Blue Ridge Mountain singletrack at its finest. This out-n-back trail weaves its way upwards through shaded valleys and semi-steep hills. The trail is an equal mix of narrow singletrack and old fireroad doubletrack. The climb to the overlook is rewarded with a wicked downhill spin that brings you back to your starting point. The lower points of this trail are nearly always a little bit damp and tacky, but the trail is rideable nearly year-round because it drains so well into Bear Creek. There are several creek crossings and switchbacks to make things fun. Stop and take a picture at the Gannet Poplar, a very old and massive tree along the trail. Numerous trailheads are in the area, but the preferred route is to park on Gates Chapel Rd and ride up FS 90 to the small parking area where the singletrack starts.
From the parking area, ride up the gravel road, bearing left at the sign for the Bear Creek trail approx. 1 1/2 miles to the trailhead (there is a small parking area at the trailhead, but we always ride the gravel road as a warm-up). There are two trails here, but take the one beside the information kiosk. The other way is not meant for humans. After crossing a small, rocky creek, stay left at the sign for the Bear Creek Loop trail. After climbing two short whoops right beside the creek, follow the hard left switchback uphill (do NOT cross the logs and continue straight). Continue up the singletrack to the forest service gate. At the grassy clearing, continue to the LEFT, uphill on the doubletrack. After crossing through a wide but shallow creek, go left downhill to the gate and onto the gravel road. Turn right on the gravel road and continue up approx. 1/2 mile to the overlook. Enjoy the view! Continue to ride up the gravel road another couple hundred yards to the sign for the upper parking lot. Turn into the lot and follow the singletrack trail downhill. There are several hard switchbacks and the trail will dump you out back at the wide shallow creek. Continue the ride back downhill the same way you climbed up!