It is important to note that the SSVC recently entered into an agreement with the North River District of the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest to maintain many of the trails west of Staunton and Harrisonburg in that District. As a result of this agreement, work that the SSVC had been doing for several years will be tallied and submitted to the Forest Service. I have agreed to take on several of the trails in that district. They aren't the most convenient trails to my home, but many of them desperately need the work. So I signed up to be responsible for several of my favorites.
To get to the Maple Springs Trail, drive west on U.S. 33 from downtown Harrisonburg. Approximately 11 miles west of downtown is a road on the left to Rawley Springs. Take that road, being careful to watch for traffic coming in the other direction (sight distances are not great here), and follow it all the way to the back of the neighborhood. You will see some nice, kind of funky, houses along the drive. There is a parking lot in the back that holds about eight vehicles.
|Parking lot, complete with a guy tracking his bear dogs.
|Rocks next to parking lot.
The trail follows Gum Branch for the first 1.7 miles, crossing it multiple times. The trail can be rocky at times, and obviously, can be treacherous during times of high water. Follow the yellow blazes, freshly applied in the Summer of 2019.
For the first two miles, the elevation gain is relatively gradual. After the trail leaves the stream bed, it starts to climb. Over the next 3.2 miles, the trail gains nearly 2000 feet in elevation. The trail gets steep on occasion - it isn't for hikers who are out of shape. It averages a hefty 19% grade between miles 2.2 and 3.2.