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This will all make more sense if you download and display Steve’s map, which divides the process in to A, B, C, and D steps. (You can download the map by right-clicking on the link and choosing “Save Target As . . . .”)
Directions to the Start:
Park and start at the A.T. lot on Tuckers Lane just off highway 55 (see “A” on the map)—Exit 18 off I-66, turn left on 688, then right onto highway 55. Turn right off 55 for the A.T. onto Tuckers Lane, which will cross back under I-66 to the parking lot, which will be on your right.
To drop off a car at the finish: Follow the directions as above, but continue past Tuckers Lane following Rt. 55 (John Marshall Highway) into Front Royal. It will be called South St. in Front Royal. Rt. 55 (South St.) will come to a stoplight at a ”T” intersection at S. Royal Ave. (Rt. 340). Turn left and follow S. Royal Ave. for about a half mile to the entrance to Skyline Drive. Turn left onto Skyline Drive. Park along the right where the Dickey Ridge Trail crosses Skyline Drive about a quarter mile from the turn. (If you’re coming down Rt. 340, just pick up the directions as you drive past the “T” at South St./Rt. 55.)
Directions for the Run (Last updated 8/24/09):
- The run starts from the A.T. parking lot off hwy. 55. The section of trail will be marked with white blazes.
- [A]: Head south on the A.T. toward Shenandoah National Park.
- The first 8 miles include a long climb on rocky trail to start but then you’ll have pretty good footing except for a few short rocky sections.
- Follow the A.T. to Rte. 522. When you find yourself running beside a 10′ high chain link fence and wonder what kind of critter its keeping out—or in—then you’re almost to highway 522.
- Follow the trail straight down to 522 and then turn right between the road and the fence. (You should see the two white blazes on a post right at the turn.) The trail runs parallel with the road down to the parking area.
- [B]: This is the first aid stop. [Crew Directions: From the intersection of 55 and 522 in Front Royal, proceed 3 miles south on 522. You'll see a small parking area on the right hand side of the road. It will be the only option at the 3 mile point, and you'll see the distinctive A.T. mile post next to an entrance to the trail.]
- Cross Rte 522, and begin climbing about 4 miles to gain about 1,300 feet.
- After you pass the Tom Floyd Wayside (shelter), you’ll begin a steep climb that will end with some rocky switchbacks bringing you to Possum’s Rest Overlook. Enjoy the view over toward Dickey Ridge—you’re going to end up there in a little while.
- Continue following the white blazes. A short stretch of smooth trail will take you toward Compton Gap in Shenandoah National Park.
- You will come to a “T” intersection in the trail marked with a concrete post.
- Turn right (north) to continue toward the Dickey Ridge Trail (yellow blazes).
- You will run until the trail splits into three at a concrete post. Turn right and follow the trail to the next concrete post.
- Bear right on the trail at the post, which will bring you the last half-mile or so to Skyline Drive and the parking lot where scheduled aid would be.
- [C]: Follow the trail to where it crosses Skyline Drive. This is the second aid stop. [You can see a number 9 next to a little triangle on the map near the spot. [Crew Directions: Turn from 340 ino the entrance to the Skyline Drive and proceed approximately 9 miles to the Hickerson Hollow parking area, which will be on your right. There are trail posts on either side of the road, one on the left identifying Hickerson Hollow (which is hard to see) and another at the entrance to the parking area that says "No Fires" among other things. If you get to Compton Gap, you've gone about a mile too far. Note: It costs $15 per vehicle to enter Shenandoah National Park on the Skyline Drive, so have some cash handy. The pass is good for one week.]
- Continue on the trail. [Click for a map of the final section--you'll be running from the bottom left of the map to the top right.]
- Stay left, continuing up hill (and DO NOT take the Snead Farm Loop Trail). There will be a long climb up to a spectacular view looking over the Signal Knob overlook, then a nice long downhill to where the trail passes the Visitor’s Center. In fact, it’s virtually all downhill after the overlook.
- Watch where the trail breaks out into what appears to be an open field on a hillside. (One of those concrete marker posts sits right at the edge of the woods on the left at this spot.) You will see a mowed path that runs up the hill. Follow that about 200 yards and across the road to the Visitor’s Center, where you can get water, use a real toilet, and sit for a few minutes enjoying the view.
- [Optional Crew Directions: you can meet your runners at the Visitor's Center one last time if you like. Probably the best way to coordinate this is to tell runners passing through the previous stop the time you plan to leave the Visitor's Center. If somebody skips that stop, you won't have to wonder where they are.]
- From the Visitor’s Center, cross back over the road, and head downhill (to the left) toward the finish. Stay to the left and DO NOT take the Fox Hollow trail when you see its marker.
- You’ll know you’re almost done when you end up running the last mile or so along a beautiful creek that will probably look inviting.
- Dickey Ridge Trail will cross the start of Skyline Drive about 1/4 of a mile from the entrance at 340.
- [D]: Done! Shuttle back to start.
* This was called Sean’s BHTR (Big Horn Trail Run) simulator because he recommended it as preparation. I’ve changed the name to Dickey Ridge Trail mainly because it’s more geographically descriptive and easier to say.
[Note: The nature of this run makes getting the directions just right a challenge. For example, crew may miss the Hickerson Hollow parking lot if they blink while driving. If you see a problem with what is posted here, please drop me a note with specific corrections. ]