Flagpole Knob

Jeeps on Flagpole Knob

9/16/01

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

Way Points

Prologue

Hugh Long mentioned to me that there appear to be a number of trails in the Rawley Springs area.  On various trips with the club, these trails have not been explored.  I commented that I still have not been able to go on a trip that involves a "high place".  That is to say, after a climb, I want to be able to get out and see the surrounding area from a high elevation.  The State Line trip offered a couple opportunities but conditions prevented me from fully enjoying them...

So I got to thinking about different places I had heard mentioned.  One that came to mind was Flagpole Knob.  Actually it was a place that I had located some time ago on the web but for whatever reason had forgotten about.  I renewed my search and soon found a site that describes an easy trip to the top of a high outlook.  I contacted the producer and got some additional information about location (George Washington National Forest - GWNF) and level of difficulty (dead easy), then did some work of my own.  It involved studying the map of the greater area and developing a plan for the trip.  I located numerous trails, most probably closed (otherwise, I think I would have heard of them by now), and a loop that provides approximately 50 miles of driving.

I organized the GPS Way points into groups by routes and produced a line map that can be easily printed.  My GPS does not have map capability so this additional step may not be necessary if you have something like the Garmin e-Map and associated software (like Hugh has).  I could plug my GPS into my laptop and run my DeLorme software but I really don't want my laptop rattling around in my Jeep all day, just so I can see a color graphic showing me where I am...

So my plan is to go out to Rawley Springs via Route 33, then circle the perimeter of the area and survey the various trail entry points and identify which (if any) are open and legal.  This will eventually lead us to Flagpole Knob, and Meadow Knob, then down to Dunkle Hollow and Skidmore Dam.  It is possible that owing to the distance of this loop, we could be busy all of one day just doing the preliminary assessment.  Just on the basis of the GPS route that I put together, the loop, measured in straight lines from one way point to another, is over 53 miles...  At three miles an hour that is almost 17 hours.  Since portions are on pavement, the reality is that it should only take about 8 hours.  We plan to be out there at about 8:00am.

Muster

I crawled out of bed around 5:00 a.m. and threw everything I set out the night before into the Jeep.  Cameras, lenses, food, water, jackets and boots.  I drove out to Hugh's house, just off Route 66 near Manassas and downed some coffee.  We did a radio check and hit the road.  It took us a couple hours to reach the McD's in Harrisonburg, VA where we made our final arrangements.

At this point it's really obvious that it will be a beautiful day, picture perfect, to borrow a phrase.  Clear, cool, and dry.  Not much wind.  Just the way I like it.

Trail

8:30 a.m.

We drove down to the Junction of Rt. 33 & Rt. 613, then the Junction of Rt. 613 & Rt. 742 and after a couple of zigs and zags, the Junction of Rts. 742 & 933.  Interestingly enough, the maps I used do not have Route 933 labeled as Forest Road 225, but once we reach the end of pavement, that is indeed what it becomes.

This approach by-passes the perimeter route that I was planning.  I originally thought this would be a dead-end or a rough trail that we'd explore in more detail later.  But it turned out to be one of the primary entrances into the area.  Once I saw that it was indeed Forest Rd 225, we decided to go ahead and follow it as far as possible.  This ended up leading us to trails that go all the way to Flagpole Knob.  Along the way we made several observations about other trail possibilities and the scenery in general.

Along Route 933/FR 225 we found the Fox Ridge Jeep Trail near the Union Springs Dam (Waypoint 210) is closed; the Mud Pond Gap lower trail  (Waypoint 221) is closed; the trail crossing opposite Upper Mud Pond Gap trail is closed.  Finding these closed was not surprising but it was disappointing.  Then we found the trail gate off FR 225 (to Prospect Knob?) (Waypoint 224) closed.  This was particularly disappointing since this was a very beautiful looking area that might have been one of the nicer scenic spots to visit on such a beautiful day.  At this point I was started to think that we'd be done running down the entrances in short order on this branch of the route, then be back to running around the perimeter repeating these findings over and over again.

Shea near large rock hill

But then the road got rougher and we turned the corner to a recognizable place.  The rock face (Waypoint 225) to the west was familiar to me from pictures others have made and placed on web sites.  Like my photos, these do not give any of idea the scale of this hill.  It is very tall and very steep.  I walked to the top in the hope that the climb led somewhere.  It does not, although it is very close to the upper Mud Point Gap trail.  After a very difficult transition point into the woods, the climb ends a few feet above.  It appears quite treacherous, even if there is much evidence that vehicles have been up into the woods.  Hugh and I decided that this was not something we "needed" to do and moved on.

We came to a fork in the trail with an open gate that leads to the lower Black Run trail (Waypoint 192).  Up to this point we had encountered several men with pick-up trucks and hounds.  When we stopped at this junction, I spent a couple minutes talking with one of them.  This is the season when they are allowed to train their dogs in preparation for bear hunting season.  So it would appear that there are bears out here.  That gives one pause...  It's time for me to read a refresher on how to deal with them...  The gentleman was kind enough to give us directions and some information about the trails ("they're all closed, dead ends, or grown in") and we bid him good day.

