Home Sign in with Facebook
or Login with Email


Rush Creek Loop

Consensus:    (details)
 4.0 from 2 votes
  Intermediate/Difficult from 1 vote
Your Opinion:
Rating: -none- change
Rank: #1 in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
#18 in Virginia
#628 Overall
Featured Ride near
“A variety of trails in the Rush Creek area of the Iron Mountains.”
Paul Stahlschmidt on Feb 5, 2014
Getting There     GPX File     Print
13.7 Miles 85% Singletrack 2,461’ Ascent -2,451’ Descent 2,733’ Low 3,773’ High
This ride is just a sampling of the miles of trail rides in the Iron Mountain Range of SW Virginia's Jefferson National Forest. This is rural terrain that requires navigation skills and other preparation for the backcountry.
Need To Know
Signage is present, but some intersections are not marked. Beartree is a nice ride-in, ride-out place to camp (seasonal). Nearby Damascus, VA has other accommodations and amenities. See the Iron Mountain trail description for more info on the area. FS 90, an established road, intersects the ride, and can be used as a bailout if needed. Trails Illustrated Mount Rogers NRA Map (#786) can be used when as well as the MTB Project mobile app.
Start this ride with Beartree Gap trail (4545) at the Beartree campground off of US 58. This climb is steady, but has one notable steep section around 1.5 mi in. Remember this on the return because it comes up quickly descending and has some large rocks and death cookies in the ditch.

Follow the climb for just over 2 miles (and 700 ft.) to Shaw Gap, at the intersection of Iron Mountain (301) and Shaw Gap (4545) trails. This is a good place to take a break if needed. The ride will return to this spot from the left (West), and continue the way you just came.

Chestnut Ridge (4542) starts on the North Side of the mountain. This trail drops initially, then has a short climb before dropping a ripping descent about 800 ft. in the final mile.

Regroup at the bottom and take the dirt road (FS 615) to the east. After a .5 mi climb there is a gate, a short downhill, then a steady climb to the intersection of Rush Trail (4565), Sawmill Trail (4556), and FS 90. Sawmill is to the west, across a ditch with a failed culvert.

The next 2 miles are all climbing. Several trail intersections arrive on the right. Stay left to the crest of Feathercamp Ridge, and you'll then get some brief downhill reward. This trail will go through a gate when reaching the Iron Mountain Spur (4641); stay left here and you'll quickly be at Sandy Flats Gap and FS 90.

Take 90 to the NE to reach the Iron Mountain segment of this ride. There is a gate at the IMT after about a half mile on 90. Don't miss this!

IMT starts out UP and STEEP off of 90 and follows a ditched-out trail with non-functioning waterbars. Root ledges and rocks need to be navigated also, but there is a sweet section of ridgeline riding that follows. This bit of trail is aligned along the spine of Grosses Mountain and tops out at 3800 feet, the highest elevation on the ride. Just after this summit, the trail immediately drops a steep section back down to Shaw Gap. Take a right on Beartree Gap to return to the start.

This last section of the ride from the top of IMT to the campground drops 900 feet in ~3 miles; great finish!
History & Background
The IMT section of this ride was actually a segment of the old Appalachian Trail until 1972, when the AT was relocated to the southeast. Now, the IMT in this section is a multi-use trail, with bikers sharing travel with foot traffic, equestrians, and even motorcycles in some sections.

Damascus, mentioned in "to know" above, is at the southwest end of this IMT segment, and serves as a gateway to the entire Mount Rogers NRA, which is over 115,000 Acres. It markets itself as “Trail Town USA,” because of the four designated trails which intersect with it, including IMT, the Hwy 76 Bicycle Route, Appalachian Trail, and Virginia Creeper Trail.
View in 3D
Campagnolo - EPS Charger
25% off
at Competitive Cyclist
Shimano - Dura-Ace BR-9000 Brake Calipers
12% off
at Backcountry
Royal Racing - Royal Signature Short 2014
23% off
at Jenson USA
Duro - Miner 26 in. Tire
35% off
at Jenson USA
Pinarello - Dogma 2 Road Bike Frame -
30% off
at Competitive Cyclist
Diamondback - Session 20 BMX Bike 2014
30% off
at Jenson USA
Shimano - PD-M424 Pedals
40% off
at Jenson USA
Giordana - Silverline Tank Top with 360 Sh...
30% off
at Competitive Cyclist
Fi'zi:K - Cyrano R3 Bull Handlebar
20% off
at Competitive Cyclist
Giordana - Fusion Women's Jacket
20% off
at Competitive Cyclist
Capo - Meryl 8 200 Needle Socks - Men's
20% off
at Competitive Cyclist
Shimano - XT M785 Disc Caliper
16% off
at Jenson USA
MTB Project scours dozens of stores to
bring you the best bike deals!
Forecasting the weather...
Recent Conditions
Add a Condition Report | View All »
4.7 (21)
Bring on the Berms! This Epic ride incorporates all of the Kerr Scott trail s...
near Wilkesboro, NC
4.7 (3)
Wilkesbermo's most popular event.
near Wilkesboro, NC
4.3 (9)
Great all-mountain riding in Boone, NC
near Boone, NC

Your To-Do List: Not on it   Add it! | Your Full List »
Your Check-Ins:
Add a New Check-In | View All »

Share This Page
Improve This Page
Add Photo or Map Symbol
Edit Description or GPS track

PHOTOS of Rush Creek Loop
 1.7 from 3 votes
Leafy (Chilhowie, VA)
 1.7 from 3 votes
Shaw Gap (Chilhowie, VA)
© 2014 Adventure Projects, LLC Terms | Privacy | About Us