Epic Rides - Mountain Biking and Road Cycling in Virginia
RICHMOND Va. - Virginia is a destination with endless opportunities for both mountain bikers and road cyclists. From the Alleghenies to the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley, Virginia is home to some of the best trails in the country for mountain biking action, and has been rated the best state in country to pedal off-road by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). Die-hard road cyclists will also find what they want in Virginia, with everything from roads filled with challenging climbs through mountainous terrain to moderate trails along calm coastal flatlands. Below are highlights of mountain biking trails and road cycling destinations in Virginia, with many more at http://www.virginia.org/outdoors.
Virginia Mountain Biking Trail: After a decade of exploring, preparing and linking sections of trail together, guides with Shenandoah Mountain Touring, with encouragement from the IMBA, have made Virginia's first permanent long distance backcountry trail a reality. The continuous off-road Virginia Mountain Biking Trail spans the length of Virginia's Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains from Strasburg to Damascus. It links eight major trail systems in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, consists of primarily singletrack trails, covering 480 miles and climbing 65,000 feet. Hard-core mountain bikers can be one of the first to tackle this new epic trail that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine recently said is "poised to be the South's sweetest stretch of singletrack."
Carvin's Cove: Located in the Roanoke Valley area, the Carvin's Cove Reservoir has an expansive network of single-track trails. Throughout the system's 30 miles, cyclists can try expert level screamers like the Gauntlet, which features a 1,500-foot single-track drop, while intermediates will enjoy the Funhouse. For a real workout, pedal the fire road known as the Thousand Foot Climb. Trail markings are scarce at Carvin's Cove, so stop by Just the Right Gear in Salem and grab a map of the trails system. The shop also rents bikes.
Sherando Lake: Set amidst the rugged terrain just south of Shenandoah National Park, Sherando Lake is a gorgeous wild escape. In 1936 a namesake recreation area surrounding the 25-acre spring-fed lake was opened to the public, and today its vast trail network in the George Washington National Forest is a favorite for mountain bikers. Close to 20 miles of singletrack surround the lake, including a 1,000-foot climb from the lake through Big Levels to the vast expanse of the Bald Mountain Overlook.
Douthat State Park: This 4,500-acre park is pure mountain splendor. Located in a remote pocket of the Allegheny Mountains, it features a pristine lake as its centerpiece. Fat tire enthusiasts come for the 40 miles of singletrack with challenges for all levels. Experts find favor with many of the long sustained climbs and payoff screaming descents, but there is plenty of variety for everyone to make this one of the best mountain biking destinations in Virginia.
The Southern Traverse: This amazing ride near Harrisonburg in the George Washington National Forest has been given venerable distinction as an International Mountain Biking Association Epic Ride. The 32-mile route has everything a mountain biker lives for -- twisty singletrack, smooth flowing descents, crunchy rock gardens, hearty climbs and stunning ridge views. The ride requires a strong set of lungs with 3,000 feet of climbing, but the reward is the best of Virginia wild, including a spectacular stretch on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail.
James River Park System Loop: Mountain biking in downtown Richmond? That might sound strange at first, but the trails in the James River Park System will make any skeptic a fast believer. The trail connects the Buttermilk, Belle Isle and North Bank Trails, offering riverside views next to urban cityscapes, twisty single-track and fun descents. Be sure to check out the new bike skills park at Belle Isle too.
Road Cycling Hot-Spots
U.S. Bicycle Route System: Virginia has 838 miles of the U. S. Bicycle Route system - more than any other state. Virginia sections of U.S. Bicycle Routes 76 and 1 cross the state from east to west and north to south.
Heart of Appalachia Route: See the best of southwestern Virginia by bike on this 125-mile route - the only state bicycle route in Virginia. Mountain scenery awaits on this ride that links roads and trails through Tazewell, Bland, Russell and Wise counties.
Skyline Drive: Tour Shenandoah National Park by bike via the 109-mile Skyline Drive, which runs through the park. Cyclists get views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the piedmont to the east. This is a great option for newer cyclists, as the park has lodges, restaurants campgrounds and supply stores easily accessible for riders.
Blue Ridge Parkway: The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway is a world-renowned scenic roadway that follows the Blue Ridge Mountains through Virginia and North Carolina. Mountaintop vistas, scenic overlooks and a leisurely pace with little vehicular traffic make this a favorite with cyclists.
Burke's Garden: Often called "God's Thumbprint," Burke's Garden is a mountain-ringed bowl, 10 miles in diameter, which boasts distinction as the highest valley in Virginia. Cyclists love to pedal around the Garden's scenic country roads, stopping to visit many highlights of the small rural community.
Northern Neck Heritage Trail Bicycling Route: Explore the coastal landscapes of the Northern Neck on this extensive bicycling route that passes fishing villages and historic sites. As part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, the route moves through the relaxed waterfront region from the town of Colonial Beach to Reedville, where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.
Go to www.Virginia.org\outdoors or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free copy of the 2013 Virginia is for Lovers travel guide. Stay connected with Virginia on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter at @VisitVirginia.
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