Old Long Run/Gauley Ridge/German River

Carl Smith


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Jim send a note suggesting that we take a ride on Old Long Run.  I chimed in and commented that perhaps we could tack Gauley Ridge and German River onto the itinerary.   Everyone seemed to think that was a good idea so we made plans to meet on Sunday and go out there.   Late on Saturday, I received word that some severe weather had taken down some trees on Old Long Run, blocking the trail.  So I packed a chain saw...  The weather started out cool and foggy but the weather forecast called for "partly sunny in the high '60's, so we were optimistic.



I met Carl, Jeff and Chris rolling down route 270 and continued to Wendy's in Manassas where the rest of the crowd formed up.  At about 10 minutes to 8:00, we crossed under Route 66 and had a quick stop at McDonalds (Wendy's is marked to open at 7 but was still not open).  Then we hit the road and drove, with one stop, to McDorman's.

Wendy'sPaul and TJOn the Road
Tailgunner View
Tailgunner View


When we arrived, who should we find, but Mark Long.  I guess he decided to join us and owing to his western starting point usually meets us out here.  We lined up the Jeeps and attended to provisions and trail prep.  Most folks aired down and disconnected.  My kids went and reestablished their relationship with the dogs and large pig that are penned at the far end of the parking lot.  I don't have the heart to tell them that one day that pig will probably be in sandwiches sold at the store...  Just before we left, a small group of various Jeeps went by, including a military surplus "something or other".


We rode out to the beginning of Old Long Run without event.


Old Long Run | Gauley Ridge | German River

Old Long Run

Once we reached the trail head, we found the column that went by us at McDorman's.  A group of people were busy reassembling a front hub on a Jeep and several others were checking out the military vehicle.  The rest of our group disconnected and aired down and we hit the trail.

Other Trail UsersOther Trail Users

The first stop was the usual hill climb.  Everyone went down and up.  Wayne was making his first trip and tackled the hill with everyone else.  

Chris on Old Long RunWayne's first climbMark LongOld Long Run Hill ClimbOld Long Run Hill Climb

Lower end of Old Long Run

Everyone enjoyed one section where the stream and the trail merge and a small obstacle presents itself.

Carl SmithEd Swinehart and EliseMark LongChris on Old Long RunChris on Old Long Run

We traveled along the trail, stopping as necessary to check the best line, clear debris and to watch people at the crossings.  Eventually, we reached the place where a large tree and several smaller trees had fallen across the trail. 

Trail WorkTrail WorkTrail WorkTrail Clean-up Results

Mark produced a chain saw, and together we got started on the larger portions.  The rest of the group worked with bow saws and soon we had a path wide enough to get through without too much trouble.  It was great team work, and helped to keep the trail from taking another diversion into the stream...  From there it was an easy climb to the top of the trail at Gauley Ridge.


We drove up into a clearing on the ridge and took a break for lunch.  It is easy to see from the photos that the weather was perfect:  Cool, dry (trail was damp keeping dust down), sunny, and few, if any bugs.

LunchLunchLunchLunchLunchLunch on Gauley RidgeLunch on Gauley Ridge

After lunch, we retraced a previous trip route and headed down Gauley Ridge Road.

Old Long Run | Gauley Ridge | German River


Gauley Ridge

Old Long Run and Gauley Ridge

This section is a dirt road that is easy passage.  I chose it to provide an off-pavement connection to German River, the main destination for this part of the trip.  Chris, Jeff and Mark chose to head back to civilization and presumably took FR 72 back to pavement.  The rest of the group continued (in 2WD or 4-HI) along Gauley Ridge.  The views were spectacular, and the driving was easy.

Down tree on Gauley Ridge RdDown tree on Gauley Ridge RdDown tree on Gauley Ridge RdDown tree on Gauley Ridge Rd

Near where the hiking trail heads east, we encounter a large tree that had fallen across the trail.  As my chain saw was both dull and out of gas, we opted to scout and locate a bypass that allowed us to drive around the tree.  We were able to clear dead branches with a bow saw and drive around with very low impact.

Gauley Ridge

Shortly after that, I found a flat spot and put my top down.  Unfortunately, one of the few disadvantages of the rack is the requirement that it be flipped out of the way if you are to put your top down.  This requires a level spot (or nearly so) and that the rack be empty.  My normal cargo up there is pretty light and well anchored so I usually just flip the rack back carefully and fold the top down.

We continued to Dull Hunt Trail and wove our way along the switchbacks.  We made a brief stop to check the view. 

Break TimeHill ClimbPower Lines on Dull HuntPower Lines on Dull HuntPower Lines on Dull HuntPower Lines on Dull Hunt

Eric noticed that someone in front of him (Carl or me) had run over a green grass snake.  The prognosis for continued survival of the snake was not good.  He just blended too well for his own good, for I am sure that we would not have run over him intentionally.

