Top Ten U.S. Road Biking Routes

Skyline Drive, Virginia
  |  Gorp.com

The Appalachian Mountains of Virginia have been attracting oglers and peepers for many many years. And for good reasons: The spring and summer sylvan grace of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, the prismatic brilliance of the autumnal leaf spread, and the cutting chill of the ocean-bound winds pulling at the hair of stubborn all-weather Appalachian thru-hikers are incomparable. In the heart of these mountains, Shenandoah National Park is a long, narrow playground of wildlife and flowers. Looking out across the hills, it is almost possible to imagine this country as the wild and wonderful land it once was. For that reason alone, it is amazing.

Skyline Drive runs for 105 miles along the length of Shenandoah National Park. The northern continuation of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it sticks to the high points of a rampart of mountains and has views west out to Shenandoah Valley and east to Virginia proper and the Atlantic. For many cycle tourists, the Skyline is the ultimate experience. Its length, its majesty, and its relentlessness (humbling even to the most swarthy) make it a mecca for those seeking a vacation that isn't just about sightseeing in jaw-slacked awe and developing a good poolside manner.

One of the most popular starting points is at the northern end of the drive at Front Royal, Virginia. As you might have guessed, since the Skyline is a ridgecrest road, there is some climbing to be done right at the outset. Actually, it is a total of 22 miles of climbing up 2,000 feet to 3,385-foot Hogback Overlook. You won't face anything like that again, but don't think that the rest of the ride will be easy. There is no paved shoulder on the Drive, but that's OK; the road is usually wide enough for comfortable sharing. Watch out for RVs anyway.

More on biking in Shenandoah National Park.


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