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Open Year-round
Yes
Reservations possible?
No
RV Hookups
No
Potable water
No
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Braley Pond is a small recreation area in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest at the confluence of the Johnson Draft and Calfpasture River. It provides camping and picnicking for the surrounding forest and nearby Ramsey's Draft Wilderness, enabling great day hikes and mountain biking. The steep valley walls provide a deep sense of isolation and shield it from the noise of the occasional vehicle climbing the nearby U.S. Highway 250 on their way over Shenandoah Mountain.

Braley Pond has a well-maintained day-use picnic area, a stocked pond, and several trails that take off from the campground. There are five dispersed primitive campsites, two along the dirt access road before the picnic area and three along the turnaround area just past the picnic area. Camping is not allowed in the picnic area even though that is where the well-maintained vault toilet is located. There are no water or trash facilities at this free campground.

The Forest Service constructed Braley Pond in 1965 with a small earthen dam along the Johnson Draft. It is a 4.5-acre impoundment that is stocked with rainbow trout, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegills, making it a favorite fishing spot. A fun, easy trail rings the pond.

Several hiking and mountain biking trails take off from the campground, including the Johnson Draft and Bald Ridge trails and the nearby Dowells Trail. Dowells Trail is a mixed-use hiking and mountain biking trail. Bald Ridge is also mixed use up to the crest of Bald Ridge, which forms the southeast boundary of the Ramsey's Draft Wilderness. Mountain biking is only allowed to the top, but not along the top of Bald Ridge inside the wilderness. The best map of the area is National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map, Staunton Shenandoah Mountain, #791 that identifies the multi-use from the hiking trails.

Two nearby attractions are worth visiting. One of these is Ramsey's Draft Wilderness, whose southeast boundary can be reached by hiking from the campground. The main Ramsey's Draft trailhead (38.306976, -79.362587) can be reached by a short 6-mile drive up U.S. Highway 250. Ramsey's Draft Wilderness is small at 6,518 acres, but it has a pretty stream flowing between two steep mountain ridges with a small old-growth mix of hemlocks and hardwoods near the top of the valley. It is one of the few old-growth forests that still exist in Virginia. Unfortunately, like so many hemlocks in the mid-Atlantic, the hemlocks in the grove are under extreme stress from the wooly adelgid, an invasive pest that aggressively attacks hemlocks. Ramsey's Draft has extensive trails that provide great day hikes or short backpacks.

Just a few miles farther up the valley along U.S. Highway 250 at the gap in Shenandoah Mountain is the second attraction, the historic Confederate Breast Works. The Confederate Breast Works was an old Civil War fort that helped defend Staunton, Virginia, from the liberating Union Forces in the first Shenandoah Valley Campaign of the Civil War. All that remains of this historic site are the faint remains of the breastworks. The Forest Service has a series of signs along the steep half-mile interpretive trail that loops the defensive breastworks.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall

Congestion

Rarely full

Parking Pass

None

Price per night (basic site)

0.00 $ (0.00 €)

Pros

Nice, small, quiet campground. Access to mountain biking and hiking.

Cons

Some sites had a lot of trash left.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Managed by

George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Address

Unnamed Road
West Augusta, VA 24485
United States

Features

Vault toilet
Wildlife
Family friendly
Picnic tables
Near lake or river
Bird watching
Lakefront
Old-growth forest

Access

Vehicle

Total number of sites

5

Maximum trailer length

20.00 ft (6.10 m)

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Shenandoah Mountains + Valleys, Virginia

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