Eventually, we reached Forest Road 87.  At this point it was about 3:00pm.  Wayne, Ed and Elise decided to head for pavement.  We gave them general directions for getting back to pavement and left them airing up.  My apologies to them for citing "Route 813" as one of the legs - it is actually Route 818...  Later Ed told me "We made it out without any problems. I did notice 818 and not 813, but I just kept going as the road got better and better, and we were clearly headed for civilization."

Old Long Run | Gauley Ridge | German River


German River

The last time I went out to German River, we explored a piece of trail that weaves around the side of a mountain.  My hope was that this time we'd do the same and clear the fallen timber that stopped us last time.  However, since we were running later than anticipated due to our other clearing activities, I didn't expect we'd have time for more.

The drive up FR 87 was longer than I remember, and rougher, but soon we reached the entrance to the trail system.  I remembered the turns from last time and my waypoints helped me feel confident.  However, at a spot between waypoints 106 and 107, a fork in the road appeared.  It looked like waypoint 107 was to be reached by going left so I chose that fork.  Wrong.  We soon reached a dead end with a large hill to one side.  It appears to be decayed sandstone or something like that.  I guess it's the closest we'll come to rock crawling here on the east coast.

The approach was quite steep and at first I didn't think it would be wise to attempt.  But Jim went ahead and started climbing it.  I had walked to the top to see if there was room for a vehicle to turn around because from the bottom it appeared that there wasn't a flat area.  There turned out  to be a decent area on top so Jim's decision to climb was rewarded when he reached the top with an easy turn-around.  The first picture gives some idea of the hill.  Look at the Land Rover at the bottom and note that you are looking at its roof...

Jim reaches for skyJim reaches for earthJim reaches for earthJim reaches for earth

Eric took his Land Rover Discovery up a different way, but came down the same way Jim had done.  

Eric's turnEric's turnDisco Hill KingDisco Hill King

Next, Carl went up.  His trip up was uneventful.  When he got to the top, he decided to turn around but was still on the side of the hill.  There was an awful moment where all of us watching were yelling "STOP STOP STOP!" and "HEEEEYYYY!".  Carl was showing is the floor of his Jeep, while perched on the side of the hill...  His right-front wheel was barely touching the ground and everyone except Carl thought he was coming down the hill using his roll-bar.  He stopped this and went back up to a more level place and turned around to come down.  End of excitement.  

Carl goes up

I went up and avoided Carl's turn around method, and came back down.  I tried to use the line that "Big Jim" had used, but my transfer case skid plate hit the break-over point, preventing me from doing so.

AttemptsAttemptsAttemptsAttemptsAttemptsAttemptsAttemptsClimbingClimbingAt the TopAt the TopPaul and TJ during DescentPaul and TJ during Descent

After this little diversion, we backtracked to the fork in the road and took the other branch.  We drove down the trail and encountered a group of horseback riders. 

Horses on Trail

As soon as I saw them I asked everyone to shut down and wait until they had passed.  The riders each thanked us, so I guess that was a good move.  It is hard to know if the animals are used to vehicles so rather than tempt fate, I just figured the best thing to do was to be silent and still.  That way the horses would not spook.

Once the riders had passed we continued a short way to where the side trail branches of to the left.  As it was 4:00 pm, I suggested that we save that for another day when the chain saw was fresh and there was more time.  I think it is about a 1.5 hour side trip not counting trail work so it was a good decision the group made to skip it.

Shortly after crossing the stream, we skipped the left turn that the last group had taken, and worked our way out to FR 87 again.  The trail was interesting, if not very challenging.  I think I was in 4-HI most of the way.

Trails End

Toms Park Lane near German RiverToms Park Lane near German River

When we got to the road, we parked and started airing up and connecting.  A local Rottweiler came out to see what we were doing.  I am glad I did not see him until after the owner came to retrieve it as I am not very trusting of that breed of dog and might have made my kids nervous with my concern.  I know it's the training (or lack thereof) but one can never tell with any strange dog.

It took quite a while to get put back in road trim but we did it.  I had to divide my attention between keeping the kids out of the road and out of the creek, and to airing up, installing top, and reconnecting.  Finally we were ready to roll!


On the way out to the highway, we found a little Chinese buffet.  We stopped and had a bite then got back on the road and went home. 

On the road homeOn the road home

We traveled all the way to the Beltway with Carl and Eric.  Jim took a south-western route so he could head out to points west.  This is a good day trip and would probably be about 2 hours shorter with bigger compressors, chain saws, and bladders!

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Last Updated 02/09/2008 10:32:25 AM -0500

Updated 02/09/08 10:32:25 -0500