The topography of the commonwealth of Virginia ranges from coastal flatlands next to the Atlantic ocean to rolling foothills in the center, and finally the steep-sided Blue Ridge mountains on its western border. This diverse landscape provides a wealth of mountain biking opportunities, but as you’ll see below, many of the most highly-rated mountain bike trails in the state are located in–you guessed it–the mountains.
Angler’s Ridge is an expansive trail system located on the southern border of the state. With over 33 miles of singletrack loops varying in length and difficulty, this trail system really does offer something for everyone. However, don’t expect to find long climbs or descents here, as these trails are located in the piedmont section of the state.
“Do whatever it takes to drive out of your way to visit this trail. We did the Red Arrow loop which uses many of the trails just off the parking lot. They are exceptionally well maintained, new bridges, well marked and challenging enough to keep you engaged. The local info is clockwise is less challenging. You could take a new rider here but be patient. Some of the climbs are short but steep and there are a few fast drops.” -JerryC
Much of Fountainhead’s popularity is due to its close proximity to the DC metro area, but with flowing singletrack, entertaining bridges, and challenging features and roots, this is a quality ride regardless of its location.
“This trail is surprisingly tough. The roots are incessant and can, literally, become a pain in the rear. 29ers seem very popular here for good reason. The roots can really be a problem when they’re wet, which is any morning when there’s dew on them. There is some great, flowy singletrack interspersed with the troublesome roots, along with some tough drops into, and climbs out of the various drainages. If you want to challenge yourself in ways that are both fun and character building, this is a good place for it. The great thing about this area is that it’s just for bikes, so you needn’t worry about hikers. Also, all the loops are designated as one-way, so you don’t have to worry about coming around a blind corner into an oncoming biker. The loops are stacked, so you have multiple options to bail out early.” -John Fisch
Douthat State Park offers an extensive singletrack trail system with over 40 miles of trails! Unlike the first two trails on the list, the last three are located in the mountains, and Douthat shows it with multiple 2,000+-foot climbs.
“There’s a nice variety of single track at Douthat. It’s physically challenging with steep, steep grades throughout the park, even on the trails marked as easy. Many of the trails interconnect, so it’s easy to make a loop that suits your experience level.
The park is more developed than I expected, several campgrounds, staffed visitor centers, a restaurant, etc.
There is a parking fee that varies depending on the day of the week… I paid $4.00 on a Friday. It’s well worth it though, very scenic and wild once you get away from the camping areas.” -John Robertson
The Southern Traverse does have some nice, flowy portions like the one pictured–but other parts of the trail turn into rock-infested gardens and extremely challenging singletrack. At about 32 miles in length, this is a challenging ride by any measure!
“Rode this trail yesterday. Forest road climb is one of the longest continuous climbs I’ve ever done – great warm up. And after I’ve reached a trailhead, there was one more even steeper climb on singletrack. Downhills are straight and simple. The only thing that kept my attention was chunky portions with rocks, covered by leaves. Also met a black bear on the top. The trail by its remoteness reminds me (of) Maah Daah Hey trail. And it’s simple but something makes me to want to ride it again. There’re two options: ride it out-and-back or park your car along Route 629 and then ride a trail one way and return to car on pavement.” -stumpyfsr
Carvin’s Cove is considered by many to be the premiere trail system in Roanoke, if not all of Virginia. Having ridden here myself, I can personally confirm that this network lives up to all the claims of epicness! With singletrack ranging from flat to steep and from gnarly to flowy, almost every rider comes away from these trails with a grin on their face. Personally, I recommend the long, fast descents off the top of the mountain.
“Carvin’s Cove is a real nice biking park with 30+ miles of singletrack ranging from real easy to some double black diamonds. They recently made a new trail called Four Gorges Extension, it has some real fun banked corners and rolling bumps. I also recently saw a black bear on Songbird and some sort of snake about two feet long on Schoolhouse. The trails there are really fun and well built. Carvin’s Cove is the best in the greater Roanoke Area.” -mtberik
Your Turn: Have a great trail that you’d highly recommend everyone else check out? Share a photo of it with us using the #five2ride hashtag on Instagram!
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