Narrowback Trail Connection
Rockingham/Augusta Counties Virginia
Narrrowback Mountain is one of the most popular places to ride in the GW National Forest. The Coalition has received a Recreational Trails Program grant through the Virginia DCR to construct three miles of new trail to connect the Narrowback Tower Trail with the newly constructed Wolf Ridge Parking lot. Funding will support the monetary match required for the grant.
The Narrowback Trail Connection Project is the Coalition's fourth Recreational Trails Program grant since 2007 (Officially awarded in November 2019). The project will build upon our past successes and continue transforming the North River District of the George Washington National Forest into an area known for accessible, safe, and fun trails for a wider range of visitors.
Primary goals for the project focus on providing more accessible beginner-intermediate trail opportunities. The surrounding area provides extensive opportunities for backcountry trail recreation but lacks trail opportunities for newer riders or those with less fitness or technical experience. In addition, this project will help add much needed short loop opportunities in an area that typically requires multi-hour rides in order to create a cohesive loop experience.
The specific purpose of the Tillman Trails Connectivity project is to realign a portion of an existing unsustainable trail (Narrowback # 432) to provide connectivity to existing parking, enhance the visitor experience and create a sustainable trail alignment while
reclaiming the old trail corridor.
Once relocated, the shared-use trail will further the connectivity to trails and expand parking options in the existing network by terminating with a trailhead at the Wolf Parking lot. This parking lot was built in 2015 and features the trailhead for the recently rehabilitated Wolf Ridge Trail, both projects were completed by the SVBC with funding from a previous DCR RTP grant. The connectivity created by the realignment of the Narrowback West trail will provide road free, all-trail loop opportunities from a conveniently located parking facility that is easily accessible from population centers and is already a popular destination for forest visitors.
The current alignment of this portion of the Narrowback Trail consistently exceeds grades of 15% and lacks adequate drainage features. At the base of the mountain, the trail crosses a series of small tributaries and wetlands without proper erosion control.
These factors have resulted in a deterioration of the trail condition and this portion of the trail has seen a significant drop in visitors in comparison to trails in the Tillman-Narrowback network. A sustainable trail alignment built on more moderate grades is needed to provide a more enjoyable visitor experience and to promote a diversity of trail users of all abilities and skill levels.
The project is located on the edge of the George Washington National Forest and serves as the nearest National Forest trail access from the surrounding population centers. The trailhead and parking area are located 17 miles or just under 30 minutes from the center of the Harrisonburg Metropolitan Statistical Area (a combination of the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County), which contains a population of 133,959. Additionally, two universities are within the city limits – James Madison University, with an enrollment of 21,227 students, and Eastern Mennonite University, with an enrollment of 1,870. Just outside the city,
Bridgewater College has an enrollment of 1,800 students, and Blue Ridge Community College has an enrollment of 7,315 students.
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