Mountain Biking Virginia
by Scott Adams (Falcon Guides)
© Scott Adams/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
There are a lot of trails to choose from; So, whatever you level is you might one to check it out. It is the Disneyland of Mountain Biking!
We rode up the Salt Stump Run Trail to the top of Middle Mountain. We then rode south on the Middle Mountain Trail until we came down off the end of the mountain to a hard surface road. We then rode that (turn left) down into Clifton Forge. We must confess that going up Salt Stump is a real killer. Very narrow and steep single track with a steep drop-off on one side and a steep bank on the other side. Middle Mountain Trail was awesome but VERY challenging. Narrow in lots of places, you are brushing against the vegetation on the sides of the trail, but truly beautiful and remote. Be careful of the trail intersection with Blue Suck Run Trail. You have to turn right to stay on Middle Mountain Trail. Shortly after this, you are out of Douthat State Park and on National Forest. Once you start down over the end of the mountain...HANG ON!!! It's STEEP and VERY technical. There is a large tree down that requires some work to get around and near the bottom, someone has built a block across the trail in order to steer you onto a new section that will feed out onto a dirt road that leads to the hard surfaced road I spoke of earlier. Miles of steep, technical descent!!!!
My wife and I just returned from a weeks vacation in Douthat State Park. We have been going there for years and truly enjoy the trails. This year the trails were in great shape and being from the flatlands of DE they posed challanging climbs but the downhills were well worth the effort. We did hear news of Douthat re-introducing horses to the park. This will happen next year BUT we were told the exisitng trails will not be used by horses. They are building horse trails at the north end of the park from the Beaver Dam campground to the Homestead. About 20 miles of trails. Douthat is without a doubt one of the best places we have ever ridden and we never get tired of the trails.
I've been MTB riding over 16 years. I've ridden most of the bike trails in Western NC and a few trails in SC, VA, WV and TN. Douthat is by far the best trail I've ever ridden!
The climbs are very long, with grades that reach up to 32 degrees at times. The views are well worth the effort and the descents down are fast.
The trail conditions are compact dirt and rock as you start up the mountains. As you gain altitude the trails become more of a broken fine rock gravel like condition with scattered rocks. The higher you get the more rocky the trail becomes and looser the finer broken rock becomes, making it fairly difficult at times to maintain traction if you try to power up, so you'll need to maintain a good pace to keep from breaking traction.
The ridge riding is absolutely awesome, the trails flow from ridge to ridge and you can really hammer across. Once you begin your descent be sure to unlock your fork, you'll need the travel as you roll across the rocky terrain and sharp switch backs.
If you're into single speed, you'll find this trail very challenging... but you better get your gearing right or you'll be pushing your bike up the trail. A 30/22 should do the trick on your single speed... but take a 23 or 24 cog just in case.
29" wheels are the ticket for the trails in this area and roll over much of the rocks and roots very well! But make sure your wheel set is strong and a bike built to take the abuse... this is not an XC trail by any means!
Douthat State park is a great place to ride. Excellent Terrian, really sweet single track. Over 43 miles of trail are in the park. Very well marked. The Forest service people do an excellent job keeping the trails open. They always make you feel welcome.
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