Green Ridge State Park

On the trail - Click to Enlarge

10/26/03

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Way Points

 

Prologue

Things had been pretty quiet since we returned from Maine.  But I was in need of some off-road time, if not some camping.  The week went by pretty quick and a number of household chores got done, leaving me a little freedom for the weekend.  Coincidentally, Carl circulated the suggestion that we think about going out on Saturday or Sunday.  We settled on Sunday and recruited some of the usual suspects, and a couple other guys.  We wanted to go someplace that would be accessible for Stockers, but I think everyone was a little tired of the trails around Harrisonburg, VA.  I suggested we go out to Green Ridge because it fit the description, was reasonably close by, and was very much a stocker trail.  In fact it was so much a stocker trail, based on my visits in July 2001 and February 2002 that I was thinking it would just be a drive in the woods, with no real need for 4WD.  I decided that was probably good once in a while, and with someone driving a brand new vehicle that isn't generally seen on rough trails, probably just as well.  We made a plan to meet in Hancock, Maryland and drive out to the trail from there.

 

Muster

Carl and I hit the road early on the first day after setting the clocks back from Daylight Savings Time, so I guess we got an extra hours sleep?  We drove up to Sheetz in Frederick, on Route 85 and tanked up.  Then we got on Route 70 and headed west for Hancock, about an hour away.

Carl on Rt 70

When we were about 6 miles out, I decided to play stupid CB games and gave a shout for Jim.  To my surprise and delight, I was able to reach him through the noise of low squelch and confirmed our meeting place at the Super 8 Motel, just off the highway, in Hancock.  We pulled off and soon found him standing in the parking lot waiting for us.

Jim, Paul, Carl

While we were waiting a message appeared on my cell phone so I retrieved it and learned that Rob was running about 30 minutes out.  I called him and made plans to meet him at the exit to Green Ridge State Park.

Steve

Steve pulled in and met us right about that time, so we rounded up the kids and hit the road west.  We made a hit-and-run drive through the Sideling Hill Exhibit Center to make sure that there was no one waiting for us there.  We saw a pick-up truck with a lift and large tires but didn't recognize it.  With no one else signed up on the message board, I assumed we were all assembled and continued back onto Route 68 and drove the few miles west to the exit for Green Ridge State Park.  I called Rob and gave him the exit number and told him what to look for when he came around the corner and down the hill.  We parked near the exit and while we waited for Rob, I aired down and disconnected.  Carl took off back across the highway and explored the trails on the northern end of the park, just enough to report what sounds like some interesting terrain.  Rob soon arrived with his wife Erica, so we got on the trail.

Trail

The "trail" really doesn't start until you get into the State Park a little way.  We came to the first branch in the road where Fifteen Mile Creek Road branches off to the left, and Sugar Bottom Road branches to the right up the hill.  We drove along there past campsites, and over to Black Sulphur Road (left) and down into a hollow where one of the Group Camp sites is located.  It was full of campers and many people were scattered around the site, and up and down the stream fishing.

So far the weather had been good for us.  It was sunny and mild with no wind to speak of.  We keep moving and soon reached Green Ridge Road.  From there we drove until we came to the spot where the power lines cross and you can see in both directions for some distance.

Power Lines Detail
Power LinePower LineSteve at power linesParked at power linesParked at power lines

It's always tempting to run power lines.  The steep hills and the rough trail are almost too much to pass up.  However, as is most often the case, the trail following the lines is off limits for vehicles so we need to content ourselves with enjoying the view.  I explained that we'd be dropping into the valley a little further south, and then running part of the trail before climbing up the ridge and soon showing up at the power lines where they cross in the distance.

We continued down Green Ridge Road and turned east onto Mertens Avenue.  Soon we came to a junction where the OHV trail runs north and south.  I wanted to run the entire length of the trail as well as explore the high ridge line, so I led the group south onto the OHV trail.  At this point we encountered a large group of people driving ATV's and all their tow vehicles.  From this point on we would be contending with ATV's sharing the trail with us.  It was for the most part uneventful.  We were crawling along and the ATV's usually had enough warning to avoid us, and plenty of room to go around.

This part of the trail is very mild and is mainly a scenic alternative to pavement.  But there are spots where one must concede to the terrain and choose a line to avoid dragging the undercarriage.  This makes for some interesting driving for stock vehicles and those new to off-road travel.

