The Wallace Tract Trail connects Sugartree Road on the western slope of Shenandoah Mountain with the Cowpasture River south of Williamsville, off of Indian Draft Road. (Map.) I had the trail's supposed route loaded into my GPS receiver when I hiked this. There is no way I could have followed the trail without it.
I started from the western end, at a parking area at the end of FR 282, south of Williamsville.
Mile 0.0 - Start the hike by passing a closed gate. You drop down to a field along the woods road. Stay to the left and look for the suspension bridge over the Cowpasture River.
Mile 0.2 - Cross the suspension bridge. As of this writing, that bridge is a little scary! There was a gap in the footing that had been repaired in a very sketchy manner. The bridge listed to the right as I crossed.
Mile 1.3 - Pass an old road that comes up from the right. The trail actually goes left here, but it is impossible to tell as there is no marking or visible trail. I came back this way and will describe it later, but continued up the road at this point.
Mile 1.6 - I had realized as I climbed that my route had separated from the trail track on my GPS. There were no yellow blazes. The road curved back to the track, where I found evidence of an old road crossing. I took the old road uphill, as shown in the photo below.
The trail itself, as shown in the photo above, was in nice shape.
Mile 1.7 - But it quickly merged back into the main road, making it really not worth pursuing. The GPS track followed the road for the rest of the way, making me think that the trail has always been the road but that the road itself had been upgraded at some point in the past. The yellow blazes continued along the road and there were occasional winter views back into the valley.
Mile 2.8 - The trail ends at a closed gate a couple hundred feet west of Sugartree Road. Next to the gate is a metal trail sign.
The gate itself had a surprising sign.
This is what the Forest Service has apparently come to. Instead of fixing the bridge, just put up a sign saying it was closed! And, when I returned to the bridge, there was evidence of pink tape blocking the bridge at one point. I'm guessing a citizen "jury rigged" the bridge to make it passable (not necessarily safe), and pulled the tape.
I turned around here, and further down went off the road to follow the original trail route, which was blazed and crossed a couple of streams deep in the woods.
It was actually very pretty down here, but the trail then climbed out through a treeless area that was covered with thorny raspberry vines. No fun! If you ever go here, stay on the road. I'm guessing that the Forest Service, if they ever even think about this trail (a big stretch...) figure hikers would simply take the woods road. Looking back from the road at the point where the trail splits off, there is absolutely no way to tell that a trail goes left off of the road, as seen in the photo below. The trail's route goes right through the center of this photo.
Mile 5.2 - Recross the suspension bridge, fingers crossed.
Mile 5.5 - Return to the parking area.
As stated at the beginning of this writeup, I hiked this "trail" because I'm close to completing every trail in the North River Ranger District. I cannot tell you what the best trail in the district is - there are several fantastic choices. On the other end of that list is the Wallace Tract Trail - the current clear leader for worst trail in the district. Not recommended.
Update: I questioned on this hike whether the trail follows the road on its eastern portions. I have been playing with CalTopo and overlaid my GPS track on the USFS map. Shown below, the GPS track in black does not track the current trail, but the road does.