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The Heart of Appalachia Bike Route is 128 miles of roads and trails in Tazewell, Bland, Russell and Wise counties. The route takes cyclists through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in southwest Virginia, and it provides a variety of terrain and surfaces, including paved and gravel roads, rail-trails and single-track side trips.
Begin in Burkes Garden, a mountain-ringed bowl 10 miles in diameter that contains some of the most fertile farmland in the state. From there, follow the route along sparsely traveled roads in the Jefferson National Forest, across U.S. Bicycle Route 76 in Russell County, to the end at the Guest River Gorge Trail near Coeburn. Forty miles of side-trails provide access to spectacular natural features such as Russell Creek Falls and The Pinnacle at Big Cedar Falls.
This is Clinch River country. The Heart of Appalachia route offers vistas of mountain valleys and a river crossing on a swinging suspension bridge. Since the ride uses both paved and unpaved secondary roads, experienced riders say that knobby tires on a road bike or hybrid tires on a mountain bike are the way to go. Approach the Heart of Appalachia as a self-supported ride; there are few businesses along the way to provide supplies. Plan ahead, and stock up in the towns of Tazewell, Lebanon and St. Paul.
The Heart of Appalachia Bike Route is the only state bicycle route in Virginia. It was officially recognized by the General Assembly in 1999, when legislators allocated $50,000 to provide signage for the bike route and scenic drive in an effort to promote tourism and economic development.
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