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Goshen Pass/Jump Rock - Goshen, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.2 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

6.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,480 ft
Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve
Douthat State Park
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The parking for the trailhead is located on an unmarked gravel/dirt road approximately 1.6 miles upriver from the Virginia Wayside rest area on Route 39 West. 37.94853, -79.46023

For a great workout, a little bush-whacking and great views, head to Goshen Pass not far from Lexington, VA. The drive to the trailhead has some beautiful views as the Maury River cuts its way through the gorge. This area is proclaimed to be the loveliest spot in Virginia.

About halfway through this hike, a 150 yard bush-whack is required, in other words there is no discernible path as you head down to a saddle to catch the Jump Rock Trail up to Jump Rock. There are also quite a few places throughout the hike where the trail is over-grown, faint and poorly marked. You will have to pay attention on this hike but if you go, you will cross a swinging bridge, walk by a beautiful river, see some great vistas, and spectacular views of Lake Merriweather (GPS download highly recommended for this hike).

There is no camping at Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve but Douthat State Park nearby would make a great base camp to explore this area.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The short out and back to Jump Rock from the main loop is in a Virginia Wildlife Management Area which now requires a permit. The loop hike it self does not require a permit. Effective January 1, 2012, The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) requires an Access Permit for visitors to department-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and public fishing lakes for anyone age 17 and older, unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration. All hikers who are age 17 and older, unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration, will need an access permit to hike on any Wildlife Management Area.

The parking for the trailhead is located on an unmarked gravel/dirt road approximately 1.6 miles upriver from the Virginia Wayside rest area on Route 39 West. Keep your eye on the river on the right, looking for the Swinging Bridge. The road goes back about 200 yards to the parking area. The majority of trails will be white blazed, but not always easy to see. Hunting is allowed on this property and the adjoining Wildlife Mgmt Areas, so be careful and wear orange during hunting season. This is a very strenuous hike, 4 liters of water recommended. I had 3 and ran out with 1 mile to go.

The hike begins by crossing the swinging bridge over the Maury River and immediately taking a right off the steps onto the Goshen Pass Trai. Follow the river down-stream for an easy stroll for 0.8 miles. The trail is over-grown in some places. There are a few spots for good views of the river. At the intersection, take a left onto the Chambers Ridge Trail. You will now start to climb reaching a small waterfall on your right in 0.2 miles. This is a good place to soak a bandana and tie around your neck to keep cool if hiking in warm weather. The climb will continue steadily for 0.4 miles, finally reaching the ridge part of this trail. In 0.5 miles there is a small pond on the right (may dry up in the summer) and in another 0.3 miles you will reach the intersection of the Little Peak Trail.

Bear right onto the Little Peak Trail and be prepared for a few “breather” stops along the way as you climb 800’ in 0.6 miles, even requiring a little scrambling!! At the 0.5 mile mark there is small set of rocks just off the trail on the right giving you a first good view of Lake Merriweather (you will not see Lake Merriweather again until later in the hike). Continue 0.1 miles more for a larger set of rocks with views of the Goshen Pass and the Maury River Road to the west, a great place to stop for lunch. The Maury River is not visible at this vantage point.

HU Note: From this point on, the trail and markings get a little sketchy for a good bit of the rest of the hike; which is why we recommend downloading our GPS track for this hike. Without the GPS track the hike can be done if you have a good sense of direction and orienteering skills. Doing this hike with others is also highly recommended. Be alert and try to follow the path as best as possible. Look constantly down the path about 20-30’ to ensure you are still on it.

After taking in the views at the rocks, head back to the trail and take a right continuing to climb for about 0.6 miles. Where the trail takes a sharp right and heads down hill the markings and trail will end in just over 110 yards with one last white blaze. From this point, bush-whack East-North-East down into the saddle for about 150-160 yards and you should intersect Jump Rock Trail. Take a right onto the trail, heading east towards Jump Rock, over-grown in some places with intermittent yellow-blazes and finally reaching it in 0.6 miles. At Jump Rock there are great views of the Little North Mountain to the north, the Shenandoah Valley to the north-east, east, and south with the Blue Ridge Mtns clearly visible for miles. This is another great place for lunch or a rest.

Retrace your steps back down the same path (there is another path at the east end of Jump Rock, not sure where that goes) to the saddle for 0.5 miles where you will see some trees with yellow-blazes which we did not see coming down earlier. Follow these yellow blazes for 0.1 miles and you will intersect a trail, take a left onto the trail which we believe is the Tuscarora Trail, heading almost due north. In about 0.5 miles you will see a sign pointing you back to Jump Rock/Tuscarora Trail but we saw no other trails intersecting at this point (a sign from nowhere but it gave us confidence we were on the Tuscarora trail and not lost). The Tuscarora Trail is not well marked but you will see many trees with red markings on them which may be boundary markings between the Preserve and the WMA. 0.4 miles beyond that sign you will reach the intersection of the Viewing Rock Trail, bear left and in 150 yards you will reach a short spur trail to Viewing Rock. There are spectacular views of Lake Merriweather from Viewing Rock.

