Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Iron Forge | Virginia Endurance Series and RIMBA Local Destination Ride

Two 19th Century Blast Furnaces, Two Mythic Backcountry Rides, Two Historic Counties, One Epic Day: Sunday, October 19th, 2014.

Stage One | 9AM | Roaring Run Furnace.
Start Location:
Distance: 12 miles

Stage Two | 1:30PM | Longdale Furnace
Start Location:
Distance: 16 miles
Roaring Run Furnace
Longdale Furnace
Stage One: Roaring Run Furnace.
Location: Roaring Run Furnace Recreation area parking lot. Note that parking is limited. Overflow along the roadside. Take 615 off 220 (Eagle Rock) for 6 miles, then right on 621. Go 1 mile to sign and recreation area on left.
Ride Starts: 9AM.
Distance: 12 miles.
Description: The ride leaves the rec area parking lot for a 1 mile prologue that takes us to the Roaring Run blast furnace that produced pig iron in the 1800’s, some of which was used for Civil War munitions. It stands like a stone pyramid, and it gorged itself on trees, stripping the area barren in those days. Thank goodness for Mother Nature’s superior healing abilities. Then, the singletrack winds its way to then namesake Roaring Run Falls, gorgeous and most impressive following a stout rain. A quick return past the parking area leads us to the Iron Ore Trail, a solid 3 mile ore grade climb up the flank of Rich Patch mountain. Once up, we take the lower Hoop Hole Trail for an astonishing and beautiful decent, with wild rarely used Allegheny trail lined with rhododendron and and laurel, with several creek crossings. After the eventful decent, we emerge at the Hoop Hole trailhead before descending by road on 615 to 621 and a return to the start.
Transfer: 30 Minute Drive
It’s 24 miles between stages. Lunch and supplies can be found at Kelley’s Market on 220.

Take a right out of Roaring Run Recreation area onto 621. Go one mile, then left on 615 back to US 220. take a left (north) on 220. Go just over 10 miles, then right just prior to the bridge leading before the town of Iron Gate, on McKinney Hollow Rd. Follow McKinney Hollow (it has some twists and turns, just stay on McKinney Hollow and you’re good) winding your way to Longdale Furnace road. Take a right (east) going almost 4 miles to Longdale Furnace Recreation Area on right. The dirt road has a right fork a short ways in, take the right. If the gate is open, parking is ahead through gate. If not, pick any spot you like.

The way through Pete's Cave

Stage Two: Longdale Furnace.
Location: Longdale Furnace Recreation area parking lot. Note that parking is limited. Overflow along the roadside.
Ride Starts: 1:30PM.
Distance: 16 miles (more available). Ride varies slightly from this outline.
Downloadable, high quality map of the loop. Ideally, 11X17 printed: Longdale 16 Loop Map
Description: The Longdale/North Mountain loop packs tremendous variety and excellence in a compact package. From the site of an 1800’s blast furnace named Lucy Selina, you’ll encounter: forest road, long dirt climb, sweet Allegheny ridgetrail, amazing views, unusual rock formations, challenging sidehill descent, and a long closed National Forest swimming lake. The ride rises through the rec area to a rolling 3 mile forest road climb. At a junction of the North Mountain trail, bear left across creek continuing on the forest road, arriving at a National Forest parking area with kiosk. Out of the parking lot, take a right up Collierstown Road for a dirt climb of 3 miles, rising over 1000,’ to the North Mountain ridge. At the intersection near a radio tower, take a right dropping down road slightly to reveal a trail, up sharply on the right. The next half mile of the North Mountain trail reveals stunning views across Rockbridge County to the east, and beyond. Stop and enjoy several viewpoints before the trail hits the hardwoods. In just over 3 miles of generally climbing singletrack, a steep hike and narrow crevasse called Pete’s Cave provides a one-of-a-kind experience. Once through, right at the top, walk right onto the boulder overlook. To the northwest is a canvas of massive views of I-64 and the Alleghenies off in the far distance towards West Virginia. Continue on trail until we drop off the ridge at a trail sign (right). The drop is classic, through a deep V hollow with several swaps from side-to-side. The trail ends at the forest road junction passed earlier, exiting the way we approached.

There are options here to extend the adventure, or, duck downhill on the dirt road to a cold refreshment waiting.

Driving Directions: Roaring Run Furnace, Kelley's Market, Longdale Furnace

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