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Tags:
Level: Beginner
Length: 15 mi (24.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +370/314 ft
Total: 89 riders
 

Mountain Biking Lake James State Park

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#36 of 532 mountain bike trails in North Carolina
#561 in the world

The Lake James State Park trail network consists of roughly 15 miles of flowy beginner / intermediate singletrack trail. The Tindo Loops offer about 3.5 miles of smooth beginner trails with little elevation change. The intermediate Wimba loops provide more of a challenge with 10.4 miles of trail, plenty of rollers, and a bit more climbing.

The network is well-marked with signage throughout. There's not much in the way of technical riding here, but the trails are fast, flowy, and feature plenty of rollers. Theres more than enough elevation change on the intermediate Wimba Loops to get your heart pumping. Just watch your speed on some of those turns - the trail gets tight in places, and there aren't many berms to guide you through the tight corners. You can cruise right off the trail if you're not mindful.

The trails do close for bad weather. You can check the trail status on the Lake James State Park Website: http://www.ncparks.gov/lake-james-state-park

Before you go
  • No Drinking water 
  • No E-bikes permitted 
  • No Fat biking allowed in winter 
  • No Fee required 
  • No Lift service 
  • No Night riding allowed 
  • No Pump track 
  • Restrooms 
Getting there
Traveling east on I-40: From I-40, take the Nebo/Lake James exit (exit 90) and head north. After a half mile, turn right onto Harmony Grove Road, and follow it for 2 miles to a stoplight. Proceed straight across the intersection and past Nebo Elementary School to a stop sign. Turn right onto NC 126, and follow the signs to the park entrance 4.8 miles on the right.
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Lake James State Park Trail map

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Local Info

Trail checkins

eastwood (2 weeks ago)
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Fair (2 weeks ago)
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Rider questions

Q: How long of a ride is it? Time-wise?
A: About 2 hours.

Q: is there a place to rent bikes?
A: No, but you can rent from Overmountain Cycles in Morganton, less than 30 minutes away.

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Reviews

  • Superfly Lee
    ****

    Rode the 10 mile intermediate loop last weekend. Fun trail but a little lacking in features. Has potential to be really fun. Beautiful scenery and Lake James is great.

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  • kvegasdirtrider
    *****

    I really like this trail system. Have done it about 6 times. The beginner trail seems to always have me going around in circles but I guess I can't read signs. The main trail is built professionally and very easy to follow. It is two stacked loops. With the one way traffic, once you start the 2nd loop then you commit to riding the whole thing. As of 2018, very few roots. Smooth for the most part. Great flow. There are some good climbs but I can do all 15 miles without taking a break and my fitness is likely below average.
    My only gripe is that it's almost too smooth and redundant. Would be nice to have a few more memorable moments in there. Not a single log pyramid. Other than a few steep places really not a place than would challenge an intermediate rider. Cardio is the main challenge. It is still tons of fun.

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  • Daniel Lee Dault Jr.
    ****

    The first half of the west loop was epic tons of down hill including rollers for pump action and banked switchbacks too but the second half was all uphill with the uphills being quite steep

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  • Joel DH
    *****

    The west and east wimba loops are total blast! I really think a pump tracker designed this trail. It has a a high enough level of difficulty to require braking in some sections/corners. There are literally hundreds of water bars and rollers. It really is basically a 10 mile pump track. At least it seems that way to me. I utterly shredded this trail. Awesome fun.

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  • c0nspire
    *****

    This place is a blast! As others have said, the Wimba loops are a smooth, flowing, roller coaster! The West Wimba loop starts with a fairly steep hill, but isn't too bad overall. The beginner trail (Tindo) is short and there isn't much elevation gain but it's a little rootier and rockier than I'd expected. This is my new favorite place to ride!

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  • Bwhana
    *****

    Trails are very smooth and easy riding. This is not a very technical trail system, but makes for a nice overall ride with great scenery.

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  • EZ-E
    ****

    Meant to check in while out there...a little tacky after the heavy rains, but drains well.
    Great shape for the amount of rain they got and being closed for almost a week, a little more rain due on 10/10/2015. Should be perfect for the final weekends of 2015 riding season.
    Great flow...really fun and fast descents...watch a few of the turns at speed, you can air off the trail and/or run out of room quick. Alot of elevation change but not too many brutal climbs.
    Changing stall in the trailhead lot, great camping sites in the park, awesome views from the fishing pier (put a line in to relax after my ride), beautiful views up at Linville Gorge, and one of the finest lake swim beaches in NC(seasonal).

