A.T. Relocation Proposal: Bear Den Mountain

Tractor Seats on Bear Den Mountain

PATC proposes to relocate the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) between McCormick Gap and Beagle Gap across the summit of Bear Den Mountain northeast of Waynesboro, Virginia.

This section lies on federal land managed by the NPS Appalachian Trail Park Office adjacent to the South District of Shenandoah National Park north of the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station to the Skyline Drive.

This proposal is currently under consideration. It has not been formally submitted to the ATC.

The details concerning this proposed relocation are summarized below:

State or Commonwealth Virginia
County or Parish Albemarle & Augusta counties
ANST Map Segment 445
Tract Numbers (Fee) 445-08, 445-13, 445-15, 445-16, 445-18, 445-30
PATC Map Map Nr. 11 (Appalachian Trail and other trails in Shenandoah National Park South District)
Major Geographic Feature Bear Den Mountain
Nearest ANST Trailheads North—Beagle Gap
South—McCormick Gap
Distance of Affected Area to nearest Trailheads 0.0 mile
Length of Proposed Relocation 1.8m (approximate)
Length of current ANST section 1.8m (approximate)
Grade of current ANST section 1%–24% (approximate)
Grade of Proposed Relocation 2%–7%

 

Justification

South Face

The current route of the ANST rises steeply from McCormick Gap to the southern shoulder of Bear Den Mountain Water bars, check dams, and steps within the wooded area—where the grade is steepest (±24%)—are often overwhelmed and result in significant annual damage to the resource. Soil erosion exposes a consistently rocky approach, adding to the problem.

bearden-at-south

The relocation proposed for the southern face of Bear Den Mountain will use wide, sweeping turns to effectively use the natural topographical contours. This will eliminate excessive the resource damage currently experienced.

Summit

Across the summit, between the southern and northern sets of communication towers, the ANST was relocated off of the service road. This was possibly done to “avoid roads,” which is usually the best thing to do. In this case, however, the relocated route denies users an outstanding viewshed.

bearden-route

North Face

From the northern set of communication towers, the proposed relocation will take advantage of a well-maintained but seldom used service road right-of-way that descends to Beagle Gap on an average grade of 8 – 10%. Currently, the ANST descends on grades of up to 22% from the northern summit of the mountain to the Skyline Drive crossing in Beagle Gap.

bearden-at-north

Additionally, the proposed relocation on the northern face of Bear Den Mountain affords visitors truly outstanding views of the Virginia Piedmont to the east and of Calf Mountain to the northeast.

Impacts

Cultural Resources

None anticipated—The proposed relocation passes through no known or suspected area of former human habitation.

Shenandoah National Park

None anticipated—The proposed relocation route lies west of the 500-foot easement for Skyline Drive and is outside of Shenandoah National Park. The affected land is owned by the NPS Appalachian Trail Park Office.

Federal or State Regulatory Agencies

Minor—The proposed relocation may affect the ANST depiction on ANST Map Segment 445 (particularly tracts 445-08, 445-13, 445-15, 445-16, & 445-18). However, the project will not require notification in the Federal Register.

PATC

This relocation may cause the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club to make minor changes to update Appalachian Trail Guidebook #7 (Shenandoah National Park with Side Trails) and Map #11 (Appalachian Trail and other trails in Shenandoah National Park South District) when they are reissued.

Public

None—Hikers and backpackers will not be disturbed by the work conducted to achieve this proposed relocation of the ANST.

Additional Resources Required

PATC will accomplish this relocation with volunteer trail crews (Flying McLeods, Acme Treadway Company), members of the Southern Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville Chapters, and volunteers from the general public. All relocation crew participants will use PATC-supplied tools and be trained and led by recognized PATC volunteer trail crew leaders.

Shenandoah National Park

None anticipated.

ATC/ATPO

Resource use will be limited to the documentation and on-site review required.

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active