Posts Tagged ‘Berkeley Springs’

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Twisting and turning through the West Virginia panhandle counties of Jefferson, Berkley and Morgan the Washington Heritage Trail is a lot of fun on a motorcycle.  Riding through an area that George Washington surveyed, fought for during the French and Indian war and represented as part of the Virginia House of Burgesses was very interesting. 

Leaving the house about 9AM we decided to stop for breakfast at McDonalds in Bunswick, MD.  The McDonalds is just off a roundabout and, as you know, traffic coming into the roundabout must yield to traffic in the circle.  Well as most of us in this part of the world knows, traffic rules do not apply to operators of Maryland automobiles.  A gray haired lady nearly took us out by not yielding the right of way.  Luckily, being aware of the fact that the rules of the road do not pertain to Maryland drivers, I was paying close attention and was able to turn tight against the inner curb allowing for a near miss. This was not our only run in with a Maryland driver that day. 

 After breakfast we headed out and, after crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah,w3 were quickly riding our motorcycle on the Washington Heritage Trail. There are a lot of places to stop and take in the history and culture of life in the West Virginia panhandle but for us this day was about riding the motorcycle.   

Riding our Daytona Blue Harley Davidson through the towns of Harpers Ferry, Shepardstown and Martinsburg was a ride through the rolling hills and country roads of the Shenandoah Valley.  Bucolic county side, cattle in the fields and sadly decaying main streets made for a visually stunning ride.  

It was in Martinsburg that our second run in with a Maryland driver occurred.  Sitting at a traffic light, the first in line, we waited for the light to turn green.  At the green I released the clutch and started through the three way intersection when the pickup truck waiting across the pavement decided that left hand turns had the right of way.  Not this was not a close as the incident at the traffic circle but having a pickup pull up short when they realize they are in the wrong is not a fun moment.  The truck was no less than half way into our lane.  The young girl at the wheel thought it was very funny and was laughing as I shoot her my strongest “dirty look”…..it must not have work. sigh 

w1 (2)Our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail started into the Appalachian Mountains shortly after passing through Martinsburg on WV Route 9.  Steep accents and deep valley roads brought us to the little town of Berkeley Springs.  This town was once the regions greatest tourist destination due to its famous springs and “baths”.  Lots of little shops dot this downtown and you can spend an entire day just wondering around town.  But, as I mentioned earlier, we were about motorcycle touring today, hanging a left we headed out of town on Valley Road. 

It was not long before we turned east off of Valley Road and onto Big Oak Tree/Shanghai Road.  This would be a great road for motorcycle riding or touring if it were in better condition.  I am only guessing but, I would think that the elevation from Valley Road to the top of the mountain had to be over 1000 feet.  Some of the 160 degree (or more) switch backs had you gain or lose dozens of feet of elevation in a single turn.  Sadly the road is poor shape, the patching of patches on top of other patches to the tarmac make for a rough and tumble ride.  It is worth it in my opinion but take it under advisement.   

Coming down the other side of that mountain leads you into the town of Shanghai,WP_20170904_12_58_57_Pro WV.  A four way stop intersection and a blink and you have rolled past.  Climbing and deciding another mountain and we were back into the Shenandoah and heading towards the 136 mile marker and the end of the Washington Heritage Trail. 

 All in all, our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail took about 3 hours.  If one were to stop and enjoy the towns, parks and points of interests this ride could take all day, there is that much stuff to check out.   

The Washington Heritage Trail is just one of the many roads comprising the amazing American Byways. If you have not checked out the website please do, you just might find an amazing road in your area.

Well, Paw Paw, West Virginia was not the intended destination, in fact, we just went out to ride.

We pulled out about ten in the morning (on the Ultra Limited) and head west on Route 7.  I noticed the exit for Virginia State Route 9 and decided, what the heck let’s see where Route 9 goes.  We knew it went north to Martinsburg, WV but that was about it.

Route 9 in Virginia is also known as Charles Town Pike and passes through rolling farmland and the towns of Paeonian Springs (which has a historic district) and Hillsboro.  Hillsboro sets in the middle of a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A short climb out of Hillsboro and you have a great view of Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

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RT 9 at WV/VA boarder

At this point VA Route 9 becomes WV Route 9 and also becomes a four line highway. While we did not take the road, by the looks of the area I can image that “old 9” down the mountain would be full of twistiness!  Crossing the Shenandoah River we scooted through Charles Town and Martinsburg, we did not stop to look around, today was just about riding. A little after Martinsburg the road becomes a 2 lane again.

When we reached Berkeley Springs we did stop.  Right in the middle of the town is the Berkeley Springs State Park. The town (its real name is Bath) was considered the country’s first spa and resort area because of the mineral spring producing 2,000 gallons a minute.  George Washington even visited the springs. Heck the town even has a castle!

Continuing on Route 9, up the mountain out of Berkeley Springs we summited to a spectacular view of the Potomac River in the valley below. We decided to have lunch across the street from the fabulous view at Panorama at the Peak restaurant. This is a farm to table, organic, restaurant and the food was awesome!

Back on the bike we rode down the mountain and into the Cacapon River Valley.  This stretch of road from Berkeley Springs to Paw Paw was very lightly traveled, I doubt that we passed a dozen cars.  It undulates along the Cacapon River and was just a very nice ride!

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Riding in the Cacapon River valley

We reached the end of WV 9 when we hit Paw Paw.  It is a very small town at the intersection of WV 9 and 29 and was the point where we began our return trip.  We did not retrace our route instead we zigged and zagged through a variety of roads until we reached Route 7 at Winchester, VA.  After stopping at the Winchester Sonic restaurant for ice cream (I love there coconut milkshakes) we quickly made it back home.

We put in 198 miles on this trip with only a few stops….it was a great day with the wife and the bike!