There is a common saying attributed to the mountain bike crowds ~ “Welcome to real mountain biking!” Pocahontas County mountain biking trails were created with just that thinking in mind.
Some trails are smooth while others are ledgy and edgy. Trails in the area have epic climbs, white-knuckling down hills and let’s not forget the West Virginia mud! Pocahontas County is a great place to hone your handling skills and challenge the most experienced riders.
A good ride for beginners is the eight mile Cowpasture Loop, accessible from FR 102, (Cranberry Glade Road) which follows an old railroad grade. It’s a pleasant amble around the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, passing through meadow, hardwood forest, and rhododendron.
Intermediate riders will enjoy the Pocahontas Trail which begins at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center winding westward. The trail connects to several other trails and results in over 50 miles of exhilarating ride. The five mile stretch to the Falls of Hills Creek and return is also perfect for an undemanding day ride.
The trail from Eagle Camp, north to Frosty Gap Trail to Kennison Mountain is excellent for agile riders. The long and difficult trail is marked by roots, big bumps and bogs. But isn’t that the reason you mountain bike?
For technically confident riders, the Tea Creek Campground is a good beginning point. A ride along Turkey Front Trail to Boundary Trail to Bear Pen offers rollercoaster single tracks dotted with rocks, roots and ridges threading rolling hills, and substantial uplifts.
One of the most adventurous mountain bike races in the region is the Wild 100 which begins in mid-August at the popular Elk River Touring Center in Slatyfork. The daring course totals 62 miles and has a cumulative elevation gain of nearly 8,000 ft. The subtle trails of Tea Creek Mountain, Bear Pen, and Red Run lead you to the more daring trails of Sharps Knob and Gay Knob, which plunge deep into the Tea Creek Canyon.
These are the trails and terrain that have put Slatyfork, WV on the map as the eastern Mecca of serious mountain biking. Depending on weather conditions, some racers don’t cross the finish line until night fall.
While visiting in Marlinton take advantage of the eight-mile Marlin Mountain Loop. Going in from the north end offers a good climb, but beware of the water bars after even the slightest amount of rain.
All over the gorgeous county you can bike your way into these rugged, convoluted mountains to find 900 miles of unbeatable trails, tracts of old-growth forest, and views of undulating mountain ridges draped in vivid reminders of the pathways of the Appalachian early pioneers.