The mountainous terrain caters to mountain bikers here at Mount Rogers NRA. A wealth of trails is open to them. However, casual pedalers can enjoy bicycling on the two primary rail trails here, as well as more level, paved campground roads and a few other select locations. Here are some recommended loop pedals for mountain bikers followed by trips for casual bicyclists.
SANDY FLATS LOOP - 7.9 miles
Trails Used: Forest Road 90, Bushwacker Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, Feathercamp Ridge Trail, Sawmill Trail, Rush Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, Forest Road 90
This loop leaves Forest Road 90, climbs to the Bushwacker Trail on to Sandy Flats. From here take the Iron Mountain Trail west to the Feathercamp Ridge Trail and make a steep decline to the Sawmill Trail. Once on the Sawmill Trail, gain a few views before dropping down to Rush Creek. Climb away from Rush Creek on the Rush Trail to reach Forest Road 90. Then take this gravel road down to the point of origin. The numerous trail intersections will inspire you to make some loops of your own.
GROSSES MOUNTAIN LOOP - 10.7 miles
Trails Used: Straight Branch Trail, Forest Road 837, Shaw Gap Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, VA 600
This loop ascends the Straight Branch Trail to make an extended descent past Beartree Campground and down Forest Road 837 to the Shaw Gap Trail. Climb up to the crest of Grosses Mountain and pick up the Iron Mountain Trail to pedal some great singletrack before passing the Straight Branch trail shelter. Emerge onto VA 600 and make a lightning descent back to the Straight Branch Trail. There are no real long climbs.
RHODODENDRON GAP LOOP - 8.1 miles
Trails Used: Crest Trail, Rhododendron Gap Trail, Virginia Highlands Horse Trail
Head away from Scales on the Crest Trail and immediately gain views of the high country. Climb to Rhododendron Gap, passing numerous other paths. Descend a bit past Rhododendron Gap and intersect the Rhododendron Gap Trail. Turn left on the Rhododendron Gap Trail and head through some rocky sections through which you may have to walk your bike. The pedaling eases upon intersecting the wider Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. Take the VHHT down into Big Wilson Creek and more views before climbing back to Scales.
Rail Trail Bicycling
Bicycling rail trails at Mount Rogers is very popular, since two of Virginia’s finest rail trails run at least partly through the recreation area. Damascus and Galax have outfitters galore in case you need to rent a bike. Here are some recommended rides.
WHITETOP STATION TO DAMASCUS - DISTANCE 17 MILES
Get a shuttle to the top then enjoy this almost all downhill run on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The ride starts high and descends to Whitetop Laurel Creek, crossing numerous trestles along the way. Doable by almost anyone who can ride a bike, even kids.
GALAX TO NEW RIVER AND BACK - DISTANCE 24 MILES
This is a scenic section of the New River Trail that follows the old railroad bed of the Norfolk and Western Railroad. It starts out along intimate Chestnut Creek, passing through attractive woodlands, pasturelands and Chestnut Creek Falls. It then crosses the thousand-foot Fries Junction trestle and enters the much large New River Valley. Bike rentals are available in Galax.
DAMASCUS TO SOUTH HOLSTON LAKE AND BACK - DISTANCE 16 MILES
This section has a pastoral feel than the upper section of the Virginia Creeper Trail. From Damascus, the Creeper passes by many homes, where there are gates to cross. And there is plenty of scenery to enjoy, as the trail descends alongside Laurel Creek and the South Fork Holston River. A highlight of the trip is the long and high trestle that spans the confluence of the South and Middle forks of the Holston River.