Trail Report: New Market

June 26, 2019

Sunday was gorgeous and I decided sort of on a whim to run out and go on a quickish ride. I followed the highlighted trail in the image below.

This is a trail I have messed around on, checking out side trails before but never really took on the loop. I admit I did not think too much about it and just dove at the opportunity to check out some new trails. I did not realize the loop was 12 miles or how challenging it would be.

Parking: For this ride I parked at the paved lot on the side of rt211 on the east side of the mountain. After racking up I crossed over rt211, Simon in one hand and Daisy on a leash in the other. On the other side is a pass between two hills. There is a closed fire gate with a little wooden foot bridge over the gutter on the side of the gate. I let Daisy off her leash but kept her with me until after this point and then climbed on Simon.

This is trail 410 and this part of the trail is really nice. It’s wide and clear and a bit rolling. It’s a good area to move out.

On this ride there was a section that smelled strongly of skunk. And later Daisy pointed out a turtle.

Eventually the trail makes a left hand turn, following the white blaze. Shortly before the two mile mark the smooth trail of 410 turns into more of a mountain track. And shortly after that this trail comes to a three way junction and orange blaze of Massanutten trail 408.

I took the right hand track into Massanutten Trail 408 (note how unhelpful the trail signs vs the trail map are at matching up). It is a decent although challenging hiking trail. And I checked the map that it is a multi use trail and open to horses. It is. I consider this portion of the trail to be a much more advanced riding trail. Some portions were narrow with drop offs and with an abundance of knee knockers, often at the narrowest points. There were some big jump ups and some extended climbs to navigate. Simon’s a good little climber and he kept his footing nicely on the narrow sections.

There was one point during an uphill climb that the trail passed over some boulders. I dismounted and climbed over using my hands and feet and Simon climbed along behind me playing the part of a billy goat. I wish I could have gotten a photo or better yet, a video of him navigating this section but my hands were way too busy. I would not consider this portion of the trail equine friendly at all and I did not see anyway to work around it. The Boulder section was probably a good 60 feet long to navigate.

The trail climbed and eventually we came to a left hand turn in the trail and on and up we went. By this point I was debating turning around. This was turning into a longer ride than I was prepared for. But with all the uphill and challenging sections I decided going back would be even harder.

Onward! And finally the trail came to a four way intersection. I admit I sighed in relief. I spent a moment comparing my map to my GPS to the trail signs and decided I was where I thought I was and I needed to make a hard left onto 555 Scothorn Gap Trail. And that yep, this trail was longer than Simon, Daisy, or I should be taking on.

I also met some people out on a hike. We stopped and chatted and compared what to expect ahead. They were hoping to find an amazing view or something of note. I thought of them miles later when I came across some memorable views.

I headed on 555 which was generally down hill but not too steeply. It was a wider, simpler trail. There was older burn to the right as I went down which opened to some ok views. Eventually the trail ended at a creek and to a small parking area off Crisman.

I made a left and rode along Crisman for way too long. I got off and hiked for a bit. But the road just seemed to never end. Finally I came to 408 Massanutten Trail and bore left off of Crisman. The initial part of the trail through here is amazing. It’s somewhat narrow but surrounded on both sides by bushes and wild blueberries.

This loveliness ends abruptly in a steep down hill climb. I dismounted here, and wishing I had on my riding sneakers vs my smooth bottomed riding boots, I clambered down the mountain, using tree branches to help me down. Meanwhile Simon bill-goated along behind me, munching on leaves.

This downhill seemed to go on forever and took forever. When we finally made it down the mountain it rolled right out at the split closing the loop. Ah, just little over two miles to go and after a very brief climb it would be easy trail too. Again I sighed in relief.

I made a right onto 410 the Massanutten connector trail (note again no match up in names and numbers from trail map to trail sign) and hit the homeward stretch. Coming up from the split and just about creating the final small climb Simon smashed off trail and into the some briars. He loves to run through underbrush to scratch his belly and this often runs me into briars. Which it did, I yelled at him and yanked him back over to the trail. Unfortunately the rein wrapped around my ring finger on my left hand and I felt a snap.

Yep, I broke my finger.

Let me finish this report up by stating that I had about two miles left to go and luckily I had cell reception and my loving husband picked up when I called and rushed out to meet me at the trail head. I’ll detail the finger on my next post.

The ride was grueling and a real work out. I am glad I went the direction on the loop I did, and wouldn’t recommend the other direction. I wouldn’t have been comfortable on a different pony either. And it’s also not a trail I am excited to go try again. I would like to check out some of the ones down Crisman though.

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