If you’re familiar at all with the section of the Appalachian Mountain Range that runs through the western half of Virginia, then you know how rocky it is. It’s these rocks that characterize much of the mountain biking you’ll find in the state.
From a cross-country biking perspective, Virginia offers some of the most challenging terrains you can find in the country. Its mountains may not have the sheer altitude of those out West, but the terrain is as rugged as it comes.
Such trails as the Masanutten Ring and the Southern Traverse are hardcore endurance trails, challenging you to navigate almost impassible rocky terrain for scores of miles. This is taking backwoods mountain biking to an extreme level.
While Virginia doesn’t offer as many flow trails as other states, its trails in the central and more urban eastern parts are great options for this style of riding. Parks such as Angler’s Ridge in central Virginia, Woolwine in the southwestern part of the state, and Fountainhead near the nation’s capital offer fast and furious flow trails.
With Virginia’s located in the country’s mid-Atlantic region, you’ll need to plan your trip around winter weather regardless of where you choose to visit.
Here are 10 of the best mountain bike trails in Virginia.
1. Carvins Cove, Harrisonburg
Carvins Cove, located just outside Roanoke, is a perfect example of the type of trails that Virginia has to offer.
The state’s largest MTB hub with some 60 miles of trails, Carvins Cove has gained quite a reputation. It’s not uncommon to find pros shredding these trails, which wind through tunnels of green Blue Ridge Mountain forests.
Highlights of this trail system include the RockStar Trail Route and the Gauntlet, a wicked downhill that descends 1,000 feet in just two miles, and double black diamond Rattlin’ Run, the top of which is made up more of slabs of rock, stones, and small boulders than it is dirt.
It’s a true technical challenge.
2. Meadowood Grand Tour, Lorton
No one would blame you for thinking the trail designers of the new Meadowood Mountain Bike Trail in Lorton, Virginia had ties to the legendary midwest Copper Harbor park given its tremendous wood features.
This trail’s builders are flashing some serious carpentry skills. Long winding elevated skinny boardwalks, ladders, wood whoop de doos and massive boardwalk berms are just a few of the highlights on this 7-mile trail, which is 100% flow.
Located in close proximity to the nation’s capital, it’s only a matter of time before this trail gains in popularity.
3. Douthat State Park, Clifton Forge
If there is one characteristic that seems almost universal with Virginia’s MTB trails, it’s that they’re rocky. While that may not appeal to flow lovers, it certainly does to purists. And those purists will love Douthat State Park.
Set in the heart of the George Washington National Forest, this is a pure cross country trail that will send you deep into the backwoods.
There you’ll be challenged with that rocky terrain along with a series of steep climbs, and rewarded with stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains. Middle Mountain, with its fast trek along a ridgeline is a highlight of this IMBA Epic trail.
4. Angler’s Ridge, Danville
Just in case you thought all of Virginia’s best mountain bike trails were located in the western part of the state, there’s Angler’s Park in Danville, located in central Virginia.
Widely considered to be some of the best trails in Virginia, Angler’s Park features 35 miles of well-planned mountain biking trails that closely follow IMBA’s trail designs.
Angler’s Ridge features trails for every skill level.
Beginner’s can hone their skills on Riverside Drive while experts can challenge themselves with Crooked Stick and Witchback, which feature gravity drops, log obstacles, whoop dee dos, and surprisingly tough climbs followed by epic descents
5. Fountainhead Trails, Lake Ridge
Located just outside the Capital Beltway is a group of mountain biking trails that might just be some of the best flow trails in Virginia.
Fountainhead is made up of a series of steep climbs that set up some fast descents. Virginia soil may be known for being rocky, but most of these trails are smooth and fast with man-made berms and well-timed wooden structures that keep the flow flowing.
Expert loops include drop-offs and jumps to test your abilities as well as multiple rock gardens for technical riding. The park also includes a collection of intermediate and beginner trails.
6. Swift Creek Trails, Chesterfield
Located adjacent to capital city Richmond is a massive network of some of the best mountain bike trails in the state.
Pocahontas State Park features some 50 miles of mountain biking trails. Take the 23-mile route that includes the M\organ and Lakeview Trails for a challenging cross country ride.
But the real attraction here is the newer Swift Creek trails, which were professionally built by trail design pros from western North Carolina. These beginner trails are designed to suit handcycles, and are great training grounds for newbies and kids.
That said, they’re enough dips, bumps, and berms that make this also an exceptional pump track for experts.
7. Woolwine Trails, Woolwine
Woolwine is an amazing 15-mile loop made all the more amazing by the fact that it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere in southwestern Virginia. It’s at least an hour from anything you can refer to as a city.
While this may mean more driving to get there, it also means less traffic on the trail, meaning you really get to enjoy it. And there is much to enjoy here.
You get fast descents, rock gardens, windy technical sections, wood features, creek crossing, and optional lines for advanced riders. Highlights include the long rock garden within the West Loop.
8. Southern Traverse, Verona
With a name like Southern Traverse, it better be an epic cross country mountain biking trail. Indeed, it is. This IMBA Epic trail covers some 36 plus miles of mountainous, rugged, and rocky Virginia terrain while logging nearly 4,000 feet of climbing.
This strenuous route begins with 1,500 feet of climbing followed by some relatively smooth and flat singletrack that follows a ridgeline. The highlight of this route is the 1,100-foot singletrack descent that follows.
9. The Massanutten Ring, Strasburg
The Massanutten Ring rocks. And by that, we mean that it is loaded with rocks.
Small rocks, huge boulders, rock faces;you’ll be riding over all of it for a very long time.
If you relish the skull-rattling challenge of intense climbs through plenty of western Virginia granite, then this is the trail for you.
This nearly 70-mile rock fest will challenge your endurance, not to mention the tires and suspension on your bike.
Plan on an early start (the completion record is over 15 hours). Full suspension mountain bikes and self-sealing tubeless tires are a requirement for this trail as there are little in the way of bailout options once you get started.
10. Laurel Hill, Lorton
For those mountain bikers who like some character in their mountain biking experience, there’s Laurel Hill, a newer set of trails carved in around the site of the Lorton Correctional Facility, a 100 plus-year-old prison shut down in the 1990s.
These singletrack trails will take you past old guard towers, prison buildings, and inmate farms. Other trailside sites include an old dairy farm and a retired slaughterhouse. The trail itself, located just outside the DC beltway, is mainly flow designed for intermediate level riders and up.
In addition to historical attractions, the trails will take you through wooded sections as well as open pastures. It also incorporates a section of the 40-plus mile Fairfax County Cross Country Trail.