NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

Goshen Pass, VA - Getting There is Half the Fun

By: Michelle Harper

Motorxcycle on mountain roadProbably 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.

Our groupThe 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.

Yeah, I fell in the waterDeciding 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.

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