HU Note: There are no more views from this point back to the parking lot and you should make excellent time as it is either downhill or fairly level for the remaining 2.7 miles.

Continue downhill on the Viewing Rock Trail for 0.4 miles and at the next intersection bear hard left onto an un-named trail. There is a sign on the opposite side of this intersection that reads “To Camp PMI”. If you are reading that sign, ignore it and back up to the trail you came down and bear hard left. You will very quickly come to another trail/fire road, take a right towards Camp Bowman on the Round Knob Trail. In 0.7 miles you will cross a small creek and then reach a gravel road 0.1 miles after the creek. Take a left onto the gravel road for 0.5 miles passing Camp Bowman on your right, a sign to Anderson Trail on your left (ignore) and finally reaching a green Swinging Bridge sign, turn left here. You will reach the Swinging Bridge and parking lot in 0.8 miles.

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Hiker Reviews For The Goshen Pass/Jump Rock Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Goshen Pass/Jump Rock hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 27, 2017
Thanks for the original was very helpful as this is not the easiest trail to follow. I would like to update future hikers a bit with a few updates which might make it a bit easier for people to follow. As most of the reviewers have stated, it can be a challenge to follow as there are a lot of different colored blazes, signs and decision points. The hike took us 6 hours round trip including about an hour at the top and at a lunch spot. Spring time is a great time to complete this hike because you can still see through all the trees and have a view of Lake Merriwether and the surrounding mountains. We did this hike with our Rhodesian Ridgeback who had no problem with the hike. It is no fairly strenuous hike. We saw one deer and no other wildlife until we saw hawks from the top.

Following are a few notes to help stay on the trail to Jump Rock. The initial part of the hike starts along the Maury River going into Goshen pass from the Swinging Bridge. You make a left when you get to a sign marked "Chambers Ridge Trail". The single white blazes are easy to follow on this portion of the trail. Once you reach the top of the first ridge (Chambers Ridge) there is a nice level walk along the top of the ridge. You then descend a bit into a saddle between ridges and reach your first decision point....the trail splits left/right. There is a sign that has fallen off a tree there so you are not sure which way to go and there are white blazes on both trails. Take the trail to the right. You then start to climb quite a bit and eventually reach quite a barrier of large rock outcrops and the trail seems to disappear here. You can go straight over the rocks but for the less youthful there is an easier route just about ten or fifteen yards to the left so I suggest you bear left when you hit the steep rocks and you will see a much easier spot to go over the rocks and then hit the trail again. on the other side. You keep going up and pretty soon you will hit a set of big rocks where you can look over into the Shenandoah Valley for the first time on this hike. Someone has thoughtfully hung two gallon water bottles up in a white netting which can easily be lowered if you are out of water or forgot to bring any.This is a good spot to sit and eat. There is another one in about 20 minutes if you want to wait. From these rocks you leave to the left of them on a trail and follow it until it starts going down quite steeply to the right. you will see two or three white blazes and then there are none and the trail disappears. Do not despair. You can see a saddle between the ridges down bearing a bit to the left so just keep descending the direction you were going until you hit a trail which is coming in from the left. Follow this down to the saddle. There is a piece of debris from a previous structure in a small moss-covered clearing there to sit on and have lunch. At this point there is a sign saying you are 0.5 miles from Jump Rock. Follow the trail up to Jump is well-marked and you will know it when you have gotten to Jump Rock. You emerge from the trail on to some rocks overlooking the Shenandoah along Little North Mountain. It is a great place to sit and enjoy the view, look into the Valley below, have a lunch if you haven't already, watch the hawks flying beneath you and enjoying the peace and quiet. You backtrack 0.5 miles down to the spot where the small clearing is and then continue up the trail where you met it after bushwhacking for a hundred yards or so coming down the steep part to the saddle. Keep going along the trail across a steep slope as you cross over a rocky debris field. If you look down slope you will see other trails and blazes but do not try to reach those...stay up on slope crossing across it (there is a trail with blazes across a lot of rocks) and you will eventually start dropping onto a clear well-marked trail. This is a the Tuscarora Trail, but it is not marked as such until you make a left turn off of it. When you see a sign called "Viewing Rock Trail" pointing off to the left, take this trail to the left. It starts to drop steeply and in about 150 yards you will see a small trail and a sign pointing to the left where in about 20 yards you will get to the Viewing Rock with a great view of Lake Merriwether and the valley to the West. Walk back out to Viewing Rock Trail and then immediately you hit a sign that points you to Camp PMI. DO NOT ignore this sign. Take this trail towards Camp PMI. (Note that the primary notes say not to follow should definitely follow it, we believe it must have been in a different place previously). Keep going down (quite steeply) on this trail and you will hit an intersection with a sign pointing to the left saying "Hunter's Trail". Take a left here and soon you will hit an old logging road which goes down to the right on Round Knob Trail. From here it is easy sailing 2.7 miles back to the swinging bridge. Keep going on this and you will hit a small creek going through an old steel pipe under the trail and continue descending until you hit a gravel road. Take a left on the gravel road and you are now on the edge of Camp Bowman (on your right). You will see camp sites for the scouts in the woods. Keep going along the gravel road until you see Lake Merriwether in front of you a hundred yards ahead of you. We did not take the Anderson Trail sign on our left (and are not sure where this leads). We took a left soon after it before we hit the lake at a shooting range. There is a gravel/dirt road here that runs along the base of the mountain and eventually hooks up again with the trail (take a right on the trail) and it will take you back to the Swinging Bridge. We never saw any signs for the Swinging Bridge. Really enjoyed this hike but it was a bit stressful at times not knowing exactly where to go...hope this helps to make it easier for you.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 26, 2016
The description is pretty spot on and navigating was not difficult. There were several fallen trees and trail signs. The bushwack had us nervous ahead of time, but we stayed on the ENE heading when the white blazes ceased and located the trail to take us up to Jump Mountain, which was clearly marked, but overgrown. Coming back down Jump Mountain towards Viewing Rock was marked by white blazes, but not very packed down in places. Just past Viewing Rock, there was a sign that said “To Camp PMI,” which had us second guessing whether or not to continue down Viewing Rock Trail. We continued down Viewing Rock Trail and made it down to the intersection where we were took the "hard left onto an un-named trail," which was now marked as Hunters Trail. One last note - the green sign indicating the return to Swinging Bridge was not there or we missed it, so be alert.

