This ride has a bit of everything including easy climbing, fast descents and technical rocky areas. It has one large rerouted section that is one of the highlights of the ride. There are some nice views on exposed ridgelines and a great overlook near the finish.
The ride uses a segment of the Oak Mountain Trail, a 25.6 mi loop. The OMT, designated a National Recreation Trail, traverses many of the ridgetops in the North River area.
There are plenty of accommodations nearby, but if camping, it's hard to beat the ride in/ride out option at Todd Lake Recreation Area which has showers and flush toilets. Campsites are first-come first served here though (no reservations).
This ride starts at the trailhead for Wild Oak Trail on Forest Road 95. Ride west from there and stay left (continuing on the pavement) when you get to the road leading to Todd Lake. Youll eventually start descending and reach the intersection with FR 95B. Ride past the campground on the left and look for the gated road on the left, Hankey Mountain Road
- FSR 425.
At the top of the doubletrack climb, youll be at a well-marked intersection with the Wild Oak Trail. If you're looking for more mileage, you can take a right here and ride on the doubletrack to Hankey Mountain. This ride stays left, following the Wild Oak Trail - Lookout Mountain. From this intersection the ride follows some old roads and a fairly wide corridor along the ridge for about 1.5 miles.
The next 1.5 miles have been rerouted to west side of the ridge (skirting Lookout Mountains main peak). Here, youll ride through some very progressively-built trail that passes through small boulderfields and a lot of rock. When this merges back on the ridge of Lookout Mountain the experience changes again as youll be on exposed ridgelines and eventually start a long descent.
The final descent off of Lookout drops about 800 feet in 3 miles and gets crazy fast in some sections. The trail gets into a plush forest as it gets closer to the North River. There are many technical sections here with some mossy slick rocks in places.
Dont miss the intersection for an overlook that forks left off of the main trail. This takes you to a cliffside with great views of the North River, Skidmore Fork, and Trimble Mountain.
At the bottom of the descent, youll arrive at a suspension bridge, and after crossing the river here youll have just a short bit of trail to finish the ride. Take a right on the pavement to the starting point.
Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) continues to make a huge impact on trails all over the Harrisonburg, VA region and particularly in the George Washington National Forest. Through SVBC's model partnership with the USFS, some amazing results have been produced. SVBC's work in the North River District of GWNF is ongoing, with the club maintaining even the remotest of trails. Also, monetary contributions secured through the RTP and other sources have funded projects a grand scale and optimized the riding experience.