Glenwood Horse Trail (GHT) – This is a 65+ mile network of advanced single track and jeep roads along the Blue Ridge Parkway from Natural Bridge Station to Camp Bethel outside of Nace. I like the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map #789 for these trails (also at Outdoor Trails). You can find a great story and pictures from the Hellgate 100k from the Roanoke Times
Map #1 and #2 of the Hellgate 100k Trail run. I participated in the first year of this race in 2003 and finished 9th. This race starts at 12:01am on the second Saturday in December. There isn’t another trail ultra quite like it.
Common loops I run/ride:
1. Park at Black Horse Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), travel south on the parkway to the first Forest Service Road (FSR). This is Salt Pond Road. The road crosses the BRP and there is a gate on both sides of the BRP. Go left. You will take this FSR to Quarry road on the left. Follow this road until you come to a horse trail sign. The trail goes up a rocky trail to the left. The trail has good climbs, rocky ridge riding, and rocky descents. The trail will eventually dump you on a gravel road. Take a left and this will take you to the Day Creek Day Use area. From here you can either climb 2.8 miles up to where you are parked or continue straight on the GHT. If you continue on you are in for a long, long ride. Maybe you should wait for another day.
2. Find your way to Camp Bethel. Continue past the camp on the gravel road and park at the 4 way about a mile up the road. You will want to take the road straight in front of you with the yellow gate. From here ride up to Black Horse Gap on BRP. Cross the parkway and head down. Be forewarned, this is a fast, fast, fast downhill with some whoops in it. You will go down to a gate, go around, and then in about .8 miles when you get to the parking area you will want to look towards the left side of the road for the GHT trail entrance. This section is about 5.8 miles long but will feel like 10. The trail will dump you out on a dirt road. Take a left. This will take you to Boblett’s Gap on the BRP. The climb is about 3.2 miles. Go under the parkway and take the trail to the right. This will take you to the Boblett’s Gap overlook. From here take a right/south on the BRP. After about 3 miles on the Parkway you will find a trail sign on top of a hill. This is Spec. Mines. If you miss it, keep riding on the BRP and you will end up at Black Horse Gap again. Just go down to the car. Careful on the descent, there are a lot of rocks and lots of space for speed. If you found Spec Mines you are in for a treat. This is a great downhill trail. Hopefully it has been maintained, but be careful for blowdowns or deadfall around corners. Eventually this will take you to a gravel road. Take a left and you have a couple of miles to your car.
3. You can piece a couple different rides from the above two routes.