Suggested Trails

Longdale Furnace/North Mountain trail.

Looking South from the ridge line at the first overlook.

Looking South from the ridge line at the first overlook.

A few weekends ago, after hearing about the unique ridge line and rock features near Longdale Furnace, a friend and I set out to explore some unknown terrain about an hour south of Harrisonburg. 

Looking south west from the ridge line somewhere near the halfway point on the ridge.

Looking south west from the ridge line somewhere near the halfway point on the ridge.

After a hefty gravel road climb up to the top of the ridge we entered the single track.  From here we rode south west on the ridge.  The first mile or two is loamy, rocky single track with a constant overlook view to the left.  After this the trail begins to undulate more and become less rocky for several miles. 

One of many great views from the ridge top.

One of many great views from the ridge top.

After a few big rollers on the ridge, you start to enter a section where house size boulders populate the ridge top creating a maze of rock hallways.  Through this section you are on and off the bike due to the steepness and width of the trail.

Through the maze.

Through the maze.

The end of the rock maze pushes you up through this steep narrow slot.  Terrain here requires you to turn your bars sideways parallel to the bike, to fit your bike up through this slot.  After this slot the trail leaves the ridge.  Starting with fast smooth bench cut super highways connected by tight switch backs.  Eventually dumping you into a small creek drainage with super a narrow bench cut that takes you back down to the car.

This slot marks the end of the ridge and the beginning of the descent.

This slot marks the end of the ridge and the beginning of the descent.

Getting there: Take 81 South to exit 191.  form exit 161 take 64 West to Exit 35 for Longdale Furnace.  the parking area is about a mile From Exit 35.

Stop by the shop for more details, maps, and directions!

First Impressions - Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower 27.5+

Every Friday night in July my family hosts what we call, Fiesta Fridays. We have a bunch of friends over for tacos and let our kids stay-up late catching lightening bugs. It's a blast, but it usually means I'm up way past my bedtime. 

Gassing up for my first ride on the Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower 27.5+

This past Friday was no exception. Friends left at 10:30 or so and I was cleaning up queso until after 11. I then ran to the shop to pick up a freshly built Demo Santa Cruz Hightower 27.5+. (Yes, you can demo this bike, just call us.)

I was pumped to get out on this bike and made plans to meet a friend out at the Briery Branch Reservoir at 6am the next morning. I was going to get a very little amount of sleep.

In my eagerness I actually arrived a good 15 minutes before 6, which if you know me, I am rarely early. Ben arrived and we loaded up for a big mountain day. Thanks to the recent Tour de Burg, a usually overgrown trail, Death Star, had been cleared and we wanted to ride it while it was in perfect form. (Thanks TdB folks!)

This meant we'd be climbing the road up to the saddle at Reddish Knob and then continuing out towards Flag Pole Knob. On the road, the Hightower was well mannered. The VPP suspension made sure I got the most out of each pedal stroke and even though the bike isn't light, it isn't hefty either. 

Before reaching Flag Pole, we veered left and took another double track road towards Death Star. We made great time and the temperature was in the high 60's - it was ideal. As we pointed our bikes downward, I got really excited to see how the Hightower would perform. It was my first time riding Death Star and Ben knew it would be a great place to test the bike, as it has a little bit of everything - double track, single track, ridge riding, rocks, roots, steep descents and ascents, off camber trail, and the list goes on.

A section of Death Star Trail in the GWNF.

We stopped after some descending and right away I knew the Hightower preferred to be pointed downward. The big wheels made the bike float and be a steam roller at the same time. I burnt in the brakes really fast! I was on the Carbon C level bike with dropper post and 1x suspension. There are quite a few levels higher than this build, but at the first level with a dropper post and carbon it's still a dream bike.

As we crossed the ridge and even took a few rock shoots, I was continually impressed by the bike. I could tell it didn't want to hop and play as much as Ben's Santa Cruz Bronson, but at the same time, the Hightower could tackle anything. It never felt too big or bulky and the geometry definitely oriented the bike towards enjoyable descents.

