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Fall 2011 Biking Overnighter at New River Trail

The pack will be making it's second outing of the year on November 4 to 6. We will be traveling to New River Trail State Park in Virginia.  The focus of the trip will be a Saturday afternoon bike ride along the New River Trail, which is an official National Recreation Trail.

The trip is being planned so that the major activities - biking, picnic lunch and campfire - will occur between 11 am and 6 pm on Saturday, November 5. A one-page Trip Info Sheet is available.

Destination and Directions

  • New River Trail State Park (Virginia)
    • SR 623 at Orphanage Dr, VA 24360
    • GPS: 36.884277, -80.859277
    • Phone: (276) 699-6778
  • The park is a 2:45 hour drive from Chapel Hill.
  • The Foster Falls campground in New River Trail State Park (North) is located in Wythe County, Virginia, just off I-77; from I-77, take Exit 24, go east on Route 69 to Route 52, go north to Route 608, go east and follow signs.
  • Link to more info about New River Trail State Park:

Equipment & Supplies Needed 

  • Items for outing
    • usual car-camping gear - here is a list of recommended items 
    • bicycles and appropriate safety equipment; there are rental facilities within 30 miles, but details will be left to families
    • there will likely be a trailer with limited bike space available on a first-come basis
  • Each person must have:
    • plate, cup and utensils for eating (no paper goods or extras will be available on site)
    • daypack
    • reusable water bottle
  • Reminder: Pack’s meals can be supplemented with your favorites or to suit your needs.
  • As always, please ask any of the leaders if you need packing help or advice.


The trip is being planned so that the major activities - biking, picnic lunch and campfire - will occur between 11 am and 6 pm on Saturday, November 5. The highlight of the trip will be bike riding along the converted rail road on Saturday afternoon.

From Foster Falls (our camping area), you can bike north or south for nearly 25 miles each way (50 miles round trip)! I don't recommend this distance, but there are some great rides.

  • The pack will make an easy 3-mile round trip from Foster Falls to the Shot Tower and back.  Most families should be able to complete this ride.
    • slight uphill gradient on outbound; ponder the view from the three hundred and forty foot long bridge over Short's Creek (from the bridge you can see over 250 years of transportation history)
  • The riders will picnic on the grounds of the Shot Tower Historical State Park. Overlooking the New River, the Shot Tower was built more than 150 years ago to make ammunition for the firearms of the early settlers. Lead from the nearby Austinville Mines was melted in a kettle atop the 75-foot tower and poured through a sieve, falling through the tower and an additional 75-foot shaft beneath the tower into a kettle of water.
  • Dens with older scouts are considering longer rides.  For example, there are: 
    • a 5-mile (one-way) ride from Foster Falls to Lone Ash; slight downhill gradient outbound; a brief detour away from the trail offers views of the falls after which the town was named; from the falls to Bertha the trail is somewhat isolated as it winds along the bank of the river; near milepost twenty is the grave site of Revolutionary War veteran John Calfee, while just a little ways away is Bertha Cave, a natural wonder and bat cave 
    • a 3.6-mile (one-way) ride from the Shot Tower to Austinville; slight uphill outbound; trail runs close to the river along this section which is characterized by the limestone outcroppings along the water's edge; this section of trail features one of two tunnels

We're also planning alternative activities for those who don't want to bike ride (especially younger Scouts):

  • we've reserved the picnic shelter at Foster Falls
  • the converted railway is a great place for a nature hike
  • there is a playground nearby
  • there are old train cars to explore

In addition, we will continue to work as a pack and as dens on various Scouting achievements. In particular, our activities will emphasize the following: 

Finally, there are also plenty of historical sites of interest nearby.  In addition to the Shot Tower: 
  • At Foster Falls you can explore the historic area and see evidence of this mining town's rich and storied past, including many old restored buildings such as barns, sheds, mills, a store, and a former railroad depot that is now a gift shop. There is also a large stone pig iron furnace, which stands as a symbol of the important industry that used to dominate the area.

