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 on the singletrack (next to the trail sign in) for about a half mile and until you reach the pavement (turn right) and continue for five miles when you get to the road leading to Todd Lake. You'll 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. (5.5-mile mark)
At the top of the doubletrack (7.5-mile mark), there will be a well-marked intersection with the Wild Oak
Trail. Go left. 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, you'll 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 you'll 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.
Don't 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, you'll arrive at a suspension bridge that you can not ride across as it is quite narrow and after crossing the river go right onto the singletrack. Here you'll have just a short bit of trail to finish the ride.
In about 0.75 miles you cross the road onto the singletrack that you started with. Stay to the right - the parking lot is about a half mile downhill.
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.