When we were looking for bike paths in Virginia, Front Royal appeared on our radar. We knew this as a community of the Appalachian Trail because we stayed there during our 2020 hike, but we didn’t expect it to be a place to cycle. Who knew?
We had found an approximate map Online, but we weren’t very lucky when we asked the locals for directions until we stopped at the City Center Visitor Center along Main Street. They had a copy of the card that we could take with us.
Front Royal is a city of hiking trails, but not only because of the AT. Boating and rafting are also important here, thanks to the Shenandoah River. Two outfitters offer bike rental, bicycle and Mountain Trail Outfitters downtown has a lot of equipment and guides to help backpackers come to the AT to keep the hikers happy one day on their way to Shenandoah national Park.
As we drove along US 522 toward Mountain Home B&B, Our House for the evening, we noticed people walking and cycling along a paved path that turned right off Main Street. It was not connected to the OT, but we thought it was probably part of the elusive green path we were looking for. The day slipped into the evening too fast. We had to save the ride until morning.
After breakfast we drove to Eastham Park along the Shenandoah River so I could take the Greenway. According to the map, it was a little less than a 5-mile loop around the city. I started clockwise, but couldn’t find any signs indicating where the Greenway runs along Luray Avenue, and there was no paved path in that direction. So I turned around and followed the paved path along the Shenandoah River.
While offering a view of the Shenandoah River, he also passed a playground and several dog parks, each of which had large areas fenced off with signs to separate larger and smaller dogs. In the middle of one of the speakers, I noticed a red fire hydrant. He made me ask. Is it Real, or just an object that visitors dogs can enjoy?
The path went through a tunnel under an active railway bridge before it began a climb out of the river valley. It was a long and windy path that led to several interpretive sites and an outdoor classroom, as well as a fenced-in entrance to a cave. I found myself near the entrance of the local High school. There was nothing to direct my way, except the asphalt road that arrived at a traffic light and ended. At the traffic lights, there was no sign telling me if I should turn left or right or if I was still on my way.
Luckily I had a copy of the card with me. Without that I would have turned around here and went back to the Park. After crossing Skyline Vista Drive, a two-lane road, I followed a sidewalk along the busier four-lane US 340 on a hill to a historical Marker honoring William E. Carson, the man who was the driving force behind the creation of Shenandoah National Park and the Virginia State Park System. I walked across the entrance to Skyline Drive, which runs along the crest along Shenandoah National Park. We had driven it a few years ago to enjoy the autumn colors, so we planned to take a different Route to the south on this trip.
At the next intersection, opposite a convenience store, I followed the signs on the map and crossed the four lanes of US 340 in Criser Road with the pedestrian crossing lights. I stepped onto another steep hill and shared the narrow sidewalk with two comrades mowing the grass. Both stopped politely to let me pass. It was very pleasant. If you ever want to mow and pass a pedestrian or cyclist, please turn off the mower or remove the front of the blade from the direction of your movement.
Across the street to another sidewalk, this time in front of an elementary school, I passed the Samuels Public Library. After crossing another side street, the path continued along the sidewalk toward Happy Creek. I was able to enter Burrell Brooks Park and follow a path through the woods.
As I approached the Creek, I could see signs “road closed”. Kristen and John at River and Peak Outfitters had warned me that the bridge was closed, but that the path turned just before closing so I could continue the loop. They were correct. The Royal Shenandoah Greenway jumped on a narrow path where I rode a few feet alongside the road workers. He made a hard left and drove me along a paved path parallel to Happy Creek.
Around the corner I was greeted by a sign and a monument in the Form of an old fireplace and fireplaces. It was a monument to the people who lost their farms, homes and Land in the formation of Shenandoah national Park. I remember interpretative information about the loss of these farms in the Park, but it is the only monument of its kind I have ever seen. It was nice to see that it was sponsored by members of the local community.
As the trail continued along Happy Creek, I left the natural environment along a shopping mall and came across a busy road. When I read the map badly, I turned left along the busy street on a narrow sidewalk that led through the entrances of the shopping center and other businesses. Thinking that it didn’t seem suitable for a green lane, I went back and found out where I had missed the pedestrian crossing. Back on the way I drove a short distance along the creek, including a very narrow bridge.
After crossing Stonewall Drive, I arrived on Main Street. Under the greenway Shield, there was an arrow pointing to the direction I was coming from. I checked the card again. Of course, they needed an arrow here to direct me to Main Street.
As I knew the rest of the ride would be through downtown and on a road or sidewalk back to Eastham Park, I arrived at Sandy. We decided to meet at Down Home Comfort Bakery on Main Street, as this was our next stop. After a selfie with a five-foot-tall Pillsbury Doughboy, I was waiting for him inside.
No more questions to turn right or left. The only decision I had to make was which of the delicious pastries I had to celebrate the end of my journey– and my birthday.