Further in on this trail we came to a fork and chose the road less traveled, to the left.  On the map it looks like a Pond Knob to Black Run cut-over trail (Waypoint 202).  This trail is much less well traveled and was said by the bear hunter to be a dead end with a place to turn around.  

Rocky Trail

A little way in we found a rock trough that climbed into the woods (Waypoint 226) from a trail corner.  It continued (Waypoint 227) beyond a point above where Hugh and I walked in.  It looks quite challenging and even perhaps not very passable.  We were not going to try it by ourselves so we walked  back out and continued west.

10:00 a.m.

Dry Crossing near Black RunDry Crossing near Black Run

It was here that we got our first taste of deeper woods trail riding for the day.  It was something like Old Long Run but without the stream crossings.  And somehow it seemed darker, but that may have just been my imagination.  It is a very pleasant trail that follows the side of (dry) Black Run up into the hills.  On the map, it appears to continue all the way to Pond Knob (Waypoint 203), but instead, it ends in a grassy area near the streambed.  

Trail ViewTrail ViewEnd Point near Black RunEnd Point near Black RunEnd Point near Black Run

I didn't look closely at the crossing so can't say if there is any chance that the trail could be navigated all the way to Pond Knob - it was pretty grown up and the bear hunter had said that it had not been used since the 1940's.  We took a quick break and then retraced our path.  On our way out we met a couple in a pick-up truck that asked us if we were missing a dog.  All our dogs were accounted for (we started with none and still had them all) so we said thanks and followed them back to to Forest Road 225.

There we stopped and talked with the driver of the vehicle who had asked about the dog.  He gave us directions and trail information, warning us that he had bent two rims on the trail we planned to take.  "Kewl"!  (all things being relative, I am not sure how one could bend a rim out here on these trails but...)

View

We turned north-west on FR 225 and shortly crossed the dry bed of Black Run.  Just before that I noticed the trail going about due east towards Rawley Springs.  It looked open and very well could be.  We continued up FR 225 to a point below Chestnut Ridge at the top of a mild climb where the trail has a small, dead-end spur (Waypoint 229).  We caught up to the bear hunters and stopped to talk to them again.  We relayed the message about missing dogs and they confirmed that they had been in contact with another hunter who was tracking them with radio collars.  So we continued up to where the trail was gated, presumably going up the last way to Chestnut Knob.

12:15 p.m.

View of Meadow Knob from FR 225

As the map shows, the Jeep trail leads off east-west and then turns north-south.  It was rougher going than the trail so far had been.  The bear hunters had advised 4WD, and it was necessary (why else would we be here?). 

Hill Obstacle (minor)

Shortly we came to a place where the trail turned steeply downhill, and had been modified with a bypass around a slope with a rock obstacle (Waypoint 230).  Recent signs (a partly chopped tree and tire ruts) indicated that this could be a difficult place to get past.  We were traveling west and downhill so we chose to attempt the obstacle.  

Paul descends minor obstaclePaul descends minor obstacle

I went down without much trouble, although I did have to choose my line carefully. 

Hugh descending minor obstacleHugh descending minor obstacleHugh descending minor obstacleHugh descending minor obstacle

Hugh followed and acquitted himself nicely.  The bypass looks freshly cut so I imagine that this may be new trail info for anyone who has not been out here since last year.

This portion of the trail is really beautiful.  It follows a high ridge line that spans the distance between Chestnut Ridge and Meadow Knob.  While it is not particularly challenging, it demands constant attention lest a driver become distracted and get off the main trail.  At 3800 feet, this is not recommended...  There are no turn-around locations.  I do not believe this trail would be something to try in bad weather, or in the winter, but everyone has different ideas about "fun"...

After a short section of fairly level trail in the saddle between two higher points, we encountered a climb back up, with some slate steps jutting out of the trail.  This obstacle (Waypoint 231) is fairly typical of the challenges that these trails provide those of us who venture out on them.  I found it to be easy enough, choosing a line that gave me choices if things got rough, and kept me from damaging my Jeep.  I crawled up in 1st-LO and didn't have any trouble keeping traction and landing on top in one piece.  The trail is narrow and steep, and the top does not give much of a choice for where to land, so it is good that this obstacle can be negotiated with little drama. 

Hugh Ascending minor obstacleHugh at top of climbHugh at top of climbHugh at top of climb

Hugh came next and briefly snagged a rock with his left-front tire.  He just backed off a trifle and climbed the rest of the way without incident.  We stopped to enjoy the view from here, which was spectacular.  

Jeeps near small Stone Camp
Shea and Hugh on outlook near Meadow KnobShea and Hugh on outlook near Meadow KnobViewShea finds a caterpillar
Paul making images

There was a another nice outlook before Meadow Knob (Waypoint 232) that we checked out too.

Hugh descending moderate obstacleHugh descending moderate obstacleHugh descending moderate obstacleHugh descending moderate obstacle

Next we came to a little bypass with another optional rock obstacle (Waypoint 233), a very gratuitous one at that.  There is absolutely no reason to attempt this but we did anyway.  Hugh went first on this one (I am not much for needless challenges).  I played spotter and he took good direction.  Once I saw that he got through (only with my expert assistance :-) ), then we traded places and I took my turn. 

