Trail Report: North River Gorge 538

May 12, 2018

Today I teamed up with some mounted games friends, Carol Ann and Natalie and we headed south into Augusta County. I admittedly have not been into this area since I moved to northern Rockingham about four years ago. It used to be my regular trail riding grounds, Bear Trap was my hands down favorite loop ever.

Note to self – go ride Bear Trap soon!

I have not ridden the Gorge in probably ten years. It is one of the most popular rides in the area. Particularly on hot days because the usual loop has eleven or twelve creek crossings. It’s about a 12 mile loop, with some super nice, move along footing down the bottom loop, a nice big climb on a closed fire road, and then some rocky navigation through the mountains with some nice views. The first half of the ride makes it easy to get some good moving pace and speed, and the second half is slower.

It does go through a more populated area than I usually hit up. There are people fishing and camping. We saw two guys hiking out with quite a few trout today. These are stocked waters so good fishing and eating. And we saw quite a few campers.

Parking: There is a pull over on the side of the road, long enough for three long rigs, probably more, just before the entrance we used. We started in from the road, not at the camp grounds, which is also a starting point with a pull over spot.

There is a small pull off the road camp space where we parked right next to the entrance. This is not to be confused with the actual camp grounds. We entered at 538 North River Gorge, closed gate, go over a creek crossing almost immediately.

There are a couple ways to do this ride, the loops can be done in the opposite order, or started from different points, including approached from the other side of the mountain.

I forgot to start the tracker for about .2 so adding that to our total. You can see the blue dot is our supposed start vs the red where we actually started/stopped. This also added about 5 minutes. We were moving out in the start.

This photo is of the entrance. I am sitting on Simon and he is standing on the road for it. So nice smooth, clear, obvious entrance in. You can see the closed gate in the background, which is marked on the map. There is a creek just beyond it.

The first one is shallow but the second one was moving quite quickly and pushed Daisy a bit. Daisy had to swim at that one and a few others. This was also Daisy’s first ride out since her knee surgery back in January. It was probably not the best ride for her to go out on but I could not leave her home again. It’s been breaking my heart to leave her all winter.

Daisy has always gone with me and has maintained an extreme level of fitness due to all her riding with me. She was actually deemed by the vet last fall as being too active when I took her in for a check up worried about her being off her food a little. But four months off and Daisy is not conditioned. Poor girl.

Carol Ann and Natalie were so kind and understanding. We had to wait for her to catch up a few times and let her have a moments rest a few times. The swimming and racing up hill really kicked her butt.

The creeks were refreshing. Back and forth over them. Trot and canter in between. A nice quick first half of the ride.

We eventually popped out by the North River Camp Ground, made a left behind it and then turned left onto the fire road, closed gate, 425 Hankey Mountain.

This is a rather long winding fire road up the mountain. I don’t remember it being so long. It was a nice trot canter up. After a point we pulled up to wait for Daisy. It’s a good move out point so I decided to keep it slower for her and just met Carol Ann and Natalie at the top. Simon was happy to walk and trot on up with Daisy but hilariously whinnied to his horse friends a few times. Silly boy.

So left we go onto 425A Overlook Mountain.

And then left at 716. There are several trails that branch off as you can see on the map.

Around here is where the trail starts to get a bit rockier and narrower and slower.

It’s more of a slower ride at this point. Lots of nice views. The trail mostly wraps along the top and side of the mountain. I attempted to video some of the rockier parts but they never really show it all that well. Nor can the views really be captured all that well either.

Eventually the trail starts to wrap back down. Some more rocks. At some points it makes me feel like someone did a terrible job of trying to put in over sized cobblestones.

Finally at the bottom, the trail literally drops out, onto a flat trail. Make a left.

Back on a nice wide flat trail, well maintained and smooth, zip a little ways till the first right hand turn over the creek and then along to the final crossing and back to parking.

It was a really fun ride. Good company and an excellent pony.

Simon was on a pretty good diet late this winter and lost about 4 girth holes which seems to have made a huge difference in his energy level. He was a ball of energy for the first couple miles and bucked along for the first mile or so. He still had plenty of pep at the end.

A quick video of some of the ride.

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