Cycling opportunities throughout the Shenandoah Valley are a diverse mix of mountain singletrack, organized road rides, thrilling bike parks and leisurely spins on small-town paths such as Luray’s Greenway. Miles of paved roads with little car traffic and spectacular mountain views are common.
Harrisonburg is especially well established as a cycling center—it has been named at various times one of Blue Ridge Outdoors’ “10 Best Blue Ridge Bike Towns” and one of National Geographic’s “Top 10 Mountain Bike Towns.” A number of different rides, like the one at right, in the area are described here.
Several state parks in the Shenandoah Valley offer exciting mountain biking opportunities as well. Shenandoah River/Andy Guest State Park, on Route 340 between Front Royal and Luray, offers more than 24 miles of scenic trails for cyclists, hikers and horseback riders. A good mix of easy and not-so-easy paths accommodate just about anyone. Rental cabins, a zipline, easy canoe access and 1600+ acres of mountain and riverfront serenity add to this park’s allure.
Douthat State Park is in Bath and Alleghany counties, about an hour and a half southwest of Harrisonburg. The park is about 4,500 acres, has a 50-acre lake and offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails, the majority of which can be biked as well. (Hikers have the right of way.) This park offers a lot: classic Blue Ridge mountain scenery, a sandy swimming beach with snack bar, boat rentals, a gift shop and camp store, and 32 cabins. Plus, there are playgrounds, an amphitheater, picnic areas, tent and trailer camping, and a restaurant overlooking the lake.
A third state park—Seven Bends—offers eight miles of hiking/biking trails, with two lying along the seven bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The rest of the trails lead into the Massanutten Mountain/George Washington National Forest. The park is a day use area, about three miles from Woodstock, and about 1,066 acres.
While it’s a simple matter to find a bike route–paved, dirt or gravel–almost anywhere in the Valley, if you have not visited a Bike Park, the options are just too good to overlook.
In picturesque Shenandoah County, Bryce Mountain Resort boasts the Bryce Bike Park–featuring eight lift-accessed trails ranging from beginner to advanced that will take you above the park, hovering over some of the biggest jumps. You can rent bikes, helmets, etc., and if you’re new to the sport, their certified instructors are ready to help you get rolling.
Bryce has been busy expanding their operation, too. The resort’s Andrew DeVier-Scott told us, “We just completed a major expansion and added two new trails to the backside of our mountain. We were able to acquire a plot of land adjacent to Red Eye, our beginner ski slope, to use for new trails.
“Both trails offer something different from everything else in the park. Old Fashioned is a fast yet playful blue flow trail. Dark and Stormy is a black trail that connects raw, off-camber sections connected by finely built catch berms. Both trails spit riders out by the start of our golf course in the back of the parking lot. It’s a short, easy ride back to the lift.
“We have plans to continue building trail on the new property in the future,” DeVier-Scott continued.
“As for events this year we are not planning much until the fall for now,” DeVier-Scott said. “Rocktown Bicycles is hosting a gravel race on September 20th. “ Two other events planned (but subject to change are the Conquer the Mountain 52-mile mountain bike race, and a 32-mile Gravel Grinder, both scheduled for October 17th.
Another major cycling facility is the Mountain Bike Park at Massanutten Resort, a sophisticated complex offering trails, races, events, rentals and services. Use a chair lift to get to the top of Massanutten Mountain, then careen downhill on beginner, intermediate or advanced jump and singletrack trails.
“We’re very excited about a renewed energy around cycling that stay- at- home orders have infused into the sport,” said the resort’s Kenny Hess. “We had to postpone two events (the popular Yee-Ha Downhill and Hoo-Ha! Enduro & XC races) but we hope to reschedule and announce new dates very soon.”
The Bike Park is operating on a partial schedule right now (Sat., Sun., and Wed.) but plans to open fully early this month. Keep an eye on their schedule here.
Everything you need can be rented on-site. There is a fully stocked bike shop on the premises, plus about 30 miles of wooded trails on the western slope of the mountain–best suited for intermediate to advanced riders. Bike rentals, shuttles and lessons are all available, too.
Massanutten is a four-season resort, 6,000 acres offering extensive amenities such as: an Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark, Ski and Adventure Park area, two golf courses, farm-to-table dining experiences, shopping and recreation options, along with a day spa for complete relaxation and rejuvenation. Plus the Bike Park, of course.
Banner photo courtesy Massanutten Resort