one of the most scenic and unforgettable routes in the Shenandoah Valley
area of Virginia is a mere 3-mile stretch through the Allegheny Mountains
called Goshen Pass. The Pass, located twelve miles northwest of Lexington
on rt. 39W, has been proclaimed to be "the loveliest spot in Virginia."
As you drive through the narrow passage carved out by the Maury River
with its steep rocky sides covered with a wide variety of trees, mosses
and ferns in their full splendor, it is easy to understand why.
stagecoaches that used the Pass in the 19th Century somehow seem more
appropriate in this natural peaceful setting than our group of motorcycles
rumbling through the gorge. As we rode along at a leisurely pace admiring
the picturesque views, we were overcome with the urge to stop and walk
through the cool clear mountain stream that ran along the roadside. Fortunately
for us, there is wayside stop located halfway through the drive, which
offers a picnic area and restrooms.
to take advantage of the stop, we all walked over the rocky bank and rested
on some of the larger rocks along the ravine. Several of us decided to
remove our boots and wade in the gently rippling water. The water wasn't
cold at all but we quickly found out that the rocks were extremely slippery
so use care if you decide to go wading. We joined children who seemed
to be splashing about everywhere. It was really nice to become a kid again
even if only for a short while. Unfortunately, we were quickly reminded
that this is a natural setting and as such we must share it with other
creatures of the forest, namely snakes. It only took me a few seconds
to reach the shore once I saw one of them swimming past. Luckily, the
water is very clear so dangers like snakes are very easy to see but you
do need to always keep a watchful eye out for potential problems.
This recreational spot is a favorite among the students from Lexington's
"Virginia Military Institute, the nation's oldest state-supported
military college." In fact, one of its professors, Matthew Fontaine
Maury, known as "the pathfinder of the seas", was so impressed
by the beauty of the area that one of his last requests in life was that
his body be carried through the pass when the Rhododendron were in bloom.
His wishes were carried out 1873 when Institute cadets formed an honor
guard and carried his body through Goshen Pass.
In addition to wading and swimming, fishing and hiking are also allowed
along the pass. The wayside park is open to the public daily until dark.
Even if you prefer just a leisurely ride through the pass, you will be
more than delighted with the spectacular views. For a wonderfully relaxing
day combined with gently winding roads, don't pass on Goshen Pass.