News from the Valley Trails
Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of PATC
If you have a Facebook page, be sure to look for and like our page, PATC Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter. On there, we will try to post updates as we have them. If you don't already receive them, you can also subscribe to our email blast by using the link on our home page: SSVC PATC
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy designated Harrisonburg as an Appalachian Trail Community in 2011, one of the first in Virginia. As a trail community there are several expectations that must be met in order to maintain our designation.
One of the standards is to form a committee comprised of trail supporters and community representatives for the purpose of planning and implementing initiatives, events and projects that educate our community about the AT and serve the interests of hikers and the trail. Due to the pandemic and changes in work circumstances of the previous co-chairs, the committee has not been active for the past year or so.
A reorganizational meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 9 at 6:30pm. The inclement weather date is February 16 at 6:30pm. The meeting location is the ground floor event space between Magpie Diner and Magpie Bakery and Chestnut Ridge Coffee Roasters near the corner of West Gay Street and North Liberty Street. Parking is available along Liberty Street.
The meeting agenda will include the selection of leaders and standing committee members, as well as preliminary discussion of activities to fulfill our mission. Attending the meeting does not obligate you to volunteer to serve, but rather indicates your interest in supporting the AT and our trail community.
Please RSVP by Monday, February 7 if you would like you to attend.
Eddie Bumbaugh: 540.908.0094 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Cox: 540.908.6651 or email@example.com
There has been a change in the dates of the Wilderness First Aid class in Bridgewater. The class will now be held on February 12-13 at Arey Assembly Hall in the Bridgewater Community Center. If you could not attend the January class, but find the February dates more convenient, there is still time to register. There are also classes being held in Crozet and Charlottesville. Here is the link to the registration form:
The North River Ranger District (NRRD) is the largest Ranger District in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest with 391,000 acres. It has 350 miles of trails. The NRRD includes all of Shenandoah Mountain. The western side of Shenandoah Mountain is in Pendleton County, WV. The NRRD extends north of Rt. 33 to the Hardy County and Rockingham County lines and south into Bath County to the southern end of Shenandoah Mountain.
To promote enjoyment of the 90 miles of trails which the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) maintains in the NRRD, the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter is hosting the North River Ranger District 90 Challenge.
There are three ways to complete the challenge: hiking, doing trail maintenance, or completing a combination of both hiking and trail maintenance that adds up to 90.
Hike any of the trails in the NRRD for a total of 90 miles. Miles may be covered by day hikes, weekend hikes or longer backpacking trips. These hikes do not have to be part of an official PATC hike. You do not have to hike all the trails maintained by PATC, but must do a total of 90 miles on NRRD trails.
PATC Trail Maintenance
Complete 90 hours of trail maintenance on NRRD trails. This option is available to PATC Trail Maintainers who maintain a section of a NRRD trail or an individual who is conducting trail maintenance work with a PATC Trail Crew on a NRRD trail.
Combination of Hiking/Backpacking & Trail Maintenance
Complete a combination of miles hiked on NRRD trails and hours performing trail maintenance on NRRD trails to equal 90. The trail maintenance portion is available to PATC Trail Maintainers who maintain a section of a NRRD trail or individuals who work with NRRD trail maintainers on a scheduled work day. If you wish to work on a trail singly or in a small group, approval must be obtained through the NRRD District Managers Malcolm or Lynn Cameron. (emails: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)
For example, you could:
- Perform 30 hours of trail maintenance and hike 60 miles.
- Perform 90 hours of trail maintenance on a NRRD trail.
- Hike 90 miles on trails in the NRRD.
However, you choose to complete your North River Ranger District 90 Challenge is up to you. The goal is to get outside and have fun and enjoy the wonderful trails in the NRRD!
Rules/Regulations & Other Important Information
- The North River Ranger District 90 Challenge is open to all PATC members.
- PATC maintains 90 miles of trails in the NRRD. See National Geographic Map 791: Staunton, Shenandoah Mountain, George Washington National Forest.
- The trail maintenance portion of this contest is open only to PATC Trail Maintainers who maintain a section of NRRD trails or an individual who is conducting trail maintenance work with a PATC Trail Crew on a scheduled work day. All trail maintenance must be done in coordination with PATC guidelines. Please do not perform trail maintenance on a section that is not officially assigned to you, unless you have been invited to do so by the NRRD District Managers.
- Participation is free and open to all.
- The North River Ranger District 90 Challenge starts January 1, 2022. The anticipated end date is December 31, 2026. Only miles hiked and/or hours maintained after January 1, 2022 will count toward the challenge.
- If you have questions about this challenge or to receive a patch after completion, please contact Jean Stephens, Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To prevent the spread of COVID-19, please follow all CDC guidelines, such as social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks while near others.
- For information about the PATC or becoming a member please feel free to check out PATC's website at www.PATC.net
North River District has an amazing group of trail maintainers with a wide variety of interests and talents. This month, we want to highlight Larry Ragland of Staunton.
We first met Larry at Red Wing Roots Music Festival a few years ago when he signed up to join our trail crew. Last winter Larry joined his first work trip on Shenandoah Mountain. We hacked our way through vegetation that had totally overgrown the remote Sinclair Hollow Trail. Apparently, Larry caught the trail maintenance bug and soon thereafter decided to adopt Hiner Spring Trail, a remote trail high on the mountain in the interior of Ramseys Draft Wilderness.
Larry’s interest was piqued by use of traditional tools in Wilderness. He attended the SAWS crosscut saw certification training in April 2021 and became a B Level Crosscut Sawyer. Soon afterwards, Larry led a saw team on lower Buck Mountain Trail. His saw team consisted of himself and two grandsons, whom he coached and guided through removal of some challenging blowdowns. We are thrilled that Larry introduced a new generation to crosscut sawing.