I had a little issue keeping the nose down on the first two short and steep climbs, but figured that out quickly and I'd chalk that up to rider error for the most part. Typically I'm nervous on off camber sections, but the Hightower felt super stable and gave me more confidence. I don't know if I went any faster on those sections, but I know I was less nervous about having my front wheel run off the trail and face planting thanks to the sure-footedness (is that a term?) of the bike.

At the bottom of Death Star we both agreed that has to be a top 10 trail in the George Washington National Forest. It's got it all. We only wished it was longer and maybe a little easier to access. Because now we were in West Virginia and had to climb back up the backside of Reddish. There was no calling it quits now, if we wanted to go home, we had to make the climb. 

Taking a breather midway up the backside of Reddish Knob

A natural spring - water anyone?

Six miles up to the Reddish Knob Spiral. Those were a tough six miles, but again the bike was great and the 1x11 (30t up front) gearing didn't hold me back (maybe I'm getting a little stronger). Reaching the top was a great feeling. 

I leaned the Hightower against the guardrail, drank a few big gulps of water and surveyed the land we had just covered. I was impressed with the bike and myself. Running on less than 5 hours of sleep I wasn't hallucinating - I was having a blast.

Looking west on Reddish Knob. Ben is planning his attack on the stairs.

That all being said, I wasn't feeling invincible. Ben took the stairs off the spiral and I had no shame in walking them. He said he'd never made all the stairs and the turn at the bottom, well he did that day and he made it look easy. Kudos to all the riders that can do that!

To finish off our ride, we were going to take Timber Ridge and Lynn back to the cars. Timber is a brutal trail. It's rocky and fast. It has a handful of steep sections of trail where my legs begged for a break and I often obliged. This is where I tested the hike-a-bike ability of the Hightower, and it passed. It can be pushed with the best of them, ha.

Conversely to the sections where I resulted to pushing the bike, on the downhill sections the bike felt like a rocket ship. The big tires ate up all the scattered rocks and the suspension was in the sweet spot of plush and responsive. By the time we'd hit the drops before Lynn, I was hooting and hollering from excitement (and to take my mind off my burning legs). 

It wasn't long before we were back at the cars and I was officially ready to make room in my garage for the Hightower. It checked off most every box for me and for the ones it didn't I think some suspension tweaks and upcoming 27.5+ tire releases can solve. 

Now I just need to try it as a 29er!


Looking towards home - Harrisonburg, VA.

Must Visit Local Trails - Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison University

Looking for a running or walking oasis in the heart of Harrisonburg? We'll we have the perfect spot for you - James Madison University's, Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

JMU's Arboretum is a scientific preserve that is tucked in between JMU's East Campus, Costco, and some college apartments. Their mission is to have gardens and forested greenspace to preserve native plant species, provide opportunities for research, and promote knowledge of the botanical and natural world. (Beautiful and Clean - CHECK)

One of the many places to sit and enjoy the flowers.

It's a beautiful place, all year around. This woodland sanctuary differs from a public park by having some specific rules. In order to care for the gardens as best as possible, lawn games and biking on the trails are not allowed, but running and walking throughout the network of trails are a MUST. (Run, Walk, Stroll - CHECK)

This kiosk gives a good overview of the trail network, as well as the many activities hosted at the Arboretum.

You'll find many on-foot access points to the Arboretum's trails, but you can also park in one of the two lots off of University Blvd. We've entered the trails from Neff Avenue, the Forest Hills neighborhood, as well as two different entrances near JMU's Convocation Center. (Easy Access - CHECK)

Flowers near the pond at JMU's Arboretum.

One of the best parts of running these trails is that most of the time you are in the shade of the tree canopy, making the Arboretum a great place to exercise in the summer. Just like the rest of Harrisonburg, the Arboretum isn't very flat. It is by no means a hilly, but there are some gradual ups and downs within the gardens. If you want you can form a pretty casual route along the perimeter of the trails, but you can also create a winding and adventurous route with sharp turns, bridges, and narrow paths. There are no formal route directions, so you can always spice up your run. Choose your own adventure!  (Safe and Lots of Options - CHECK)

Cross the bridge in either direction for shaded trail runs.

The grounds are open and free to the public from dawn to dusk, all year around. Go and visit!