Trail Report: 04/08/18 Gauley Ridge 423 – Gate Open

April 8, 2018

Today I went up to Turner Run / Gauley Ridge. The gate was open. I was thinking about it on my drive there actually, and realized in the years I have ridden up there I have only been there during the winter, when the gate is closed. I was wondering if the gate would be open, knowing most gates in the area open April 1st and some the 15th. I had already decided to drive in if it was open. So when I got there and it was open I kept on driving with a big ol grin on my face.

I drove in till just past my usual farthest riding point. I have ridden further, but rarely and not this winter. There’s so much to explore back there it’s hard to get too much farther with that gate closed. The roads connect down to Vepco off Little Dry River Rd and also to Slate Lick. It’s a very extensive network.

I was so excited driving in I didn’t even note how long it took me but I did on the way out. 25 minutes almost exactly from where I parked to the gate. It’s not a bad road. Not many potholes. But it is bumpy with small rocks. So that part is a little sucky. Not something to do all the time. But today it was totally worth it.

So I parked at a small pull over on the left. It had enough room for me to pull in, back up and turn around easily and then park facing out. There was a small camp fire rock pile there. Directly across from the spot on the right hand side of the road was an old old logging road that wound up and forward. I checked it out very briefly but it was pretty over grown and I had too much exploring to do to mess with it.

Above is a photo of the open gate as I drove on in! Woo!

After a bit there was a camp circle to the right. I do remember this from maybe two or three winters ago. There is a small cross and fake flowers marking a grave and a big rock fire pit. There is also a trail to the left of the camp site. I rode this years ago. It wonders up to side fire road. I note this in the video blog.

423a Gate Mountain. This is a side fire road on the right. I also remember this from the past. It works down pleasantly and ends at private property and a closed private gate. It’s nice and clear and obviously used. Shortly after the start there is a camp spot to the right and a trail that pops out above it over a berm. This is the trail that rides to the previous camp circle.

So back up to the main fire road and on we went. Eventually there were quite a few fields off to the left and lots of amazing views. This is my furthest point. I have not ridden past this point yet. So eeee how exciting! I cruised on.

I cant say enough how fantastic the views are pretty much everywhere I ride around here. It is mountain riding so you expect amazing mountainous views. The photos and videos just can’t even touch on them.

above is a photo of some of the fresh green buds on bushes. Fresh growth was everywhere.

On we went past the fields, lots of fields. Still nice solid clear and level roads. Easy cruising. There was some clear and obvious maintenance recently performed in the form of trees cleared from the road.

This little turn to the left led just over that rise to a small clearing. Nothing fancy.

Soon I came to another open gate and just past that was a Split in the road with open gates in both directions. So many possibilities.

Time to break out the map. You can spot the three orange gates real close together in the middle of the map, that’s the gate trifecta we found ourselves at.

To the right leads to Vepco and Little Dry River Rd. When I say that, it’s not close, we are talking miles and miles, nothing I would expect to ride in a session. And ahead turned out to also become Vepco.

Decisions decisions. Ahead had two trails marked coming off it. One specifically leading directly to Slate Lick. In a whim I decided to go forward.

Which quickly came to another unmarked but very clear road branching to the right that was not on the map. I assumed it led to the power lines which were just ahead. And I was right. So again an amazing over look in all directions.

I also found a trail down at the bottom of the clearing just past and below the power line, at the end of the road. I decided to check it out thinking it was probably a short ride to an over look.

The trail turned out to be a very prominent and solid trail. This was not a glorified deer trail or some hunter path. This was a legit hiking trail. I followed it for quite a ways. It was clear and pleasant. No blazes, flags or markings of any kind but still a solid trail.

After a while I decided to call it for the day and turn around. The trail was still going strong and clear. I am interested to explore it more some day.

on the way back I saw a white truck over the rise on the road and Simon got so excited. He whinnied over and over to the truck and wanted to chase it down. We were already trotting and gaining on it as they were slowly taking in the views along the open fields. We eventually caught up and passed them with a wave.

A bit later back into the woods they caught up with us and stopped to say hello. Simon was welcomed to stick his nose in the truck to say hello to their daughter, which we know he was excited to do. We had a quick friendly hello and went on our ways.

Twice later I passed enduro/dirt bike riders. I am going to assume the family in the truck stopped and let them know to expect a horse behind them because both times the dirt bike riders were waiting, bikes turned off, with smiles on their faces.

I thanked both groups for waiting for me to pass and wished them a pleasant day. What can I say but how amazing was that? I mean, this is proper trail protocol. Motorized bikes/quads are supposed to turn off and allow horses to pass. But the politeness and smiles I received, just wow. And the kindness of the family to give the guys a heads up to expect me. Sometimes the woods just brings out the good in people.

Which is something nice to be touched with in National Forest. On occasion you hear horror stories of criminals and crazies hiding out in NF and I have been warned by many to be aware of my surroundings, and to take much stronger precautions. So being greeted by such friendly and considerate people three times in one day is heart touching. Especially when I very rarely see anyone on a ride in these woods.

In part this is because I am mainly in the woods over the cold winter when others avoid the woods. And I also prefer areas that are less popular because I like being out there alone. Anyway I digress.

Simon continued to whinny to the truck for a while. He even tossed his head a few times. Silly pony. Soon we were back to the trailer and headed back out.

This was an awesome ride and I am excited to have another drive in adventure sometime in the near future. I think next time I’ll head in to the fields to park. It will probably add an additional five minutes to my drive but will be worth it. There is so much to explore back there. The Vepco road that branches to the right split a ways down again, adding even more to explore.

Video blog part 1

Video blog part 2

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1 Comment

  1. WOW these trails are so beautiful!


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