Blakey Ridge Fall Foliage Run



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Way Points


Please note:  The stream crossings shown are no longer open for motorized traffic.  Please stay on the bridges.


Jackie Cooper planned this run for the O.C.C. to get out and see the fall foliage.  The word was passed through the message board and a long list of attendees was assembled. Ultimately there were over 20 vehicles and probably three times that many people who showed up.  The weather was perfect (clear, sunny, and cool).


Jeff Eppolite Photo

The group met at Wendy's in Manassas off route 66 at exit 47B, at about 8:30.  We hit the road about 9:00pm and arrived at the beginning of the trail about an hour or so later.


Jim DisconnectsTrail HeadTrail Head

Purple Willys
Jeff Eppolite Photo

10:00 a.m.

Once we drove down Route 29 to Route 230, it was just a short hop to State Road number 657.  A little ways up that, a small group of people had assembled to wait for us.  This was the actual transition to dirt that everyone had been waiting for.  At first it looked very tame, with nothing but regular, well-graded dirt and sand.

A local yellow Labrador Retriever made his way around, eventually reaching Teddy and Tomi.  I may have done my kids a dis-service, I am not sure.  I have been regularly telling them that they should not attempt to touch "dogs they don't know" and that they should first ask the owner.  As we are not accustomed to encountering loose dogs, Tomi was overcome with fear when this sweet, gregarious dog just came right up and said "Howdy-do" right in his face.  The Go-Gurt went flying, the screams flew, and Mom came running.   Not a great way to start the day.

Both Ted and Tom wanted their respective seats in the Jeep "NOW".  While all this was going on, I was looking for my air-gauge.  I didn't find it and rode the trail without airing-down.  Not a big deal really, but there were lots of places where the ride was more rough than need be because of it.

Once all the drama and acceptance of things lost had been played out, we started up the trail with assurances from Jackie that 4-LO was not needed, but lets use it anyway to keep the speed down.  She was, of course, correct - I might even hazard to say that one could conceivably make it through the whole day without 4WD, but there were lots of times where it was very reassuring.


There were only a handful of trees that had changed color and some good-natured ribbing was dispensed about the promise of "foliage".  The trail was dry and only scattered mud-showers were encountered.  The balance of the trail ride was dusty, more so once we reached Rapidan later on.

Trail BreakTrail Break

I might be thought a wuss (what's new?) but I will tell you that despite the easy trail surface, there were spots where it was pretty treacherous nonetheless.  The erosion is not as well controlled as the GWNF trails; the width of the trail is quite narrow in many places, most notably in a couple places were there are sheer drops off the side.  One momentary lapse of attention or a gas-pedal slip and things could get interesting (for the scrap man anyway...)  

12:02 p.m.  We reached waypoint 297, one of a few side trails in this area where access to Utz Hightop may be made.

Fortunately the trail was pretty well rutted and the erosion was not to such a bad state that there was much chance of going off if the driver was paying attention.  We returned with everyone we left with, and as best I could determine, there was no trail carnage, although perhaps a generous portion of Virginia pinstriping was applied...

There are several trail branches all along the way, many clearly posted "private property" and as many to places of unknown status (well, I am researching my GPS track log and topo maps to gain some insight...) and said to be "illegal".  Moreover there are some trails on the topo maps that were in evidence that might need a well placed query to confirm the status.  Suffice to say that even without taking any of the branches, its an interesting ride with plenty of mild "moments" for all but the most hardened trail riders.  The biggest attraction is the view, but better stop, put it in neutral, and crank the parking brake before taking it in.

Lunch StopLunch StopLunch StopLunch Stop
Park SignsPark SignsPurple WillysPurple Willys

Jeff Eppolite Photos
Lunch Stop
Jackie Cooper Photo

12:38 p.m.

We broke for lunch at a wide trail junction between Blakey Ridge and Rapidan Wildlife Management Area.  It was a great spot for such a large group and everyone had a great time eating and socializing.   There were lots of cameras in evidence and plenty of film was used up, all along the trail.  The Purple Willys (Todd and crew) was a favorite subject.  Look for plenty of shots of this old-timer.

RapidanPark SignsRapidan

On the move
Jeff Eppolite Photo

After lunch, we crossed into Rapidan Wildlife Management Area.  We were in good company with all manner of regular road vehicles.  With the road surface intended for all vehicles, the people we encountered were driving a random sampling of 2WD fare, with no great off-road vehicle presence save our own group. 


But the road was pretty rough, with lots of erosion and rugged spots - no challenge for a Jeep, but plenty thought provoking for anything with limited clearance.  And it was choppy riding.  We wound our way up to two spots where bridges span the Rapidan.  Fords are also in evidence so naturally...

The GalleryStream CrossingStream Crossing
Stream CrossingRapidanStream CrossingStream Crossing

Stream Crossing Stream Crossing

Jackie Cooper Photos

Most folks took the path of least resistance through shallow water.  But there were those who needed to get a few miles out of their lift kits, "33s", "lockers", and such, who took the road less traveled.   The entertainment was not lost on the rather large group of spectators.  Lots more photos and more hang-time.  The Purple Willys and The TJ With More Stuff were the standouts here.

Stream CrossingStream Crossing
Stream CrossingStream CrossingStream Crossing
Stream CrossingStream Crossing

We terminated our exploration of new territory at the end of the road where a gate prevents passage, and took a short hill-climb into the woods.  As the turn around was not suitable for a large group, we each took our turns and then parked to wait for the rest to finish.  With more than 20 vehicles at about 5 minutes per trip, this took considerable time. 

Megan and JojoTrail BreakValet Parking

We went down to the river with the kids.  Ted and Tom have just learned to throw rocks (great...) so I spent the time supervising their new-found interest, lest they pummel Ron's little girls, an adult, or someone's vehicle...   That kept them busy for nearly the whole time we waited.  If you happen to stop at the same spot, you will notice that the crossing has nearly been filled in with small stones...

4:20 p.m.

Moving back out to the spot where we ate lunch, we stopped so people could reconnect, erect tops, and generally square away.   Then we made tracks to the pavement and Route 29, where folks started splitting off and one core group stopped at a gas station to air-up and carry on.  We said our good-byes over the CB.  It was another great day on the trail with O.C.C.!


see waypoints below for basic info


White's Ferry

We hit pavement at 4:53 p.m.  By 5:15 p.m. we had made it back to Route 29 where we turned north and drove home.  That took just over two hours with a crossing at White's Ferry and a pit-stop for food at McDonalds.  See the updated track log from my GPS below!

Jeff Eppolite's Pictures | Jackie's Pictures


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Blakey Ridge / Rapidan Wildlife Management Area GPS Data

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