PATC’s 90th Anniversary Hike #6: Jarman Gap and Turk Mountain
Distance: 9.8 miles

Total ascents: 1500 feet
Getting there: From the capital area, take I-66 west and US 29 south to Ruckersville, VA. Go right (west) on route US 33 to the Swift Run Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park. Proceed south on Skyline Drive to Jarman Gap parking lot just past MP 96.
Fees: $25 per carload for a 7-day pass; 7-day pass for those who hike or bike in is $10; $50 annual pass

The Trail
0.0 From the southeast side of the parking lot follow Bucks Elbow Road away from Skyline Drive.
[Jarman Gap was originally named Wood’s Gap for Michael Woods, the first settler in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Albemarle County who established the 2,000 acre “Mountain Plains” estate in 1737. Wood’s Gap was the primary east-west transit path for crossing the Blue Ridge throughout the colonial era, eventually linking Richmond at the fall line of the James River to Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley. Thomas Jarman bought the land about 1800 and the gap underwent an eponymous name change.] 0.1 Go left at the intersection with the AT as Bucks Elbow Road continues straight to Bucks Elbow Mountain [On October 30, 1959, Piedmont Airlines Flight 349, a Douglas DC-3, crashed on Bucks Elbow Mountain, killing the crew of three and all but one of its twenty-four passengers. The sole survivor, Ernest P. "Phil" Bradley, was seriously injured and lay on the ground near the wreckage, still strapped in his seat].
0.3 Spring and camping area on the right as AT continues downhill to the left.
0.4 Go right on yellow-blazed South Fork Moormans River Road as the AT goes straight. To the left the road continues back to Jarman Gap. [Myron Avery, the first president of the PATC and indefatigable trail-blazer was advised by Dr. Halstead Hedges to follow the existing access road (now the Moorman River Road). Originally known as the “Three Notched Road” for its use of three hash marks to indicate the route, it traversed the Blue Ridge at Jarman Gap. Dr. Hedges was a physician in Albemarle County who had surveyed the area in the course of his travels to treat mountain families. He provided his trail notes to Avery for the initial scouting hike in 1930].
0.5 Cross the upper reaches of the South Fork of Moormans River.
1.3 Cross over a culvert for a tributary to Moormans River and shortly cross over again as the road extends along a raised berm on the east side of the river.
1.7 Cross a wet area with poor drainage and shortly cross the South Fork of Moormans River.
1.9 Cross Turk Branch as it drains into Moormans River and shortly go left at the intersection with the Turk Branch Trail as the South Fork Moormans River Road goes straight. [Avery and his hiking companion Myron Glaser went straight here blazing the original AT as the road continues to Charlottesville Reservoir where the trail follows the North Fork of Moormans River Trail to rejoin the current AT near Blackrock Gap 7 miles to the north].
2.3 Cross to the south side of Turk Branch and shortly cross back to the north side
4.2 Turn sharply right to parallel Skyline Drive which is visible ahead.
4.5 Reach Turk Gap parking area and the intersection with the AT which goes north straight ahead. Cross Skyline Drive to the AT trail access and turn left going south. [The Blackrock area is 7 miles to the north on the AT. Named for the black lichens that cover the rocks, it served as the hiding place for the Virginia archives and great seal during the occupation of Richmond by the British forces of General Cornwallis during the waning days of the Revolutionary War. Governor Thomas Jefferson had entrusted them to his good friend Bernis Brown, who owned thousands of acres just east of what is now known as Browns Gap.]
4.7 Go right at the intersection with the Turk Mountain trail heading downhill. For a shorter hike, continue straight on the AT to return to Jarman Gap from mile 6.7 below.
5.0 The summit of Turk Mountain looms above the tree canopy as the trail reaches a saddle area. 5.4 Trail becomes very rocky with broken fragments of the bedrock Erwin Formation many of which have longitudinal linear striations [The Erwin Formation is composed of quartzite that was once at the bottom of an inland sea that was uplifted by the Appalachian orogeny about 200 million years ago. The striations are caused by phoronid worms, a phylum of marine invertebrates with an elongated, unsegmented body that burrow in the sand or mud. They are called ichnofossils which is a trace fossil which leaves an impression attributed to activity of an animal or plant.]
5.6 Broken rock fragments form a sloping ridge to the right. Just ahead go sharply right to the top of the rock fall as a spur trail goes straight to an overlook south.
5.7 Reach the summit of Turk Mountain elevation 2981 feet for a view west across Shenandoah Valley and north to Crimora Lake. The trail meanders through the boulders at the summit for some exploration before returning to the AT.[The lake was a reservoir for the Crimora Manganese Mine, which operated intermittently in the nineteenth century after the 1856 discovery that manganese added to steel improved its strength. The lake was created in 1915 by damming the stream to provide water for an enhanced hydraulic mine operation to ramp up production during WWI. It was the largest manganese mine in the United States when strip mining was employed to meet demand in WWII. It was shut down shortly thereafter and the trees have reclaimed the barren hillside.]
6.7 Go right on AT to head south.
8.0 Cross Skyline Drive just north of Sawmill Run overlook.
8.3 View of Turk Mountain to the right
8.8 Reach the crest above Sawmill Ridge at 2463 feet and descend on a series of switchbacks.
9.7 Go right at the intersection with the South Fork of the Moormans River Road last encountered at mile 0.4 at the beginning of the hike.
9.8 Reach the Jarman Gap parking area and the completion of the circuit [Jarman Gap was originally the southern terminus of Skyline Drive and the southern boundary of Shenandoah National Park; the road was completed in 1939. President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law provisions for the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway to connect Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1933. The section of the parkway from Jarman Gap to Rockfish Gap was also opened in 1939; it was deeded to Shenandoah National Park in 1961.]

About this series. . .
Between 1927 and today, PATC’s founders and their successors built a 240-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, created the Tuscarora Trail, made dozens of cabins and shelters available to hikers, and took on maintenance responsibility for over 1000 miles of paths in the club’s 4-state service area. The hikes described in this series pass landmarks in PATC’s history and celebrate nine decades of remarkable evolution in our national trail network. Larry Broadwell and William Needham co-write the series, and Brian Goudreau provides maps.