Rolling Wheels in Rolling Hills
West of Richmond, the rolling Piedmont of Virginia soon gives way to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the Appalachians beyond. The following small selection of rides is just a taste, actually, of the incredible off-road riding opportunities in the center of the state and points west.
Located near the geographical center of Virginia, Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest features a 12-mile loop that shows off the Piedmont's characteristic mix of rolling hills, dense forest, and fields at its best. The Carter Taylor Trail is well marked and easy to follow as it winds its way through Virginia's largest state forest.And don't forget your history: you're close to Sailor's Creek Historic State Park, site of the last battle between the Union and Confederate armies, and Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park. That's where Lee surrendered to Grant, ending the Civil War. Both are worth a visit before or after a ride on the Carter Taylor Trail.
Farther west is a county park near Charlottesville that welcomes mountain bikers with open arms. Walnut Creek Park has a challenging five-mile single-track around a lake that was built with the help of the local chapter of Mountain Bike Virginia. Looking for something to do post-ride? Try some history with a visit to Monticello, the mountaintop mansion and plantation of Thomas Jefferson. You can feel the presence of genius.
West again this time into 700,000-acre George Washington National Forest and Virginia's famous Blue Ridge Mountains. Two rides near Waynesboro will delight hard-core riders with their length, technical difficulty, and long climbs. The rewards to mountain bikers who accept the challenges of the Torry Ridge and Mills Creek/Kennedy Ridge Loops are spectacular scenery in a near-wilderness setting and a sense of accomplishment at the end of the ride. No wonder: the Torry Ridge Loop, for example, boasts nearly 2,000 feet of altitude gain over 21 miles! Needless to say, only experienced and strong off-road cyclists need apply.
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