This ride is located in the Lee District of the George Washington National Forest and visits great overlooks at Woodstock Tower and Signal Knob. Known for steep, rocky, and narrow ridge tops with spectacular views, the Lee District is the nearest access point to the George Washington National Forest for the Washington DC metro area.
Expect plenty of rocks, exceptional views from the ridge trail and Signal Knob, and one of the best descents in the state.
Park at the Signal Knob parking lot (google.com/maps/place/Eliza…
@38.9344721,-78.3204941,240m), and leave from the singletrack trailhead at the south end of the lot, orange blazes. You'll see a large information kiosk with maps and information on area rides. Continue uphill on blue blazed Tuscarora Bear Wallow trail until you cross the stream and come to a 3-way intersection with the white blazed Sidewinder Trail
. Turn left and follow the white blazes to the fire road. Turn right and continue the climb following purple blazes.
The fire road will eventually come to an end at a steep singletrack drop to the Mudhole Gap
Trail. Turn right at the T intersection to continue following purple blazes. Mudhole gap is a rocky doubletrack with several stream crossings leading west to Powell's Fort, a historic CCC camp. After crossing a wider creek, you'll pop out into a small parking area and a gravel road, F66. This is the center point of the figure 8. If you need drinking water, there is a piped spring a few hundred meters to the right on the road, right next to the gate.
Turn left on F66. After 2.2 miles on the gravel, you'll come to a gate (usually open) and a stop sign. Turn right onto Mine Mountain Rd. It is also gravel.
Climb on Mine Mountain Rd for 2.4 miles until it dead ends in a switchback turn with Woodstock Tower Rd, also gravel. Woodstock Tower Rd will climb up to the ridge in less than a mile. Once at the top you can optionally follow the singletrack spur trail a few hundred meters to the South to check out the views from a fire tower.
From the top of Woodstock Tower Rd, continue over the top and start descending the other side, but only for 100 meters or so. There is a small parking area and a wooden sign with orange blazes on your right marking the entrance to the Massanutten trail that follows the ridge line. It is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.
Follow orange blazes on the Massanutten Trail - Edinburgh Gap Rd. to Mudhole Gap
North along the ridge. The ridge is all singletrack and very rocky. Continue following the orange blazes until you descend back down to fire road F66.
Make a left on the gravel F66 fire road. You are back in the center of the "figure 8" and you'll pass by the Mudhole gap parking area from earlier. There is water available from a piped spring as you go around a gate. Continue on F66 for around 3 miles. Once you pass the reservoir look for blue blazes and an information sign on your right.
Make a right onto the blue blazed Tuscarora - Bear Wallow Trail #405.2
. This climb is commonly known as "The hike a bike" It gets steep and loose.
Catch your breath at the top and drop your seat post. The Bear Wallow descent (AKA: Tuscarora, 31 flavors) starts with some burly rock moves, but generally gets smoother the lower you get. Stay on the main trail (always to the left) following blue blazes until you get near the bottom and it switches to orange. It is the best descent in the area, in my not so humble opinion.
BONUS ADD ON LOOP!
This add on is NOT shown on the map or profile. I prefer this alteration as it adds a few miles of trail, a sick view, and skips the hike a bike.
Starting from F66 going past the reservoir, instead of turning right onto blue blazed Tuscarora Trail (Bear Wallow), continue straight on the fire road (orange blazes) until you get to Signal Knob and the tower. Check out the view, then continue climbing behind the tower on orange blazed Signal Knob trail. This trail is quite bumpy. Shortly after you start descending on some rocky gnar, look for white blazes on your right.
Turn right on white blazed Meneka peak trail. This trail has a bit of a rock scramble at the top, but it isn't too bad. Descend Meneka peak trail until it T's into blue blazed Bear Wallow descent (AKA: Tuscarora, 31 flavors). Turn left and descend back to your car following blue blazes until you get near the bottom and it switches to orange (follow the main trail, always to the left).