Carl on the trailOn the trailOn the trailCarlCarl

We did find one spot that offered an alternative to the flat of the road, so a few of us took the opportunity to cycle our suspensions.

Jim
Jim

Jim

Soon we came to the lower end of the trail where it meets with Kirk Road.  It is marked with signs and features a triangle-shaped intersection.  There was some confusion about the western branch because the cut-off was marked with the "No Jeeps" international symbol.  Carl and I drove a ways down Kirk Road looking for the crossing that I had remembered from a previous visit.  We found the spot but it was dried up so we reversed direction and returned to the intersection and the rest of the group.

Road SignsPaul and Signs

We continued south-west for a few more minutes and soon came to Stafford Road.  It turns north-east and heads up the ridge.  The trail was noticeable more difficult.  Some of us were thrilled to get a little bit more challenging wheeling.  Keeping in mind that some sections of the road would threaten damage, we spotted Steve through one eroded section, and took our time climbing to the top.  This was the first time I had been able to get down to this end of the trail and I must say, it may be the best section of the whole OHV area in this park.  Well worth driving to it.

We drove up the foot of the ridge, stopping along the way to take pictures of each other and to enjoy the weather.

Steve
SteveSteveSteve and son

Steve


RobRobRobRobRob
Rob
RobRob

Rob


Carl Climbing

Movie:  Carl playing in the ruts and rocks

CarlCarlCarlCarlCarlCarlCarl
Carl
CarlCarlCarl

Carl


Paul and Steve
Paul and SteveSteve

Paul and Steve


 

We started looking for a place to have lunch.  I was hoping the spot we'd stopped at one time near Group 7 site was close by but it was still a ways up the ridge so I stopped at a small turn out that had a picnic table and a view through the trees.  Carl parked on a stump and everyone got some lunch.  I got the kids something to eat and gave thanks for the great weather and so far an uneventful trip.

Green Ridge

 

LunchLunchLunch

After lunch, we got back on the trail.  We soon came to the top of the ridge and after crossing Mertens Avenue, reached Group 7 camping area.  There is a porta-john there.  We found a recently abandoned fire, a well-carved pumpkin, and multi-colored wax residue from a large candle burning session.  Happy Halloween!  The kids got a big kick out of the pumpkin while the adults had a rest break.

Abandoned site with Jack-O-Lantern

 

Jack-O-LanternRob and SteveRob and Erica

We ran the top of the ridge until we came to the spot where the power lines cross.  At that point I remembered that the power lines were on the northern section of the OHV trail that ran in the valley below, and that if we wanted to run the rest of the trail, we'd be better off backtracking and going down to the valley, then running it north from there.

It was tempting to descend the power line hill.  I noted that there were no signs marking it off-limits but Carl did find the post that is used for all such signs, though there was no marking on the post.  This coupled with the recollection that the descent (or climb depending on your direction of travel) was quite steep in spots, was enough to make me realize that we'd best not take this "short cut" as it represented a risk for all of us, and was probably illegal anyway.  I walked down the trail a good ways to where it dropped steeply away and chalked it up to safety and rules.

We doubled back the along the top of the ridge back down to Mertens Avenue where we followed the switchbacks down the side of the ridge until we reached the valley and East Valley Road where the ATV riders tend to base themselves.  On the way down, we noted entrances to the power line trail marked with the ubiquitous international "No Jeeps" symbol.  That pretty much confirmed that this area was off limits.

At the trail junction, we turned onto the northeastern section of the OHV route and followed it along.  We soon passed under the power lines and observed a post and rail fence on both sides of the trail, making it redundantly clear that this area was out of bounds.  Stretching up to the ridge was a wonderful hill climb that we will not be climbing.

Shortly after that I noted the same side trail I had explored previously.  It was marked closed for motorcycles and ATV's but the "No Jeeps" marking was absent.  So I suggested that Steve save his new Toyota from pin striping.  He parked and hoped in with Carl, then we went up the trail until we reached the point of no return.  The trail gets very steep and climbs the side of the ridge over leaves and loose rocks with a narrow path between many trees.  It was pretty clear that some of us might have a chance of making it, but it was not something that we really needed to do this day.  We opted to turn around and save it for another day.  We backtracked to the main trail and Steve picked up his truck.

