Narrowback Mountain Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,388' 423 m
Descent: -1,422' -433 m
High: 2,395' 730 m
Low: 1,754' 535 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“Ridge-top riding, progressively built trail, outstanding two mile descent...this loop has it all.”— Paul Stahlschmidt
Located in the North River District of George Washington National Forest, there is a bit of everything on this loop including ridgeline riding, rocky sections with alternate lines, and one memorable descent off the mountain.
There are plenty of accommodations nearby, but if camping, its 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).
Dog Graveyard is a gated road that sits next to remnants of old pet cemetery with signs and headstones still visible in the woods. Go around the gate and continue climbing. This road levels off after a short while next to a shale pit. Look for the gate on the right and continue up the two-track. Youll eventually roll past a meadow with nice views on the left. Beyond that, top out the climb, and then youll start to descend a bit and the doubletrack ramps up with speed.
The right turn on Narrowback Trail comes up very fast (2.4 mi. into this ride) and is easy to miss. Turn here and climb a short distance to the Narrowback ridge. At the top of the hill youll be at a signed intersection with Festival Trail and Tower Trail. Turn left on Festival Trail (432B) and continue along this great section that follows the the rocky ridgeline. It flows great in this direction. After topping out the Narrowback Mountain summit, (2224 ft.) youll start a nice downhill and meet a sharp right hand berm that drops to the east side of the ridge. The terrain here turns into an old road bed, but the wide corridor has been tightened to singletrack and rolls quickly until it intersects with Narrowback Road (536).
Follow Narrowback Road for 3 miles to the next intersection with Narrowback Trail again. This trail is short, but steep from the road. After passing through some thick rock gardens, the trail begins to mellow a bit and turns to more of a bench-cut trail until you get to the ridge again. Intersecting with the Festival Trail, youll be back on familiar terrain since you passed through here before. Turn left, and follow Tower Trail to the south.
Tower Trail follows the south end of the Narrowback Ridge, climbing steadily to the highest elevation of the ride at 2400 ft. This is the site of some recent trail reroutes. The reroutes now traverse several scree fields with plenty of rock. There are some amazing lines here and in many places the tread itself is a causeway of stone. After about a mile of this great section. Youll intersect with Tillman West.
Tillman West is a two mile drop off the ridge that travels through open clearings from a timber sale. This trail has been enhanced by recent RTP funding and though it is good in the up direction as well, it is one great DOWN. This trail will level off near the bottom, cross Big Run Creek, and end at Tillman Rd. where the ride began.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed, Features
Local Club: Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition
Sep 13, 2019: VDOT Safe Routes to School Q&A with Kyle Lawrence
Aug 30, 2019: 9/4: Northend Greenway Ribbon Cutting Celebration
Aug 28, 2019: Public Input – Don’t Be Shy
Land Manager: USFS - George Washington & Jefferson National Forests