Unsure of what I was getting myself into, I sped down I-66 to meet some friends to carpool our way to a part of the George Washington National Forrest that I had never been to before–Wolf Gap. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I expected rocks, but I had no idea how big they would be, or if the trails would just be scree and unrideable misfortune with some bushwhacking in between. I don’t hear a lot about people riding at Wolf Gap, so I figured there must be a reason and suspected it could be a lot like when you go wrong way at Elizabeth Furnace.
As it turns out, the only reason I can figure that every person in the D.C. area doesn’t ride out there is because it is a little far, and many people in the area sadly consider Fountainhead to be the epitome of mountain biking. I feel bad for those people.
Our ride was fantastic. It was no less than 20x better than my sorrowful ride at Fountainhead the next day. We started near Liberty Furnace in the P7 parking area, and headed straight up a nice long climb on SR 691, Judge Rye road. According to the map, this is Devil’s Hole Mountain. I have never heard of it, but that is a fairly ominous name. But that didn’t really matter since I left my map in the car. The climb was steady and took about 50 minutes. We rolled along the top of the ridge before turning right and hitting the first section of single track. To my surprise, there was an actual map here and fully blazed trails.
We headed off down a wonderfully rocky descent on the Long Mountain Trail. I’m sure if more people knew about this trail, everyone would ride it. It was the perfect combination of fun and challenging without being insane.
At the bottom we passed through the Trout Pond Campground that looked like a pretty nice place to camp. From there we got on the purple blazed Trout Pond Trail and headed to our next climb. This one was soul crushing. It wasn’t as long as the first one, but it was steep. It also offered some really great views of the surrounding peaks such as Spruce Knob. This picture was from the middle of the climb, not even the top.
From there we turned onto CR59 to the top of the North Mountain Trail. This is where the really crazy rocks started, but it was also accompanied by some very lovely views, and it was after a marshmallow Peep pit stop so everyone was in a lovely mood. We rode the ridge for awhile before heading down Stack Rock for the descent. It was steep and narrow, but aside from the super sharp switchbacks that I swear were nearly 360 degrees, it was a fun trail. However, this was actually a wrong turn, we were supposed to go down Falls Ridge, which would have been longer, more open, and not as steep.
I can’t wait to go back. I’d like to try again for the correct descent, but there are so many other trails in the area as well, some that I have even heard of. And this is all within a scenic 2 hour drive of Arlington. I have ambitions to get this ride mapped onto MTBproject.com so more people can experience this greatness, but I’m not sure when I’ll actually get to that. So for now, you will have to pull out your old fashioned paper Nat Geo map and get to it.