Seclusion has a way of cleansing the soul – I’m sure a wiseman once preached this.  When he said it, he was talking about the mountains of Virginia. Tucked between the Interstate 81 corridor and the West Virginia border, you’ll find some of the most secluded areas on this side of the country.  Appalachia has a way of disconnecting you from reality, by placing you right into the thick of it. What’s “it”? In this case it’s the Jefferson National Forest, which borders the Washington National Forest for a combined 1.8 million acres and one of the largest areas of public land in the Eastern United States. In June, we decided to trek the Potts Mountain Jeep Trail, and as luck would have it our timing was right and the weather was perfect.

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The Potts Mountain Jeep Trail starts off relatively easy with a few ups and downs and minor bumps.  After fifteen minutes into the trail we found ourselves at the first obstacle, a 1/8th mile long S-shaped rock garden.  Ninety minutes later, after three winchings and two uses of the hi-lift jack, we finally got one of the 4Runners through.  As a reward the lead driver treated us to burgers and dogs at the next clearing.

The next section is less intensive, but still fun. There’s a downhill obstacle that requires spotting and tons of patience. If you have a decent lift, tires, armor, or preferably all three, you should give the obstacle a try.  It’s gnarly and rewarding once completed.

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After a few more tight stretches of trail and one driver trying to climb all of the hardcore obstacles with his 80 Series Land Cruiser we made it to another fun downhill section.  This area is wider and has more of a rock garden feel, but offers plenty of excitement.

It’s worth noting “The Valley”, as it’s called, is a bypass to a ridiculous obstacle that doesn’t even seem possible to conquer.  Starting with a leftward downslope, you finally reach the bottom after negotiating through several large boulders.  The climb back up the other side isn’t bad, as it slopes up to the right with a fun 2 foot tall ledge at the top. Only one of us needed winching at this spot, and from here the rest of the trail is a relative piece of cake.  A few whoops, some turns, and you’ll be at the trailhead in no time.

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At the end of the day the only serious matter to attend to was the topic of food. Our crew takes camp food seriously and on this evening Trail Mac, a delectable mix of Velveeta shells, cheddar cheese, diced hot dogs and chopped bacon, hit the spot.  It’s a meal that’ll satisfy your hunger and tuck you into bed all at once.  The perfect end to a great day on the trail.

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Roanoke and Salem make for great lunch spots once you return to civilization.  If you’re in the area, make sure you visit Mac and Bob’s for a wide variety of calzones and other fare.  Try the Boston Zone, you won’t regret it.

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