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Southern Traverse - IMBA EPIC

Difficult

Trail

36.4 mile 58.5 kilometer loop
40% Singletrack
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,946' 1,203 m
Descent: -3,970' -1,210 m
High: 3,487' 1,063 m
Low: 1,650' 503 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Map Key

Big mountain singletrack on the east coast - 3,000 feet of climbing for courage and endurance.

Leslie Kehmeier

Electric Mountain Bikes Not Allowed

Features -none-

Overview

If you're going to tackle the Southern Traverse, the rigors of boot camp may be the best preparation. With 3,000 feet of climbing over 36 epic miles, this ride promises to test your courage and endurance. The backbone of the Southern Traverse is the south end of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, an 11 mile singletrack ridge ride. Riding north to south is the best way to enjoy the sweetest of singletrack descents.

The Traverse is the southern most section of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail located in the George Washington National Forests Dry River and Deerfield Ranger Districts. The trail runs along the spine of the massive Shenandoah Mountain, a massive 90+ miles long. It serves as the border of Virginia and West Virginia for the northern most 60 miles of its ridge.

Need to Know

The ride is one that requires commitment once you get to the ridge of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail. The bailout option is at Jerkemtight Rd, about 14 miles into the ride. Jerkemtight is a USFS road that is steep and rough, a 5 mile connection to Route 629. This bailout is really only suitable for emergencies since you'll be missing 5 miles of sweet singletrack descent.

Local Services:
Shenandoah Mountain Touring offers tours and shuttle service for the trail.

The general store in Deerfield is a welcome stop for a refreshing beverage near the end of the ride.

Description

This Epic route starts with a 4 mile climb on Benson Run Rd (aka USFS Rd 173) out of Deerfield Valley. The fire road climb is a nice and steady grade that climbs 1,300 ft to a saddle where you'll pick up the Shenandoah Mountain Trail heading south (left). Continue climbing on the trail towards the summit of The Bump at 3634 feet. This section of singletrack has long straights that are tight, twisty and smooth with some super technical rock gardens scattered throughout.

The only intersection to worry about along the route is the Jerkemtight juncture. There are 2 different singletrack trails heading off the west side of the ridge and 3 jeep trails heading in different directions. Look for the 2 singletrack trails. The Shenandoah Mountain Trail is the one that heads more southerly. Marshall Draft trail is the one that drops straight down the western slope towards sugar tree road.

Continue on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail as it drops a bit to meet up with the ridge again. The route then skirts around North Sister Knob at an elevation of 3,292 feet and then coils up onto South Sister Knob at 3088. From here you'll begin a screaming 1,100 foot descent, some of the sweetest you've ever experienced. The trail ends at Scotchtown Draft - Route 627.

At this point you should take a break and try to stop smiling to keep your face from cramping.

Take a left on Route 627 and another left on Route 629 and enjoy about 10 miles of beautiful rolling country roads back to the trailhead.

Note that as of summer 2018, there is little maintenance evident on this trail. Riding the trail during the growing season, or at least the summer months is probably a mistake for most. Be prepared to encounter large swaths of nettles, thorns, and bull thistles...with heights exceeding 6 feet and completely obscuring the trail. Lots of nettles along the rock slides as well, and there are a lot of rock slides especially on the western sides. You also won't have cell phone coverage except up on the ridges and oddly T-Mobile had the best coverage.

Contacts

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Check-Ins

Apr 24, 2020
Levi D
First time riding this trail. We drove all the way up to Shenandoah Mtn trail junction to start. Just ten miles out and back and camped. 20mi — 6h 00m
Feb 28, 2020
Troy Warnken
amazing prefect conditions. 20mi — 2h 47m
Feb 28, 2020
Dan Crowe
An amazing route which was in great shape. Only a couple down trees and a great time of the year to ride it. Get it now before the overgrowth. 20mi
Jun 16, 2019
Reid Bailey
Surprisingly smooth and rideable for a VA ridge ride. Brush was up to shoulders in places - arms covered in bloody scratches - still worth it! — 3h 41m
Jun 8, 2019
Glen Thomas
Overall in good shape, some sections of overgrowth with patches of nettles/thorns. Still worth riding
Mar 17, 2019
Ryan Nicholson
lots of leaves and blowdown trees. 36.4mi — 7h 21m
May 26, 2018
Scott Christman
Sweet 15.8mi
Oct 28, 2017
Akdabi Ingram

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Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 30 votes

#449

Overall
  4.2 from 30 votes
5 Star
43%
4 Star
37%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Ride Rankings

#12

in Virginia

#449

Overall
355 Views Last Month
17,434 Since Mar 9, 2013
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Photos

One of the highlights of the 11-mile ridge run on the Southern Traverse
Mar 16, 2013 near Monterey, VA
Mountain Laurel blooms on the Southern Traverse
Mar 16, 2013 near Monterey, VA
Checking the map at the intersection of Benson Run Rd and the Shenandoah Mountain Trail. Take a left to ride towards an 11 mile singletrack traverse
Apr 8, 2013 near Monterey, VA
Western side Shenandoah Mountain Trail
Sep 10, 2017 near Monterey, VA
When the canopy opens up along the Southern Traverve, the views are spectacular.
Mar 11, 2013 near Warm Sp…, VA
Sweet singletrack
Sep 10, 2017 near Monterey, VA

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