In the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley, a world of off-road adventures awaits just off the main road. Just 90 miles from Washington, D.C., Shenandoah County offers a secluded spot for adventure without needing to travel too far. Head deep into the Lee Ranger District of George Washington National Forest, home to the largest OHV trail system in Virginia with plenty of room to explore new sights.
The Peters Mill Run and Taskers Gap OHV Trail System consists of over 36 miles of rugged trails that will keep any driver on their toes. As you traverse the terrain, discover scenic rock outcroppings, sweeping mountain views, and lush forested pathways.
Jendra Rambharos, president of Capital Off Road Enthusiasts based in D.C., tested the trail system for himself in early June. “I personally had never done the Taskers Gap section, so it was exciting exploring a new trail for me,” Rambharos said. “It has always been regarded as a very mild trail, essentially just a dirt road. When we arrived, however, we discovered a very interesting trail, complete with some fun mud puddles, mild rocky bits, and beautiful scenery.”
A mix of former forest roads and steep, narrow trails means drivers of all abilities can find a section to enjoy. Experienced drivers will especially love section 553 running through the middle of the system for its advanced and technical terrain. Whether you cruise in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, UTV, ATV, motorcycle, or electronic mountain bike, there is something for you. Keep an eye out for the “V” blazes marking motorized trails.
This is a three-season destination, open the first week of April to the first Monday of January. All trail users must purchase a permit for daily use at just five dollars per vehicle. For those who know they’ll be coming back again and again, an annual permit is just 30 dollars. Three parking areas—Edinburg Gap Parking, Taskers Gap, and Peters Mill Run North Trailhead—make it easy to access the trail system.
When you’re done on the trails, take advantage of all the amenities the area offers for the ultimate getaway. Bring your gear for your favorite activities, such as biking the rocky trails and rolling hills or hiking to rock scrambles and scenic overlooks. Get on the water with a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or fishing pole as you float miles of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. You can even experience the beautiful valley by air with a high-adrenaline rush skydive or a quiet trip through the valley in a hot air balloon.
Swing by the Edinburg Mill for up-to-date visitor information on the best spots to see around town and a multi-story museum detailing the area’s history. Beneath the mill, check out the restaurant, featuring a menu full of locally-sourced ingredients, and a wine shop. Other local favorites include Beans BBQ, open Wednesday-Saturday for the best barbecue around, Penelope’s Café Gallery for sandwiches and sweet pastries, or Sal’s Italian Bistro for oodles of noodles.
End your day at one of the many wineries or breweries in the area where you can get a taste of local craftsmanship. Rambharos chose to stop at Woodstock Brewhouse for dinner and a drink. “Fantastic food, ambiance, and drinks were a perfect way to end a long but enjoyable day,” he said.
When you’re ready to turn in for the night, Shenandoah County has a variety of accommodation styles, from tent camping and “glamping” to hotels, B&Bs, and rustic cabins. Little Fort Campground, located right at the Peters Mill Run North Trailhead, is a convenient spot to rest before another exciting day of trails.
Find your way back to the thrills of an off-road adventure in Shenandoah County, Va.
Partner Content written with contributions by Jendra Rambharos, Capital Off Road Enthusiasts
Photography by Andy Sams