The Wild Oak Trail 100 Mile


February 13-14, 2015

"Hot TWOT"
October, 2015(?)

Starting Time: 8 AM

Current Participants List

All-Time Finishers List


If you don't know about TWOT or Hot TWOT, please learn more about them before you consider participating. This is not your average trail race. The Wild Oak Trail is a rugged, beautiful 27 mile loop in the George Washington National Forest southwest of Harrisonburg.  Each loop of the trail has three brutal climbs to about 4,000 feet. While much of the trail surface is runnable, there are also rocky, difficult stretches that make smooth running very challenging.  There are no course markings for either TWOT or Hot TWOT.

NOTE: TWOT is not a VHTRC sponsored event. But Dennis is our buddy so we host this Web page for him.  The VHTRC does not deserve any credit for this event!

TWOT is run each year, weather permitting, on the second Saturday in February. "Hot TWOT" is held in the warmer weather of early October - it is scheduled for the second Saturday of that month each year.

If you want to run TWOT or Hot TWOT, please e-mail Dennis Herr. Remember this run is "semi-invitational." Requests to enter TWOT should be sent in after January 1, and if you want to get in to Hot TWOT, then your email should be sent after September 1.

From Dennis Herr:

[Updated for 2014]

Wild Oak Trail LogoWild Oak will have a similar format to prior years - still no fee and limited aid. It's a 100 miler again, but people can do 1, 2, 3 or all 4 loops. Each loop is "25 miles" (probably closer to 27 now). Runners absolutely need to be able to find their own way, because the course won't be marked.

TWOT and Hot TWOT are semi-invitational. I want people who have a low to zero (preferably zero) probability of getting lost. Bring a map, and bring the course narrative below. If this is your first time running the TWOT loop, you have two choices. 1) Run the first loop with someone who knows the course, and learn it. 2) Prepare to get lost at some point, because you will. The Wild Oak Trail is more defined and better marked than it used to be, but there are still places where it is tricky to follow if you haven't seen it before. The Wild Oak Trail is blazed white, so stay on the white trail at all times.

Those runners who think they are going to run 100 should plan to start at 8 AM on Friday. The direction for the 100 miler will be counter-clockwise, so we can better account for you. Aid on the course, if we are out there to provide any at all, will be very limited. See the course narrative below for instructions on water sources on the course.

Runners trying to run 100 should remember that only 17 runners have ever finished either the TWOT or Hot TWOT 100 over the course of the last 13 years. Runners who do finish the 100 will get a either a jar of Sue Herr's famous homemade apple sauce (while supplies last) or a jar of apple butter. What better race swag could you hope for, and what more incentive to finish could you want?

The runners who want to come out for one or two loops should plan to start at 8 AM on Saturday. The Saturday runners will receive aid at Camp Todd and at the FDR 96 road crossing on their first loop. After that, you are likely on your own.

I'm limited to 70 people. That's the number the Forest Service allows without a permit. Our main problem is going to be parking, so runners are encouraged to carpool if at all possible. The small lot at the trail head will fill quickly, but there is space on the side of the road near the trail head - see additional parking notes below.

E-Mail  E-mail Dennis Herr


I-81 to Exit 240 then Rte 257 West to Bridgewater. Left on Main St. (Rte 42). Right on Rte 727 (right after crossing bridge). Six miles on 727 to Sangerville. Left on Rte 730. Six miles on 730. Right on Rte 718. One mile on 718. Cross cement bridge, do a right-left dogleg onto FDR 95. 0.1 mile on 95 to trailhead parking lot on the right.

Parking: There is limited parking in the small lot right at the trail head, and then other parking back down FDR 95 at its junction with Tillman Road, roughly 100 yards from the parking lot entrance. Do NOT park in front of the entrance to the girl scout camp, which you will pass just before the road junction on your way in. And do NOT park in front of any gates! See Dennis for clarification if you arrive and have questions regarding the parking. PLEASE car pool if possible, as parking can be tight if we get too many vehicles!

View from Big Bald


Cantrell would call this entire trail a candyass trail. In fact, it's so easy my grandmother could do it and she's dead.

The entire trail is marked with white blazes painted on the trees and light gray plastic diamonds nailed to the trees and a few yellow diamonds. The turns are not marked. This narrative is for the clock-wise direction. It's your choice as to which direction you want to run. (How many courses give you that option?)

