Two Other Ways to Ride Schloss
May flowers are on their way, but right now we have a heaping of wet trails.
Avoiding the road bike, but searching for something fun to ride? Rocks and Ridges are the answer. Gravity, having its usual way with water, saturates our nearby stream valleys and low lying trails, but only stays on ridges briefly before heading downhill. Over time, water running off of these ridges carries dirt downhill, leaving a bumper crop of rocks and rocks, being impermeable, are where to ride when it is muddy elsewhere.
Summer haze is still a ways off and this ride will reward you with a fantastic view of the Shenandoah Valley. Before heading west, purchase a copy of National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated Map, #792, Massanutten and Great North Mountain. Trails Illustrated maps, launched a few years ago, are easy to read, indestructible and from what I have seen accurate and updated frequently—the newer version even has more color.
Secure a spot at the Wolf Gap campground if you want to spend the night and ride through the campground towards the trailhead. The trail starts as mix of loose, rocky, doubletrack and fire road. The climb is straight uphill, no fun at all, and the lowlight of the ride, unless you enjoy drooling on yourself as you struggle up hill.
Get to the top and you are rewarded with ridge singletrack on Mill Mountain Trail and lots of rocks that don’t move and don’t hold water. The trail transitions back and forth through rock gardens, boulder fields, and the occasional smooth grassy patch so you can look up. Enjoy the views off of North Mountain as you head north towards Big Schloss. The only trail intersection you will cross is the spur trail up to Big Schloss. Make your way up to the top of Big Schloss and find yourself enjoying one of the best views of the valley.
After getting lots of pictures, head back to the ridge and continue north until the next trail intersection and head east on Trail 415, Big Schloss Cut-Off, which is a fun singletrack downhill, yes, it continues the rock theme, putting you back on Fire Road 92/Little Stoney Rd. Make a right and you headed back to your car, make a left and you can tack on Little Schloss or head back to the car, pass the car and hit up Tibet Knob.
Leave the cyclocomputer at home, the slow pace of rock creeping will only depress you. Give yourself a few hours to do the ride. Plan on a couple of hours for this one.
Want the view and want more time on the bike? Ride out the fireroad at the base of the pavement climb to Little Stoney, climb up Little Stoney, which is rocky and wet. Then head South on Mill Mountain Trail. You’ll pass by the Schloss cut off trail on your way to Big Schloss. After checking out the view, head back down the cut-off trail.