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  • Greg hill

    Most People I encounter are going in the wrong direction. Get with the program people.

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  • tom mayer
    *****

    I started my new favorite hobby here. Happy I tried it out with some friends one day. now I'm riding all over. But the Wimba loops are still a favorite that I will ride whenever my work brings me nearby them. Fun both ways love the directional change.

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  • goldslady
    *****

    OMG, I loved the East and West Wimba trails! I rate them a triple F for Fast, Fun, and Flowy. If you're looking for a fun ride, you won't be disappointed.

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  • oohoo
    ****

    The Wimba loops are super fast and flowy! You can really get hauling and hold pace relatively easily. Kinda reminds me of certain sections of warrior creek, but with even less climbing. All around a very fun trail.

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  • EZ-E
    ****

    I had a blast on these trails! The park is only about 10-15min from I-40, so certainly worth the stop if you're passing through - worth the drive for a daytrip ride...I combined a run to Kitsuma(30mi away) and Lake James and made for a great day of riding.
    Lake James State Park also offers camping area with hot/cold showers, real nice swimming beaches on the lake, a boat ramp, fishing, concessions(seasonal), picnic shelters, outdoor showers, and some awesome views around the park including the Linville Gorge etc.
    The trailhead parking area is well-planned and secure.
    Here's a link to the State Park site with Trail Status, Trail Map, and Park Map:
    http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/laja/directions.php

    As mentioned in previous reviews, the "Wimba" (Intermediate) loops are where it's at...great use of terrain to ride the contours so you're getting a pretty fast clip downhill without paying for it with brutal climbs later - also makes for very nice erosion control. The trail seems to dry pretty fast, so the 24hr rule after rain appears to be sufficient - however, the park rangers do post open/closed status on the park website.
    As mentioned, not overly technical, but there are plenty of whoops and jumps on the downhills to catch air. Speed can get away from you at a few sections where you may hit some jumps or run out of room quick until you get familiar with the trails.

    The beginner trail is just that...easy for newcomers and a good place to train up or warm up for the rest of the trail. Still a little lumpy from the machine cut as of 9/2014. If pressed for time, experienced riders should just focus on WIMBA side. Trail is well marked with round numbered trailblazes nailed to the trees - Beginner is Blue, Wimba West Orange, and Wimba East is Red.

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  • jff723
    ****

    West Wimba trail is fast and flowy. Not a lot of roots or rocks to get in the way. Rollercoaster like. Great work by the trail builders. No great views but the trail does wind by the lake. Beginner trail not as much fun. Directions somewhat confusing ended up at the wrong Rock Hill St. Trailhead is located in the Paddy's Creek area of the park.
    Recently rode East Wimba. It had been closed for awhile. East Wimba just as fast and flowy as West Wimba. Rollercoaster with some climbs nothing too challenging. They seem to close these trails frequently due to rain so when its open don't miss the opportunity to check out these trails.

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  • Philwhunt
    ****

    Definitely some good intermediate fun to be had here. I stick to the west wimba loop because it's pretty fast and has good flow through the woods. East wimba doesn't flow as well and isn't completely packed in some areas yet( more recently built?)
    Beginner loops are exactly that.
    I live 15minutes away and ride west wimba several times a week. Very fortunate to have a great set of well maintained trails in my backyard. Check'em out.

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  • man.cave
    ****

    I rode these trails yesterday and thought the builders did a great job on them. Not much in the way of crazy or technical, but they flowed well. It was a little wet but they are new trails and will need some time to season. I rode my Fat bike and felt the terrain was perfect for it. I have a feeling that these 2 trails are the start of something good at Lake James.

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  • Gronckle
    ****

    15 miles of brand new purpose built mtn bike singletrack at Lake James State Park in NC. These are well built trails with great flow. Two beginner loops totaling 4 miles and 11 miles of intermediate trails. Nothing very technical to be found here but the mileage and layout make for a great cruise through the beautiful lakeside forest, I was expecting the trails to be pretty flat, but there's a few hundred feet of elevation change - more than enough to get the blood pumping. This is a great place to introduce beginners to genuine singletrack riding, and the intermediate loops will keep the more experienced riders busy. An excellent trail system - I'll definitely be going back.

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