This is the penultimate boss: the next to last and a brutal (Full Presi) training hike before the Presidential Traverse. This loop runs about 27 mi with 8700 ft of elevation gain. After about 7 miles of mostly continuous uphill along a ridge, we reach the high point on Little Bald Knob where a few views are available, then plunge all the way down to North River at Camp Todd, then up a steep and consistent grade back up the other side to Bald Knob which sadly offers precious few views. From here, we dip back down again, coming eventually to FR96 around the 16 mi mark. Going up Hankey Mountain on the other side offers the steepest, most brutal climb of the loop, but there are some views of the terrain just covered when you stop to catch your breath. From there on, it is mostly downhill, with a few hope-crushing ascents. For those who like cold water, there are some beautiful swimming holes in the North River about 0.5 mi from the end of the hike.
The idea: Meet at 7pm Friday at the Centreville Park & Ride, group up, and head out to North River Campground which is only a few miles from the trail head. We will crash there for a few hours before driving a few miles down to the trail head to start the hike at 4:30. This nice dark start will ensure that we all have enough time to finish in the daylight. Once finished, we can head out to get a nice dinner on the way home, or those who wish may stay the night to recuperate and make more use of their car-camping gear.
Meet: Centreville Park & Ride
Campground: North River Campground
Dave put together a nice comparison of elevation changes on the Presidential traverse (and Half-Presi) compared with the Wild Oak Loop. This hike is very long and has a lot of up and down! Take it seriously!
Dave also put together a nice single-page turn-by-turn description of the route.
For the technophiles, here is a .gpx GPS file of the route (note: this is likely to be updated to a newer, and hopefully better version a week or so before the hike).
Here is another description of the loop, and a nice topographical view.
This hike is a real roller coaster in the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachians: a good, solid workout on the way to the 10,500' elevation gain Final Test (training hike #8) 2 weeks before the Presidential Traverse!
Here is a partial map and trail description.
Here are Driving Directions.
GPS Coordinates of the North River Campground are[masked], [masked]