About this TrailThe old Browns Gap Turnpike crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah National Park south of Swift Run Gap (Hwy 33). The road on the west side of the park, called Madison Run Fire Road, is now gated and not open to public vehicular traffic. Because of its wide swath and easy terrain, it's a popular hike and is used as a bridle trail as well. On nice weekends there will likely be many hikers and riders using the trail, which makes for a nice social experience as well as a pleasant hike.
The road follows Madison Run, a medium sized creek, about halfway up the mountain and then continues to Skyline Drive at the top of the ridge. Along the way it intersects with the Austin Mountain and Furnace Mountain trails, both of which diverge to create longer loop hikes in conjunction with the Appalachian Trail at the top of the ridge. The road is about 5 miles long.
Birds and wildlife (deer, bear, etc.) are often seen along the road, especially in the quieter times of the years when there are fewer hikers about. Dogs should be leashed for their own protection.
Directions to Trailhead (or put-in on water trails)From Harrisonburg (west, I81): take Port Republic Road (SR 659) east all the way to its end at Browns Gap Road.
From Waynesboro (south, I64): take Hwy 340 north to SR659 and turn right; follow SR659 to its end
At the end of SR659, turn left onto Brown's Gap Rd. and follow it for about 1/2 mile to a parking area along Madison Run at the boundary of the Shenandoah National Park. Another road goes off to the left at a right angle at this point, but continue straight along Madison Run. Brown's Gap Rd. becomes Madison Run Fire Rd. at this point. Private property adjoins on either side of the road.
Notes on Difficulty RatingThe lower half of the road has only a slight incline and is a leisurely walk. The upper part becomes steeper and curves around several peaks, but is still a moderate hike. With a steady gait and an early start, the up and back hike can be done easily in a single morning.