Skidmore Fork

Proposed Wilderness

Skidmore Fork is an outstanding wild area with old growth forest and many rare species. This proposal encompasses the major portion of the Skidmore Fork drainage, at the bottom of which lies Switzer Reservoir, a principal water source for the City of Harrisonburg. Wilderness designation would assure that this municipal water supply would be constant and pure.

Where:  Rockingham County in North River Ranger District of George Washington National Forest just south of Rt. 33.

Size:  5,228 acres

The area is bounded by Dunkle Hollow Road, Shenandoah Mountain Trail, and the old Railroad Hollow Trail, which could be reopened to form a useful connector trail for hikers, bikers, and hunters. No access roads would be closed or otherwise affected by this proposal. 

Switzer Reservoir and private land extending from some distance above it along Skidmore Fork and on the crest of Shenandoah Mountain are outside the proposed Wilderness boundary, as is the wildlife clearing at the end of FR 1197.
Skidmore Lake downstream from the proposed Wilderness
Economic Effects
The proposed Wilderness area is not being managed for timber now; Wilderness designation will not result in any loss of jobs or of revenue or taxes for Rockingham County. 
Phoebe by Diane Lepkowski

Red Breasted Nuthatch by David Wendelken

Cascading Skidmore Fork
Notable Characteristics:
  • 1,400-acre patch of old growth in the headwaters of Skidmore Fork
  • The Virginia Division of Natural Heritage has identified ten rare species of flora or fauna within the area
  • Shenandoah Mountain Trail – a ridgeline trail that extends from Rt. 33 to Rt. 250. This trail is part of the new shared-use Great Eastern Trail that is planned to extend from New York to Florida and would lie just outside the Wilderness boundary
  • Elevations range from approximately 2,400 to 4,300 at Flagpole Knob
  • The restored, historic High Knob Fire Tower offers superb views of the area
  • Around 250 bird species, including warblers, neotropical migratory songbirds, and birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles, and peregrine falcons
  • Discover Our Wild Side, a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries guidebook recommends two areas at least partially in or near the Skidmore Fork area: Switzer Lake area and  Flagpole Knob
  • Includes a portion of the Shenandoah Mountain Crest – Cow Knob Salamander Conservation Area, a 43,000 acre area above 3,000 ft in elevation, that is home to a variety of rare species and unique natural communities, including at least 15 species of plants and at least 13 species of animals and their habitats  
  • Two Virginia Division of Natural Heritage Conservation sites within or close to Skidmore Fork:   Bother Knob- High Knob – 1,618 acres, and Skidmore – 2,313 acres
  Cow Knob Salamander