Most people think rafting and rock climbing when it comes to New River Gorge. But there’s another game in town. For almost a decade, the National Park Service has teamed up with local governments, organizations, and businesses to expand mountain biking in the area.
The result? A trail network that makes a trip south more than worth the three and half hour drive. There are multiple riding areas to explore, and the Arrowhead Trails just outside of Fayetteville is a great place to start.
West Virginia is famous for its technical trails, and while Arrowhead won’t disappoint on that front, the trails here are approachable to beginner and intermediate riders. According to the NPS, more than 1,000 members of the Boy Scouts national honor society created this stacked loop system in just a few months in 2011. The 13 miles of trails took 78,544 hours to build, making this one of the largest youth service projects in NPS history.
There are three main loops: a pair of easy one- and three-mile loops and a longer six-mile intermediate loop. What makes the Arrowhead system so accessible? There’s less than 200 feet of elevation change on these trails, so you get more rolling than winch and plummet riding. And while the trails have small obstacles, roots, and rocks, overall there’s a lot more flow than jank. Cruise through sweet rhododendron tunnels (blooming late June and early July), swoop down tree slaloms, and even score glimpses of the gorge below. The trails are well-marked and work in both directions.
The locals are constantly developing new trails outside the purview of the NPS. Currently the other main trail system, Wolf Creek, has about 15 miles of trails. The Fayette Trail Coalition maintains these trails and is working on an additional 50 miles in the next few years (check their Facebook page for volunteer opportunities).