Sherando Lake Recreational Area || GWNF

Getting a ride in when you can get it in seems like the standard mode of operation for me these days. Days are packed working and just doing what needs to be done around the house, just to set yourself up for the next work week. 

But as the saying goes "The mountains are calling and I must go".

After what seems like weeks of rain, it hits me that I need to take my bike to the mountains. Without much planning, I figured I would go ride Sherando Lake Recreational Area.  As I got up Sunday morning I downloaded two GPX files to my GPS and figured I would take one of the two routes.

I also loaded the GPX files to and shared the two routes via email with my wife and a friend to let someone know where I would be for the day. 

After a couple of hours of driving, I find my parking place in a small gravel lot off of Fire Road 42 better known as Coal Road.  From this point, my adventure starts. It's only a short time before I realize that my GPX file is not quite the same route that I am taking... I have done this part of the trail before so it's no big deal.

The first part of my route follows Turkey Pen Ridge Trail which is an old road filled with big mud puddles. At some point, Turkey Pen Ridge turns into Mill Creek Trail and I am greeted with five stream fords over the next couple of miles.

Mill Creek Trail Sherando Lake Recreational Area
Mill Creek Trail

In the picture, it doesn't look deep, but in each stream, ford ended up knee-deep at some point. I have never ford a stream here where the water was not deep or fast-moving. Glad I packed a spare set of socks to change into at the top of the mountain.

Mills Creek ford Sherando Lake Recreational Area
One of the five creek fords

After about six miles of riding, I came to my first climbing challenge. A series of switchbacks that climb 1000 vertical feet in a mile. It has always been a goal of mine to be about to climb all of this section. I am far from reaching that goal... But as I climbed I saw there was a cloud covering the top of the mountain and I was sure the view from the overlook would be hidden from me.

Summit  Sherando Lake Recreational Area
In the clouds at the summit

While my view was gone it was time to eat lunch and put on a fresh pair of socks. 

Summit Sherando Lake Recreational Area
Lean your bike against something photo

At this point, I figured the Blue Ridge Parkway also had clouds on it and it might be too dangerous for me to ride a few miles since I did not have any red blinking lights so drivers could see me. I made the call that I would ride back to Torry Ridge. 

I am sure I had ridden Torry Ridge at some time in my life but I don't remember it. Now I do! Yep, I think I rode as much as I hike-a-bike the trail.

Torry Ridge Sherando Lake Recreational Arae
Rock Garden along Torry Ridge

Torry Ridge Sherando Lke Recreational Area
Another Hike-a-bike

There are a few trails off of Torry Ridge that will take you to the campground and lake area of Sherando. Once I got to the end of Torry Ridge (which seemed like hours) I took a left which the trail sign said would take me back to Mill Creek Trail. This part of the trail was not on my GPX file but I was heading in the right direction. Soon I came to an intersection that I had not been on. At this point, I started to wonder where I was and how far I was from my car. 

This was a point where I just needed to stop filtering some water and think about which way to go. While drinking some water I pushed the page button on my GPS to the compass page and saw I was two miles out from my starting point. So I had a 50/50 shot either way I went. Back on the bike, the distance starts to count down and I come out at Sherando Church which is about a mile down the road from the car.

I roll up back to the car only to find my friend and the guy that I purchased the Surly from. Glen from Shift Bicycles. Glen and his buddy had just finished up the Blue Ridge Wrangler.  This is a route that I want to do in the spring.

It was an epic day for me and I look forward to sharing another with you.


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