One important caveat is that we'll be camping after October 31, which puts us out of season.  Some of the buildings and shops will undoubtedly be closed (e.g., we won't be able to climb the Shot Tower) for our visit, but the grounds are accessible.


The pack activities are being planned for Saturday, so families may choose to spend one or two nights. There are three possibilities for family lodging.
  • Camping
    • We have reserved camping sites for both Friday and Saturday nights. Because camping space is limited for this "overnight" trip, we ask families to consider choosing either Friday or Saturday night.
    • The campsites are primitive: 
      • purified water nearby in large tank
      • non-flush toilet facilities
      • no showers available
      • no vehicular access to campsites
    • Each site is a 32' x 24' gravel pads with a picnic table, fire ring and lantern pole.
  • Motels or Cabins
    • The weather may be cold (average low: 30-35 F); families may choose to stay at one of several nearby commercial lodging facilities: 
    • Reservations and payment should be arranged by families choosing this option.
  • None of the above
    • Families may choose to drive up for the day on Saturday (NRTSP is 2:45 from Chapel Hill).
Arrival Info

See above for driving directions. Upon entering the park, there will be a contact booth. Tell the attendant that you are with the group with reservations at Foster Falls group campsites (site #13-21). There is normally a $2 parking charge per vehicle, but it should be waived for campers. The attendant will direct you to the parking lot.

The distance from the parking lot to our campsite is about 50 yards. There will be a large sign at the parking lot surrounded by several small carts or wagons. You may use these to transfer gear from your car to our campsite.


We will eat most of our meals together, with one or more dens organizing the cooking and another the clean-up.  The pack is bringing food for lunch and dinner on Saturday, and for breakfast on Sunday.

Don't hesitate to bring extra food for your family to supplement the pack's basic meal plan.

Each family will be responsible for their own snacks. The pack will provide a snack of trail mix for Saturday afternoon, but it would be a good idea to have some favorite packable goodies with you.


We will have campfires on Friday and Saturday nights.  On Saturday night, we will have a pack fire with songs and skits supplied by the dens.

LEAVE YOUR FIREWOOD AT HOME! A firewood quarantine has been established to prevent the spread of gypsy moths and introduction of harmful forest insects into un-infested forest areas. Firewood will be available at the campground for $4 per site per day (i.e., $36 for all of our sites).


The agenda is still taking shape. The den leaders, for example, are helping to plan meal preparation and clean-up, songs and skits, and den-specific activities. Here is a rough, tentative agenda: 

  • Friday (for those choosing to camp)
    • arrival and set up - before dark
    • camp gates are closed (but not locked) at 10 pm
  • Saturday
    • 10:30 AM - make and pack trail food
      • Bear achievement 9e
    • 10:30 AM - assemble picnic lunches
    • 11:00 AM - prepare for bike trip
      • bike safety rules and cub scout "safe ride"
        • tires inflated
        • brakes, gears, etc. working properly
        • Wolf achievement 9e
        • Bear achievement 14a
        • Bicycling Belt Loop
      • safety equipment
        • helmet
    • 12:00 PM - group trail ride - Foster Falls to Shot Tower
    • 12:45 PM - picnic lunch on Shot Tower grounds
    • 1:15 PM - return to Foster Falls
    • 2:00 PM - den-specific activities
      • e.g., more trail riding or other activity
    • 4:00 PM - prep dinner
      • Texas-style chili and fixins
      • Wolf achievement 8e
    • 5:00 PM - dinner and clean up
    • 5:45 PM - camp fire
      • songs and skits from dens
  • Sunday
    • 7:00 AM - prep breakfast
      • oatmeal, fruit and sausage
      • Bear achievement 9g
    • 8:00 AM - breakfast and clean up
    • 10:00 AM - departure for Chapel Hill

Bike ride on New River Trail

Family bike ride on New River Trail

New River is one of the world's oldest rivers

The Shot Tower in New River Trail State Park

New River Trail