Past Sunday a couple of us made it out to the newly constructed, and on Friday officially opened, Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park (Byrom Park). If you follow our blog and local news you probably already heard of it. This 612 acre park lies on the foothills of Browns Gap near Shenandoah National Park.
Following some first CAT impressions:
The park features a couple of mostly shaded double-track trails with some significant elevation gain, my GPS showed 2615ft on our 7.5mi. We didn’t see much wildlife, besides some deer ticks or chiggers I took home and discovered later. Parking lot and restroom facilities are nice. There weren’t many overlooks but who needs that when doing hill repeats ;). Trails itself are fairly soft and have some rocks/roots here and there but nothing too technical really. So far I like the park for hill workouts. Due to short trails you can’t really cover much distance but the park is still in development, close the the SNP which gives hope for a connector trail.
This park is what I call a “climbing park.” If you want to get in some good vertical without having to drive south to the Priest, this is the place! As the trails get used and linked up into circuits, I can envision multi-loops that will provide perfect training for any mountain 100, Mountain Masochist, or Hellgate. It is a beautiful area and a lovely memorial, and I enjoyed knowing that generations of a family had grown up there and were happy to share it with the rest of us.
From the very start, Byrom Park lets you know that it is not kidding around. With a climb out of the parking lot on the red trail to warm up the hamstrings, we started with an out-and-back the white trail, which will eventually form a longer loop. I counted myself lucky to be joined by my “unusual friends” Sophie, Christian, Bob, and Chris on this inaugural run, as trail runners are the only people who would readily (and happily!) cover 7.5 miles with ~2500 ft climb in more than 2 hours.
Climbing Park indeed.
We headed over to the western park of the park, where the county has painted over the bear scratching post (read: trail marker at intersection of blue and red trails), for a double loop of the blue trail. Parts of the Blue Trail loop make the climbs of the dreaded “purple trail” on the Catherine’s Fatass Course look downright flat. I had to laugh as we faced what appeared to be a wall of jeep road on the trail, only to have to climb it to the “summit,” which was blocked off by a enormous fallen tree and brush. It was a thrill to run on the soft side-hill down the blue trail which I had the opportunity to work on several weeks ago, which dumps into a serious downhill (that runs like the backside of Terrapin).
Overall, the trails are still raw, soft, and cover an unbelievable amount of vertical over a short distance. It is the hardest I’ve worked for 7 miles in a long time, and what a place to get strong at climbing, and to top it off it is only a 30-35min drive from town.
Byrom is a fantastic park and I can’t wait to get back out there. Tough, beautiful, and rugged.
Good place to get some climbing in with >10% overall grade and much steeper sections. Hopefully it will connect to some SNP trails someday. Paved parking for maybe 20 cars plus there is horse trailer parking that I guess we could use if the lot fills. The trails will only get better with use.