From MTB Project. There are other loops, routes and starting locations possible but this is a great loop and the directions are easy to follow.
This ride features great views of Shenandoah Valley at the top of Bird Knob, a 180-year-old big iron furnace, and Emerald Pond to cool off in the summer.
Need to Know
There are several creek crossings along this route, steep climbs and steep descents, great views and even better rocks to ride. As always, bring a map and compass, this is not a bike park!
From the parking lot on Rt 211, find the trailhead on the back north side of the lot.
Get ready to make the climb up Trail #416 - Rt 211 Connector following the orange blazes to an old fire road and stay to the right. Continue across Georges Run.
At the next fire road intersection, go left onto the Short Horse Mountain Trail following pink blazes for just under five miles. This trail starts out with a really fast pace descent then a good 1.5-mile climb then a more technical descent. A short climb later you should reach a purple-blazed, Catherine Furnace Trail.
From this point, you can either turn right up Big Mountain Trail to Trail #416 - Bird Knob Trail bypassing the fire road climb, or go left to a fast descent to Catherine Furnace (the way this map shows).
Once you reach the furnace, turn right and climb the road for about five miles. You'll see where Big Mountain Trail intersects the fire road. Trail #416 - Bird Knob Trail is on the left about 300 yards up the road.
About 100 yards after turning left, take the right turn onto the Emerald Pond Spur to Emerald Pond and take a well deserved break or swim if its warm enough.
After climbing up to the Trail #416 - Bird Knob Trail, get ready for a super-technical rocky ascent to the overlooks at the Yellow Cliffs. After the overlooks, Bird Knob turns into a vicious technical downhill back to the Trail #416 - Rt 211 Connector that leads down to the parking lot.
History & Background
Catherine Furnace was built in 1836.
Land Manager: USFS - George Washington & Jefferson National Forests