You can also go just for the food, but you need to register at www.southshenandoah.net, where you will find a description of what is provided and what you should bring.

May 29: South River Falls, 5 miles to falls and back, 10 miles for circuit. Leaders: Iva Gillet and John Shannon. We’ll descend to the base of South River Falls before heading back up (4-5 miles) or heading off along South River Fire Road to a cemetery (optional side trip), then Pocosin Trail past Pocosin Mission. Return along AT. 1800-foot climb. Some small stream crossings. Directions: Rt. 29N to Ruckersville, left on Rt. 33 to Swift Run Gap. Pass through entrance station, turn left, go 2.5 miles to South River picnic grounds.

June 5: St. Marys River Trail and Bald Mountain Trail, rhododendron walk, 10 miles. Leaders: Ken Moss and John Shannon. Some stream crossings, usually crossed by rock hopping. Unblazed, overgrown trails, and a possible short bushwhack/shortcut for extra wilderness experience. Lots of flowers hoped for. There is a long climb late morning; other-wise, this hike does not seem hard despite the distance. Did we do this hike a year ago? Yes. Did we do this hike two years ago? Yes. And before that? Yes, Why? Besides of the highlights noted above. Directions: Head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to near MP23; Fork Mt. Overlook is just north of the trail parking area, which is on the right when headed south; 47 miles each way.

June 12: Reddish Knob, 11 miles. Leader: Erick Clepper. This is one of my favorite hikes, but it’s not for the faint of heart. There’s a significant drive to get there and a somewhat tricky place to park. The parking area is a pulloff, and other trails leave from this area, so it is not impossible to find. Please note: This will be a LONG day. Bring water for a long summer day; dinner stops on way home possible. A little background: Reddish Knob is the highest peak anywhere in Northern/Central Virginia. It is right on the border of West Virginia and offers an amazing panoramic view that cannot be equaled as it summits at 4397 feet in elevation. We’ll begin by walking on a public dirt road that goes back to a hunting camp. From there we climb the Lynn Trail to the Wolf Ridge Trail, which takes us to the Timber Ridge Trail and up to the summit for a total of 2200 feet of elevation gain. The Timber Ridge Trail provides miles of ridge walking at high elevation. Once we reach it, there isn’t a lot of elevation gain left. The climb on the other two trails is not terribly difficult, but it is steady. Once, on the Timber Ridge Trail, I was walking in the clouds and there was a thunderstorm beneath me! The summit is accessible by car and has a parking lot at the top where people take photos. It is not the most beautiful parking lot, but that aside, the view is amazing. So come on out and enjoy some fun in the sun on this wonderful hike. Directions: take I-64W to I-81N at Staunton. Get off I-81 at the Mount Crawford/ Bridgewater exit (exit 240), and head west on Rt. 257. We go through Bridgewater and continue north on US 257W/US 42N towards Dayton. After about 6 miles, we veer left, staying on US 257 and head west to the mountains. Continue on US 257 until it turns into Briery Branch Rd, SR 924. We follow this west for about 7 miles, passing the small Briery Branch Reservoir on our left. From there go about a half-mile, and park in the pulloff on the right side of the road. This parking area is where the Mines Run Trail begins. After parking, we walk back across the road and down the dirt road mentioned in the beginning of this description. After a mile, there is a trailhead, and the fun begins. At least one site finds Briery Branch Reservoir, which is near the starting point. An alternate route through Churchville and Stokesville, which we have used getting to this area in the past, is slightly shorter but takes a little longer, with some travel on dirt roads but less travel on I-81. Google Maps travel time about 1 hr 40min. Travel distance: about 80 miles. My cell phone number is 717-368-3424, and there is coverage most if not all of the way.

June 19: Fridley Gap, Massanutten, 7-mile loop (but will probably seem longer). Leader: Michael Seth. This hike will involve a short, steep ascent up Second Mountain to a meadows, then a descent through a shaded forest, a modest stream crossing, a steep ascent up Grubbs Knob, a descent to Fridley Gap, another stream crossing, a short but steep ascent up Third Mountain and a shorter descent, then a walk along a fairly open woods and a final short but steep descent. Features: A variety of landscapes, some good views to the east and west, and an opportunity to climb three mountains in seven miles. Directions: From Swift Run Gap, continue on 33 to 340 then turn north on 340 about four miles to Shenandoah (the town); take 602 next to McDonald's for 4 miles, and turn on Runckles Gap Rd. two miles to Cub Run. Drive about about a mile and a half on this gravel forest road to Fridley Gap Trailhead (purple blaze).

June 19: Flying McLeods. See April 18 for information, including getting more recent information on plans for the day.

June 26: Trail maintenance. Time for summer mowing, cutting, clipping. By now, summer growth will probably be encroaching on trails.

July 3: St Marys River – pools, 5 miles. Leader: Iva Gillet. A short hike to a pool. Those who like to can take a big jump off a rock to enter the pool with a big splash. Because of Forest Service regulations, we may have to split a group of more than 10. Very little climb, but stream crossings. There will be ice cream after the hike, somewhere. Directions: Of the three routes, the editor’s suggestion (which does not go past Hersheys) is to take I-64 to Stuarts Draft exit. Head south about 5 miles on Rt. 340 to Stuarts Draft. Continue on Rt. 340 through traffic lights for 6.6 miles to junction with Rt. 11. Bear left; go another 1.5 miles to Greenville. Continue another 6 or 7 miles to Rt. 667, and turn left to head roughly east. The road descends into a valley; this segment is about 2 miles. Turn left at the junction with Rt. 608 and pass under railway. Within about half a mile, turn right on forest route 41; There are some houses at the beginning. Rt. 42 turns left in about 0.5 mile; stay straight on forest route 41, unpaved for about 1.5 miles. 50.9 miles total.

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References

  1. http://patc.avenue.org/about.htm
  2. http://patc.avenue.org/
  3. Brochure: Does the Trail Beckon?, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Vienna, VA, 2006

External Links