Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cool Training Runs, Part 4: Rip Rap/Wildcat Ridge in the SNP

View from the Rip Rap/Wildcat Ridge trail looking west toward Massanutten Mountain, which is just peeking over the top of Trayfoot ridge.

Every once in awhile I like to post about my favorite training runs, just in case one of my readers needs a new trail to discover. Over the past few years I have posted on the Priest and Three Ridges, the Wild Oak Trail, and Catawba. All are solid, 5-9 hour outings with tons of climbing, great views and beautiful trail.

This morning Quatro and I ran the Rip Rap/Wildcat Ridge/AT loop in the Shenandoah National Park. This 20+ mile circuit was first introduced to me by VHTRC buddies Greg Loomis and Jeff Wilbur. It's a 25 minute drive from my front door to the trailhead (I know, I know...lucky!). The parking area is at the Sugar Hollow reservoir, which at 7:00am is nearly empty but at 12 noon is usually packed with day hikers and swimmers. This morning temps were in the high 30s at the start and didn't get out of the 50s all morning, so we saw very few swimmers when we returned.

I brought Jack on this run---temps were low enough and there was ample water available along the route. I do envision running this loop a lot in the summer, but in very hot weather it would be prudent to bring water treatment tablets or a filter and pump as the middle section is over an hour without a water source.

Here are some pics of the day...

Sophie and Jack crossing the first of eight medium-sized streams...this is a run where you will get your feet wet.

Looking upstream at the Moorman's River erosion...in 1996, this entire gorge was flooded and it changed the landscape forever.

Little Blue Hole, a favorite place for swimming (especially for families with young kids), about a mile from the parking area. The rock in the center is a great place to jump off into 5+ feet of water.

Q poses in front of Blackrock Falls, about 3 miles up the trail.

Typical trail

Looking west at the Shenandoah Valley from Chimney Rocks

Cool rock formations at Chimney Rocks

Q poses in front of another fave trail route, the Blackrock/Trayfoot Mountain loop (part of the ridgeline behind him).

Rip Rap gorge

Swimming hole in Rip Rap gorge that was voted "best kept secret swimming hole" by Blue Ridge Outdoors---note the slip n slide into the hole.

The 2 mile climb out of the gorge, which I ran in 27 minutes---great hill training!

Since this was MMT training run #3 in 36 hours for Q, he opted to power hike instead.

The Blue Hole, known around these parts as a fave place for high rock jumping and lots of college student parties. This is at mile 19 of the run---perfect after a hot day on the trail.

The end of the run...the Moorman's River before it dumps into the Sugar Hollow Reservoir downstream.

Overall, a great training run in perfect weather! Here is the link to more details about the Rip Rap/Wildcat Ridge trail.

n.b.: a shout out to my training partner Bill Potts who is running his first Boston Marathon on Monday, then following it up with Promise Land 50K on Saturday...and to my friends Anne and Hallie, wishing them healing thoughts as they recover from injury. Big hugs to you both!

3 comments:

Rick Gray said...

Sounds like a great loop run with some nice climbs and super nice swimming holes. Just the thing needed for some heat training. Looks like you and Quatro had a grand ole time out there enjoying a some beautiful trails and spectacular views!

Bill is going to run great today at his first Boston. I wonder if it will slow him down at Promise Land!

I hope things are not too bad with Anne and Hallie and that they will heal soon and get back to running.

ultrarunnergirl said...

Wow, great photos, looks like a gorgeous run! Thanks for letting us in on some of your best trails!

clynton said...

Gorgeous views! Looks absolutely lovely to run. Looking forward to reading more of your posts and learning some tricks on fitting running into a family schedule.