These trails in the Monongahela National Forest are what many avid bikers claim to be some of the best on the east coast.
If you ever wanted to see the best of the Appalachian Mountains from the seat of your mountain bike, there are several trails in the Monongahela National Forest that will take you past historical sites, old rail road tracks and along the ridge of peaks that offer stunning views.
The Monongahela National Forest is in Elkins, West Virginia that encompasses 850,000 acres along the Allegheny Mountains, a sub-range of the Appalachians. These five rides are located on the south east portion of the park, and are representative of the riding conditions you’ll find throughout the area. The best time to ride is March through October when weather conditions are optimum and not too wet. Along these trails you’ll encounter very rocky terrain, slick tree roots and a lot of wet and deteriorating trails.
Greenbrier River Trail: This 8.5 mile trail starts at the Old Train Depot visitor’s center in downtown Marlington. The town is located off of Highway 219 between the towns of Elkins and Lewisburg. The trail is one of the most scenic and skirts wild forests and deserted farmsteads. Along the way you’ll reach a train tressel with a long tunnel. At the base is a popular swimming hole that’s inviting to cool off on a hot summer day ride.
Buckley Mountain Loop: This 12 mile ride also begins in Marlinton and starts with a five-mile climb on a dirt well-packed road. This starts at the Old Train Depot, heads southwest on the Greenbrier River Trail and end up on some blacktop just past the Municipal Park. From here you’ll find Stillhouse Run Road/Forest Road 304 and begin climbing up for four miles until you reach the Allehgeny Trail that’s covered in grass. It’s along this section that you’ll pass the grave of Sheriff Messler who was shot by one of the McCoy family in 1907 during the famous feud. You’ll then reach a gravel forest road #1002 and then ride downhill through the woods and meet back up with the Greenbrier River Trail and ending the loop at the Old Train Depot.
Trail #456: This single-track trail parallels a hiking trail and is located at the Pocahontas Campground along Highway 92, just six miles south east of Minneahaha Springs. Although most of the surface on this trial is smooth and free of any obstacles, this 4.6 mile trail starts with a two-mile climb before topping out near the Virginia state line, then descends back down to finish the loop.
Laurel Creek Trail: An 8.1 mile loop that’s twice as tough and twice as long as Trail #456. The single track trail takes you along abandoned railroad grade and deteriorated roads. The trail head starts two miles back from the Pocahontas Campground towards Minnehaha Springs.
Meadow Creek Mountain: A tough 16 mile lo0p at the far south end of the forest. Expect technical riding but the area is much drier. Travel along Highway 92 from White Sulphur Springs 15 miles northeast to Neola. Turn right onto Highway 14 and park near the foot-bridge approximately 2.5 miles from the turn. You pedal up the highway for 7.2 miles until you reach a forest road that’s opposite the Lake Sherwood Recreation area, and climb for a mile and a half . You’ll then meet a stretch of switchbacks that will be a long elevation stretch before heading back to the starting point.
While these trials are only some of the many others in the region, they can be moderate to tough for some riders. If you want to test your skill levels first, many experienced riders in the area recommend trying the Caanan Loop Road for beginners. It starts at Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis. Hardcore riders can head out to the Caanan Mountain area just outside of Davis where the trails are much more difficult along the Plantation Trail/Lindy Run.
For more information, you can visit the Monongahela National Forest website HERE.