Overall a moderately strenuous but beautiful hike on an early spring day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 18, 2015
It was a decent hike and like the previous reviewer, a bit difficult to find the trial at point. As with the current instructions, it get a bit difficult with the downed leaves after the outlook onto the maury. If you know the general direction, you can navigate it. I had to refer to my garmin a couple of times to make sure. Furthermore, the gap leading up to Jump Rock can be confusing. There were yellow markers that represented the boundary of the reserve. Coming back from Jump rock is probably the most difficult and there are several trials that branch off (you'll have to take a left to get to view rock).

We had a hard time following the instructions and locating the route referenced after the view rock. We took the route to Camp PMI. I saw on my gps that it does get you down to the road that leads to the campsite at the end, which connects to the trial that leads back to the bridge. When you take the route to Camp PMI, you'll see a close route that branches to the left after some switchbacks. Keep right on the trial until the trial T intersects another trial. At the T intersect, we took a left and you'll reach a 2nd T intersect. At the 2nd T intersect, we too a right and eventually meeting the gravel road. From, there you can roughly follow the instruction to get back.

By: Casual C Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 05, 2015
I've hiked a number of trails using this site, yet this is the only one I felt the need to write a review for. The warnings about poor markings and potentially difficult navigation should not be taken lightly. We completed this hike in early spring, with autumn leaves obscuring the trail in several places. In some sense, as moderately experienced hikers, it was fun for my friend and I to get lost and find our way. We finished the hike in under six hours, including lunch and the hour or so when we were lost. Aside from being poorly marked, this trail is well-rounded with views, water features, solitude, and moderate ascent. Words to the wise: This trail is poorly demarcated. We saw single/double white, single/double blue, and single/double/triple/quadruple yellow blazes along this trail. Single white blazes are the most consistent and frequent, but there were places where these blazes were faded and, as mentioned, missing. The sign pointing to the green swinging bridge mentioned towards the end of the hike in the description was not to be found. There area seemed to have been recently logged (and was possibly removed?). If you hike within view of the dam, backtrack a few hundred paces to a logging road that will lead you to the trail to the swinging bridge. Navigation-wise, it may be easier to hike this trail clockwise. Cheers.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 06, 2014
This was my second time on this hike, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time.  This is a great, fairly short hike to get a nice sweat going.  This time, we headed up and back on the Little Peak trail.  I would certainly recommend bringing plenty of water if it is a warm day out (2 adults and 2 labs went through a gallon of water before making our descent), as the trail becomes a pretty steep incline and the temperature will play a major factor in how difficult this hike is (the first time hiking this trail, temperatures were much milder and the overall hike difficulty was substantially less).  I would not recommend bringing the pup(s) on this hike unless they are used to this sort of activity.  The incline on this hike will be too much for an older/inexperienced dog.  But if you think your dog can handle the incline, the only true obstacle on Little Peak is a rock formation the trail runs right through (although there is no discernible "trail") that can require some minor use of your hands.  My two labs found some enjoyment in making it up, but their cautious mother was a bit more worried than I.  For a much safer (and smarter!) route for the dogs, walk left along the base of these rocks and you will find a much easier path up and can re-connect with the trail.  If you're looking for a hike that will give you a great workout, while only taking up about half of your day, this is a hike I would recommend.  In my two trips up to Jump Rock, I have seen very little wildlife (a snake and 2 white-tailed deer in all), but even fewer hikers.

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Early June
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