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Veach Gap – George Washington National Forest

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Hike Summary

Oh the weather, the weather continues with its mercurial behavior! Most of the whole week was a mess, with nothing but rain. This time I was a little better about planning ahead, and switched around my normal hiking day to a Friday instead of a Thursday.

I had intended to go on a different hike than this one, but because of the day change, I was worried that the parking area (near Old Rag) for the other one would be too crowded on a  Friday, so Veach Gap it was.

I managed to get out of the house in a fairly timely fashion and got to the trailhead at about 8AM. It was a little chilly, and I was almost fearful that I needed a jacket, so I packed my rain coat just in case. However, once I got my muscles moving, this fear was pretty minor. It was a nice day, mild and pleasant. I am trying to really appreciate and treasure these days, as I know they won’t last, and soon the swelter of real VA summer will be here.

Veach Gap trail goes for about a mile or so, with Mill Run running alongside it for the way up to the junction. There was one crossing that was very confusing for me, as the trail guide mentioned that the trail crossed Mill Run, but my GPS and the map were kinda vague on where the trail went after that, and Mill Run was pretty swollen from the previous weeks rains. Luckily, I finally spied the yellow blazes going up the left side, and realized that the creek had slightly overtaken the trail. It wasn’t in a dangerous manner that required wading or anything, just a little bit of intermittent stream action. I followed it up, and eventually hit the intersection with the Tuscarora and Massanutten trails, both of which went up to the ridge.

There was a lot of switchbacky trail hiking up the gap by Little Crease Mountain, and then we finally broke out onto the ridge. I could see Massanutten Mountain in the distance, between the trees, and it looked very fine.

I saw lots of signs of a recent forest fire (I later discovered this was last year) as I continued up to the top of the ridge.

There were excellent views of the Shenandoah River from this point of view. It was far down in the distance, but still quite pretty and picturesque. I was feeling pretty energetic, and it still felt pretty early in the day, so I decided to add an additional mile to my hike, and I kept going up along the ridge, following the Massanutten/Tuscarora trail.

The Tuscarora Trail seems like it would be a pretty fun trail to go on a hike on. It is around 250 miles, and both starts and ends on the AT, starting out from Shenandoah Park in VA, winding through VA and WV, and ending up back at the AT in PA. It mostly goes through National Forest, and has many shelters like the AT. Perhaps one day I’ll get to go do some serious backpacking and do something like that.

For now, back to the trail. I had a snack at one of the campsites along the ridgeline, and then headed back down. I wanted to go visit the Veach Gap shelter, but that pesky Old Mill Run was quite swollen at the intersection, and I was feeling too lazy to take my boots off to cross. Back to the car I went, finally seeing other people just pulling in as I was pulling out.

One of the advantages of getting up so early was being able to catch lunch on the way back. I stopped at Spelunker’s in Front Royal, and had a (small) hamburger and some frozen custard. Both were quite excellent, and they were nice enough to give me a pup cup size for my dog, who very much appreciated it. Spelunker’s reminds me of how Five Guys was before they became a big chain, and is probably a place I’ll try to make sure to stop at on future hikes in the area.

2013-06-14 Veach Gap
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