This +-17.5 mile loop circles a large portion of the popular George Washington National Forest (Lee District). The loop comprises nice single track running through mountain laurel, easy double track hunting roads and tricky rock-studded climbs/descents. It is forested throughout but has occasional views to the valleys below, especially in winter and early spring. It is a popular area and is likely to be fairly busy on weekends. Many nice running loops are possible in the area and can be planned out using the great map from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Map F, Great North Mountain). Photos of the area, including part of the described loop can be viewed here.
Parking for this loop is where the Tuscarora Trail crosses Waites Run Road (County Route 5/1) near Wardensville, West Virginia. Parking coordinates: 39.0150,-78.6047. Much of the area is without cell tower coverage, so do not rely on live turn by turn instructions to find the starting point –consult a map before you go.
Directions to stay on the loop. Loop can be run in either direction but the following acts as a guide for those running the loop counter clockwise.
From parking lot turn right onto road then quick left onto blue blazed Tuscarora Trail
After a 3.8 mile climb with several creek crossings, continue on the Tuscarora Trail until around mile 7. Turn left and descend on the Old Mailpath Trail.
After another 1.3 miles turn right at 4 way intersection onto wide double track (unmarked Racer Camp Hollow Trail).
Around mile 11 right hand turn onto small single track (Vance’s Cove Trail) and then within 2 tenths of a mile bear left at unmarked split in trail
Go 1.1 miles then left from double track onto single track (white blazed Gerhardt Shelter Trail)
1 mile steep climb to ridge at Gerhardt Shelter then left onto Tuscarora Trail, which you will follow back to your car.