As we continued along the we ran into a few ATV's.  I had spoken to many of the drivers as they passed us on the trail all day long, advising them how many vehicles were behind us and just passing the time of day.  One guy was very interested in our Jeeps and was seen several times as we went along the trail.  We also saw his friends driving a four-wheel drive pick-up truck.  Finally, the ATV driver told me that they had been waiting for us to come along to this rock that the pick-up had tried to climb but could not.  He was wondering how our Jeeps were set up ("Do you have lockers?") and whether or not we'd be going that way.

ATV's
Paul and Biker

We did plan to run the rest of the trail to where it meets up with Fifteen Mile Creek Road.  And I vaguely remembered a spot where there was a bald rock adjacent to the trail, near the end of the trail.  So I told him we were going there.  He soon had all his friends rounded up and we continued down the road in a rather curious group of Jeeps, SUV, Pick-up, and a variety of ATV's and motorcycles.  I guess we were going to be the entertainment for these guys.

Our pace is typically slow so after perhaps 10 minutes, the same guy I had spoken to came up to the front and went ahead.  I figured he'd gotten bored with the pace and was going to the rock to wait for us to arrive.  We continued another 5 minutes at this rate and he returned to check on us.  He told me that the rock was just ahead.  I was thinking "Lambs to the Slaughter" for a flicker but reminded myself that this was a stocker run and nothing I had ever seen on this trail was capable of much carnage.  Even the mud puddles were nearly dry this day.

Around the bend I spied the motorcycle rider and the rock on the side of the road.  It was the one I remembered, and indeed there was a steep way up to one side.  I went right down to the spot, positioned myself on the rock, and then crawled up to the top.  The worst thing about the rock was that it was quite steep at the bottom but soon got less so, and even with a little bit of off-camber slope, was not particularly difficult or scary.

The rest of the group showed up and a gallery of spectators soon assembled.  Carl and Jim each went up.

"Showboat Carl" crawled it beautifully, went back down, and with the motorcycle rider as a passenger.

CarlCarlCarlCarlCarlCarlCarl

Jim got lined up and then lifted his right front wheel as he positioned to climb up.  He had not disconnected.  A few people noticed and excitement went through the group of onlookers.  (I screwed up the movie by holding the camera sideways at the beginning - don't watch it if you get sick easily - I rotated it correctly after a reminder from my 6-year old and the rest of the movie was OK)

Jim Climbing
Movie: Jim climbing (after he lifted a wheel...)

I made another run up the hill, jokingly asking "Someone said there was an obstacle around here...?" 

Paul Climbing
Movie: Paul Climbing

Paul

It's funny - I don't think of my Jeep as being that extreme, and of course, it isn't.  But there are a lot of people driving bone-stock vehicles that have not yet built them at all, so to them, it looks pretty wild.  It was fun for a change to be in that position, though a bit strange considering all the people I know who have really "big Jeeps".

These pictures and movies never give a good impression of how steep some of the obstacles really are.  Here is a movie of my mountain-goat kids climbing the hill after we finished.  Notice how steep the climb is for them on foot.

Kids Climbing
Movie: Kids climbing the rock on foot...

Paul

After some chat, we continued down the trail until we got to the main road again.  Carl and I aired up and reconnected. 

Trails EndTrails EndTrails EndTrails End

Rob and Steve hit the road for home.  Jim stuck around and kept us company and the kids played in the dirt with their Hot Wheels cars.

Epilogue

We stopped in Hancock to eat some supper.  Our bodies were still on Daylight Savings time so even though it was only around 4:00 PM by the time we got to Weaver's, everyone was hungry.  We took our time and had a nice meal, then came out to hit the road.  Sitting in front of the restaurant was a HUMMER, demonstrating its total flex limit on the curb.  We drove the back street along the canal and then hopped up onto Route 70 for the trip home.

Flex...HancockHancockC & O Canal at HancockC & O Canal at Hancock

JimC & O Canal at HancockImagePhotographerName:
Paul M. Provencher

Jim broke off from me and Carl when he got to Route 15.  Carl and I continued back to Frederick and the same Sheetz we visited in the morning.  We got gas and then headed home.  Along the way the kids stole my Diet Coke and reenacted the "Movie - Who can burp the loudest" bit.  Their mother is going to kill me!  Another great day on the trail!

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Green Ridge State Park Waypoint List

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