Neal Gorman November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 1

Virginia Playground - Page 3

Trail Races

Bel Monte Endurance Runs 50M, 50K, 25K, March 26, 2011, Sherando Lake Recreation Area and the George Washington National Forest. This rugged, mountainous race is on mostly technical single- and doubletrack trails, with some gravel roads. On race day, it could be snowing or a pleasant early spring temperature. In the 50-miler, 11,009 feet of elevation gain is spread over three long climbs. www.badtothebone.biz

Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions 100K (UROC) and Great Eastern Endurance Run 50K and Half Marathon, September 24, 2011, Wintergreen Resort, Blue Ridge Mountains and George Washington National Forest. In UROC's 100K, climb nearly 13,000 feet and compete against some of the biggest names in ultra trail running over ribbons of technical, mountain singletrack, gravel roads and a few fast miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not up for 62 miles? The 50K and Half Marathon share portions of the same course. UROC offers a cash purse to the top-five male and female finishers, as well as additional incentives to elite runners who toe the line. www.badtothebone.biz

Winter Solstice Run, 18-plus-mile trail loop on the third Saturday each December. Circumnavigate Charlottesville on the singletrack Rivanna Trail. There is no official registration or event fee. Look for details from run organizer, Sophie Speidel, this fall: http://charlottesvilleareatrailrunners.blogspot.com.


Best Charlottesville Trails

Rivanna Trail. Loop the entire town of Charlottesville along this woodland, 18-plus-mile halo, accessible from multiple trailheads around town. Bring extra water and tack on seven bonus miles with a hilly circuit on Observatory Hill (O-Hill). The Rivanna Trail has many spurs, and a recommended three-mile off-shoot is the River North Trail that begins at Penn Park on the northwest section of town and parallels the Rivanna River through grassy meadows, with no nearby homes and lots of wildlife including bald eagles, deer, coyotes, river otters, turkeys, red and grey foxes and—on rare occasions—black bears. Download free trail maps at www.rivanna.avenue.org.

Monticello. A 7.5-mile network of steep, woodland and natural grassland trails weaves up to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, the third President of the United States of America's mansion in the sky, located on the southern edge of town. Download free trail maps at www.monticello.org.

Walnut Creek Park. Fifteen minutes south of town, accessible off Route 29, this state park has 15 hilly miles of forested singletrack and a swimming lake for cooling off after hot summer runs. Trails here were built and are maintained by mountain bikers so be prepared to share space.

Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail (AT), one of the most storied trails in the world, passes near Charlottesville along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, through the old-growth hardwood forest lands of the Shenandoah National Park. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (www.patc.net) produces excellent trail maps of the Shenandoah National Park and AT. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears and rattlesnakes in the summer.

Shenandoah Mountain Trail. On the west side of the Shenandoah Mountains in the Ramsey's Draft Wilderness Area. 12- to 14-miles roundtrip, it is mostly a narrow, dry, grassy ridge and has less snow in the winter than other trails in the area. It is rain shadowed in the summer, has no stream crossings and reaches an elevation of nearly 3400 feet. On a clear day, you can see 50 miles into the mountains of West Virginia.


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