Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mines Run Trail, GWNF

This posting is part of my effort to document trails in the North River District of the George Washington National Forest that don't have much in the way of online descriptions.  If you are interested in hiking trails in this area, I recommend obtaining the book, "Shenandoah Mountain Trails: A Guide to Trails on Shenandoah Mountain in Rockingham and Augusta Counties, Virginia." The book is written by Timothy Hupp of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and can be ordered from the Club's online bookstore

The Mines Run Trail (MRT) is a trail that connects the Hone Quarry part of the GWNF North River District to the Reddish Knob area.  When used with several other trails in the area, it is possible to hike trails from the Hone Quarry Campground to the summit of Reddish Knob.

The Mines Run Trail has one trailhead accessible by car.  The MRT's southern end is on the Briery Branch Road (Va 924), better known as the road to Reddish Knob.  There is a brown hiker sign on the road, a little ways past the lake formed by the Briery Branch dam.  There is a turnoff here, but the area is very wet, so it is usually better simply to park at a wide spot on the road.

Mile 0.0 - The MRT starts at Briery Branch Road.  Head downhill slightly into an area with a dirt loop from the main road.  This area probably gets some car campers, but was very swampy when I traversed it.  The actual trail is in the back of the loop and heads north, away from the main road.

Mile 0.2 - The MRT makes its first of three crossings (each way) of Mines Run.  None of these crossings are very easy, so expect to get your feet wet.  On my way back, I gave up entirely and simply walked through the stream, knowing that I had dry shoes in the car.

Mile 0.4 - The MRT crosses back to the south side of Mines Run.


Mile 0.7 - If your feet aren't already wet, chances are that they will become wet now, as you make the third, and final, crossing of Mines Run.  Even where the trail is not crossing the stream it is very wet, with water flowing through channels made by mountain bikes.  Bikers no doubt maintain this trail, but they also use the trail when it is wet and their tires form channels which contribute to eroding the trail.


Mile 1.2 - The MRT is really two types of trail.  Up until now, it consists of a trail that follows an old road bed through very wet woods with little elevation gain.  At this point it changes direction dramatically in every way.  It takes a sharp right turn (do not stay on the old road following the stream), dries out completely, and heads steeply uphill for the rest of its length.  Up until this point, you have gained approximately 240 feet over 1.2 miles.  The rest of the trail gains 830 feet over 0.9 miles.

Mile 1.6 - Continue to climb, but be sure to look behind you as by now you have gained enough elevation.  Walking through an area that has burned in the recent past, it is now possible to see Reddish Knob and other high points surrounding the valley where you started your hike.


Mile 2.1 - The MRT ends at the ridge of Hone Quarry Mountain.  Turning either right or left here takes you on the Hone Quarry Mountain Trail (HQMT).  To the right, the HQMT takes you along the ridge before dropping off via either the Heartbreak Trail or the Big Hollow Trail to the Hone Quarry Campground.  To the left, the HQMT goes west for 3.3 miles before ending at FDR 85, a dirt forest road that is also part of the Great Eastern Trail route.  I followed the HQMT to the right.

Mile 3.0 -  I followed the Hone Quarry Mountain Trail for 0.9 mile along the ridge in order to meet up with the Big Hollow Trail, which I had hiked last year, ascending from Hone Quarry.  The HQMT has several relatively small ups and downs along the ridge and very nice views both into the valley to the south that I came from, and the Hone Quarry valley to the north.

The map below shows, in black, the route I took with other local trails in other colors.  My total ascent in this 6.1 mile out and back was 1540 feet. 


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