Sunday, March 9, 2008

Motorcycle Camping in Brandywine, WV

I’m about ready to get out the forklift and pull the pop-up camper off the top shelf here at our warehouse so I can prep it for a new season of motorcycle camping. I’m not yet ready to take it on the road, but the ever-moderating temps have me thinking about long fireside evenings, poking at the fire, roasting a dog or two, and swapping tales with riding buddies.

One of my favorite cycle camps is a US Forest Service campground in eastern West Virginia at the Brandywine Recreation Area. While many private campgrounds have evolved into resort-like experiences (with the accompanying prices, I might add), Brandywine has just the right mix of facilities for a quiet weekend around the campfire with your family or a group of riding buddies. Brandywine is open to all vehicles, but generators are not allowed and sites have no power or water, so the big RVs go elsewhere.

The campground features about thirty shaded sites each with a picnic table, fire ring, and leveled spot for pitching a tent. That’s it. Oh, and yes, they also have hot showers. You’ll find those at a well-kept bathhouse near the entrance to the campground. Self-register at the entrance and pay a small fee ($13 USD per day).

Nearby family-operated restaurants offer hearty meals as an option to lugging along food. My favorite spot, The Cabin, is just down the road from the campground. If you stop by on Sunday after church lets out, expect to hang out on the front porch for a table. You’ll quickly strike up a conversation with folks who’ve come “over the mountain” from Harrisonburg or Franklin. A meal here is worth the wait.

If you plan to go on a popular camping weekend (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day), show up on Thursday rather than Friday for the best choice of sites. There is no bad site, but I prefer the ones along the dry riverbed near the back of the campground.

I last visited Brandywine with my son Carl. We camped for three days, mountain bikes in tow, planning to tackle some of the areas fine roads. Weather was perfect whereas our conditioning was found lacking. We didn’t do much bicycling, but we had a great time exploring the surrounding countryside and enjoying each other’s company. Those few days spent hiking, skipping rocks on the lake, star-gazing, and chatting around the fire were priceless. (Carl will forever remember Brandywine as the place where dad let him drive the car around the parking lot.) I think it’s about time we visited again.

Brandywine is situated along US 33 in the shadow of Shenandoah Mountain, thirty miles west of Harrisonburg, VA. For more infor-mation, call the Dry River Ranger District at 540-432-0187.

Riders take note: Routes around Brandywine, including US 33, will cause you to squeal with childish delight.

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