From the parking lot, go a quarter mile on the trail to a split and go left. You'll be returning on the right branch many hours later. Go another quarter mile, cross the road and pick up the trail on the other side and a few yards uphill. Go a half mile to the bridge. Follow the trail PAST the bridge and then switch back to the bridge. DO NOT CUT DOWN THE BANK DIRECTLY TO THE BRIDGE. The reason will be obvious when you see the bank. Cross the bridge. Turn right. Go 30 yards and turn left at the trail sign. Go approximately 3.5 miles to another split in the trail. You can go either way. (How many courses give you that option not once but twice per loop or 8x in 100 miles?) Go another quarter mile or so to the junction with the North River Campground Road coming in from the right. Go left. The next 2.5 miles is easy road running. Once the trail resumes, go about a mile to the Dowells Draft Trail/FDR96 sign at the top of a little hill. Turn right and descend (more or less) for a little more than 2 miles to FDR96. (The sign says 3 miles, but it's wrong.)

Cross the road and ascend for 1.5 miles on a gentle grade to the first of 2 old tank traps. Right after crossing the first tank trap, there is an obscure little trail going down the bank to the right to a little waterfall on the Mitchell Branch. This is one of 3 water sources on the trail. The other 2 are the 2 river crossings. Continue climbing on a steep grade for more than 0.5 miles to a pond. Skirt the pond on the right side and turn right. Continue climbing for more than 0.5 mile to the top of Big Bald. Descend for less than a mile to the junction with the Hiner Spring Trail coming in from the left. Go straight. Descend another 1.5 miles to Camp Todd. Cross the road. Cross the river and climb for 3 mile to the top of Little Bald. Make an ACUTE right turn at the trail signs. DO NOT GO STRAIGHT ON THE LITTLE BALD KNOB ROAD. Anstr has an excellent picture on the Web site illustrating this turn. (Here is another picture.) Descend (more or less) for 3 miles and turn right 30 yards BEFORE reaching the Grooms Ridge Trail/FDR101 sign. Descend (more or less) another 2 mile to the Little Skidmore Trail. Do a 10 yard left-right dogleg at the sign. Descend (more or less) another 2 miles to the parking lot.

The 34 mile loop goes like this: Follow the course narrative for the clockwise direction to Big Bald Knob. Descend off of Big Bald for 0.8 miles and turn left at the Wilderness sign (if it's there - it may be lying on the ground). Go 1.2 miles to the headwaters of Ramsey's Draft (no sign here). The trail comes to an indistinct "T" at this point. Turn right. Go 0.25 miles to the Hardscrabble Knob Trail branching off to the left. Go straight at this point. Go another mile to the junction with the Shenandoah Mt. Trail (another indistinct "T" and no sign). Turn right and go 3 miles to FDR 95 (dirt/gravel road). Turn right again and go 4.2 miles to Camp Todd (the sign is on your right). Turn left, cross the river, and you're now back on Wild Oak heading for Little Bald Knob.

Who is Invited

Since this is a semi-invitational, here are some guidelines to help you determine if you are "invited". Actually, most of the following determines who is not invited.

  1. If you are even the least bit worried or concerned about getting lost, don't come.
  2. If you have questions, don't come.
  3. If you need a crew, don't come.
  4. If you need toilet paper, don't come.
  5. If you expect to be pampered in any way shape or form, don't come.
  6. If you're a whiner, don't come.
  7. If you're a freeloader, don't come.
  8. If you're seeking fame and/or fortune, don't come.
  9. If you're thinking about writing a report about your experience at Wild Oak, don't come.
  10. If you crave abuse, if you yearn for abuse, if you are addicted to abuse in any way shape or form (be it physical, mental, sexual, verbal, mathematical, artistic or whatevah) BY ALL MEANS, BE MY GUEST. (This applies to abusees only. Abusers are not welcome. The only abuser allowed is the trail.)

Comment from Anstr:

This is not a race. Expect nothing that you would get at a race. Do expect, however, a fantastic, challenging trail. It will likely be very cold and there will probably be snow on the ground. The course will not be marked and if you have a crew, he or she can't see you very often at all. This is absolutely not for everyone, but for the right people this is a fantastic experience. This is not a VHTRC event. All the credit (and liability) goes to Dennis.

Wild Oak Trail Information and Prior Results

Group on the first hill
2001 Racers Take Break During Relentless Assault of First Hill