Paul descends moderate obstaclePaul descends moderate obstaclePaul descends moderate obstaclePaul descends moderate obstaclePaul descends moderate obstacle

I felt kind of goofy for some of the photos, but what the heck...?  Hugh was very diligent about making sure I didn't mess up my Jeep.  Thanks man!  He also let me direct him in the making of some photos, which involved crawling on the ground.  Much appreciated as I sometimes get almost no pictures of myself on these trips.

2:00 p.m.

Small Stone CampHugh's Dusty Jeep

Just past that we went by the ruins of a Stone Camp (Waypoint 234), probably the namesake of this trail.  It makes me wonder why someone would go through so much trouble to build something like that here, but it is a nice marker.  

Meadow Knob and Hugh's JeepPaul and Hugh's Jeeps on Meadow KnobJoel Lewton group on Meadow KnobJoel Lewton group on Meadow KnobJoel Lewton group on Meadow Knob

Finally we reached Meadow Knob (Waypoint 184).  There was a rocky climb leading to it that was pretty easy to manage.  I realized that I had wanted to check a USGS survey marker on the trail and headed back to see if I could find it.  But the trail passed a little way to the north of the marker and I didn't feel like traipsing through the woods looking for it.  I found a place to turn around and came back to Meadow Knob to find Hugh visiting with Joel Lewton, Brian Langford, and Kelly Langford, who were already there.  We traded trail info and picked up some rubbish that was strewn about.

3:00 p.m.

Then we loaded up and hit the trail towards Flagpole Knob (Waypoint FLAGPL).  At this point the trail opened up and was clearly repaired by heavy equipment.  After the trails we had been riding, this seemed like super-highway.  And indeed, traffic from this point forward increased a great deal.  We saw many people driving large SUV's in the direction of the two knobs, several people camping along the sides of the roads, and most of the side trails closed.  When we reached Flagpole Knob, we found two people up there taking in the view, and a campsite off to one side with a couple tents.

Hugh and Shea on Flagpole KnobHugh and Shea on Flagpole KnobHugh, Shea and Paul on FlagpoleHugh, Shea and Paul on Flagpole
Flagpole Knob grassJeeps on Flagpole KnobJeeps on Flagpole KnobJeeps on Flagpole Knob
View from Flagpole Knob facing EastView from Flagpole Knob facing EastView from Flagpole Knob facing EastView from Flagpole Knob facing East

We got out and took a break.  During this time, I set up my camera and took pictures of the view, the Jeeps, and the three of us.  After a little break, we hit the road and drove back to pavement.  Along the way we found one trail opening that begged exploration, but found many of the trails shown on the map to be closed.

Trail

While not the most difficult 'Wheeling, this was one of the nicest days, and best trail rides I have taken to date.  We shall return...

Epilogue

4:15 p.m.

The drive home was largely uneventful.  We got back to pavement, drove up to a nice little buffet restaurant just east of Route 81, that I had taken the kids before, and had a quick meal.  Then we jumped down to the Jeep wash, cleaned up, and got gas.  We drove the trip home with me gradually leaving Hugh behind.  We lost radio contact at between 1 and 2 miles.   Near Vienna, I switched over to Channel 19 and was listening to the truckers when one yelled "Brake Check!".  I knew what it meant and got the chance to exercise my brakes in panic as all the traffic in front of me locked 'em up and came to a screeching halt.  I took a short "off-road" excursion and avoided the VW Golf in front of me.  I was rewarded with an elevated heart rate and a wave (a full hand) from the driver of the Golf.  After that, the ride home was a piece of cake...

Off Road Index | Shop for Jeep Toys and Books | See the Toy Jeeps

 

 


Flagpole Knob GPS Data

Update 1/5/2008:  GPS Data now provided in GPX format for easy transfer to your GPS!

Purchase GPS Waypoint data and access to topographic maps of this trail using Pay Pal!

Pay me securely with any major credit card through PayPal!

GPS Waypoint data is now available for a moderate fee ($10.00 U.S.).

This contribution allows us to maintain this web site, collect and maintain GPS waypoint data, and periodically verify its accuracy.  All GPS Waypoints have been verified in the field.

If you would like to purchase the coordinates for this trail, simply complete the two questions below and click "Buy Now" to pay for your purchase using Pay Pal.

For a free sample of how our GPS data is presented to our customers, click here.

How did you hear about us?
Are you planning a trip on this trail?
(Flagpole Knob)

IMPORTANT - After you pay with PayPal be sure to click the orange button shown circled below from the PayPal Payment confirmation Screen to go to the GPS Data you purchased!

 

 


Click or the [ BACK ] button on your browser to return to the previous page.

Home

Photos, Layout and Design 2001-2008 Paul M. Provencher All Rights Reserved.
Contents of this Web Site may not be used without written permission.

Hit Counter Visits Since 9/13/2001

Last Updated 02/09/2008 11:23:45 AM -0500