Larry hikes a lot and often carries a Katanaboy 650 saw (aka “Katanagirl”), using it to make trails better wherever he goes. His other tool is a camera. He captures inspiring photos and videos in the forest and shares them widely, including in the annual calendar he publishes.
In addition to all this, Larry is a fine musician and song writer. He appears at several local venues on a regular basis. If you want to sample Larry’s music, listen to these songs (my favorites):
• Gentle Arms of Eden (written by Dave Carter, performed by Larry)
• I Want to Live (original song by Larry)
A few of us went to a performance by Larry and Danny Dolinger at Newtown Bakery after a day of trailwork and enjoyed their music immensely. What a great way to end the day!
Recently, Larry became acquainted with Craig Sease, who is also a musician. The two discovered they had a mutual interest in trail work. They hiked up Springhouse Ridge and did some clipping to open up the trail to Big Bald, and then made a return trip with a crosscut saw to remove several blowdowns. After these positive and fun experiences using super cool tools, Craig decided to join PATC and adopt the Big Bald segment of Wild Oak Trail, Section B, which connects to Larry’s trail.
New friends, new skills, working together, spending time in nature, keeping trails open for the public – that’s what it’s all about. Many thanks to Larry Ragland and all our other outstanding trail maintainers who are truly making a difference.
Lynn and Malcolm Cameron
PATC North River District Managers
From Lynn Cameron’s research in local newspaper archives
By the end of 1916, the newly forming Shenandoah National Forest (now GWNF) had built:
- 40 miles of trail to provide access, most of which was Shenandoah Mountain Trail from FR 95 to Scotchtown Draft Road in Bath County;
- Phone lines throughout the forest;
- Several fire towers on Shenandoah Mountain, including Hardscrabble Knob and Reddish Knob.
This was almost two decades before the Civilian Conservation Corps was formed.
PATC is excited to announce the 2022 hiking challenge, the 𝐓𝐓𝟔𝟎 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞!
In honor of the 60th anniversary of the Tuscarora Trail, we will be hosting the TT60 Challenge.
The Tuscarora Trail is a 250-mile-long trail through the Ridge and Valley Appalachians of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Coupling the experience of remote wilderness, green pastures, small towns, rugged tread-way and country back roads, the Tuscarora offers a truly unique hiking adventure.
Similar to the MacKaye Challenge, there are three ways to complete the challenge: hiking, performing trail maintenance, or completing a combination of both hiking and trail maintenance that adds up to 60.
However you choose to complete your TT60 Challenge is up to you. The goal is simply to get outside and have fun!
For rules and other important information, please visit: www.patc.net/TT60Challenge.
From: Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership
Don Hindman, Project Director
A lot has happened in the last month, bringing the Shenandoah Rail Trail much closer to reality. But we need your help to make sure we don’t lose any ground in the General Assembly.
As you may remember, in late 2020 the General Assembly directed state agencies to conduct a feasibility study for the trail. Not only did the study find the trail to be feasible, but results from a public survey and community outreach conducted as part of the study show there is overwhelming support for the concept. AND the study confirmed what we suspected, that the trail provides an opportunity to address the local need for increased access to safe recreation and transportation alternatives, improve the health and quality of life for vulnerable populations, and preserve the historic corridor for generations to come. The study also found, as we knew, that the trail will take considerable investment to become a reality.
In an exciting development last fall, the proposed state budget includes $233 million for outdoor recreation, a portion of which is dedicated to support the development of multi-use destination trails like the Shenandoah Rail Trail. Proposed state funding, coupled with the news that Norfolk Southern is ready to sell the corridor, makes a Shenandoah Rail Trail much closer to a reality.
Finally, a recently completed economic impact analysis shows that the Shenandoah Rail Trail would be a wise investment. The analysis predicts that a completed Shenandoah Rail Trail will generate $32.3 million per year in new spending in the region when fully opened. Those dollars will support 319 new jobs and another $10 million in labor income for existing and new main-street businesses.
To sum it up, the time is right now to act to preserve and transform the corridor as a trail so that it can once again benefit the communities through which it passes. But to do that, we need state legislators to support the trail funding in the proposed state budget.
We’ve been in close contact with legislators since 2019 when the Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership was created, and just last week, the mayors, county supervisors, and community leaders of the Partnership penned a letter to Senator Mark Obenshain, Speaker Todd Gilbert, Delegate Tony Wilt and Delegate Bill Wiley asking for their help to secure funds included in the proposed budget.
Overall, we've been bolstered by local legislators' enthusiasm about the *idea* of a trail but now we need your help to encourage your legislators to support the *reality* of the trail.
Please use this quick and easy form and example letter to let your legislators know you want them to keep the trail funding in the state budget that could, in large part, support the purchase and construction of a Shenandoah Rail Trail.
Shenandoah National Park is implementing a pilot project to manage visitor use on Old Rag Mountain to reduce impacts to natural resources and to improve visitor experience. “The number of people climbing Old Rag Mountain continues to grow and congestion on the mountain is impacting resources. This pilot project will allow us an opportunity to test a strategy for managing this area to ensure Old Rag is preserved and everyone has a high-quality trip.” according to Superintendent Patrick Kenney.
Day-use tickets for Old Rag Mountain will become available Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. EST. Tickets can be purchased up to 30 days in advance. Beginning March 1, 2022 all visitors to trails at Old Rag must have a day-use ticket in addition to a Park entrance pass. Hikers must purchase their tickets before arriving. A day-use ticket does not guarantee a parking spot, and entrance fees still apply in addition to the day-use ticket fee of $1.00.
For more information about the pilot, specifics about where tickets are required, and details on obtaining tickets, go to https://go.nps.gov/oldragticket .