Big Levels Mountain Bike Ride

Departure Address: Coal Road (FS 42) and Turkey Pen Ridge TrailMap

Start Coordinates: 37.963115, -78.9710867

Parking: Coal Road (gravel FS 42) off Mt Torrey Rd (VA SR 664)Map

Total Distance: 5-15 miles Map

Food and Drinks: R & B Grocery (Marathon Gas Station)Map

While the sport of mountain biking has not been around the Shenandoah Valley for that long, bike rides at Big Levels in the Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District (a wildlife management area south of Waynesboro) have quickly become classics and they serve as rights of passage for competitive mountain bikers. Big Levels, following the western edge of the Blue Ridge near Sherando Lake Recreation Area, lives up to its name.

But you can also take it easy and be non-competitive this time around: start with a few loops on (mostly) flat, but scenicaly beautiful terrain, around the Waynesboro Water Reservoir ;8-) I recommend you do ~5-10 miles in one-and-half hours.

Start west on FS 42 for a mile,turn left into Mills Creek Trail until you reach the Waynesborro reservoir. The enbankment of the reservoir is a good picnic spot offering great wievs of the Reservoir and sourrounding Turkey Ridge (think romance if you have a date and spread a picnic blanket). Return going back on Mills Creek Trail and turn right onto Turkey Pen Ridge Trail to Coal Road to reach your parked car.

Not only are these beginner's trails sublime, but you will have the opportunity to cool off with a dip in the Sherando Lake in season after your ride - if you feel like!

If you are though eager to test your aerobic and technical skills you can also try to take upon Mills Creek Trail - it climbs the mountain via a series of switchbacks. We can see how far up you can go before starting to feel the pain and start crying ;8-). For extreme riders: this section of the 21-mile loop gains 1,000 feet in elevation over 1.5 miles before reaching the Bald Mountain!

Recommended Gear: Isolated Water Bottle, Cycling Backpack, First Aid Kit.

Recommended Meetups and Other Groups:

Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club

Recommended Books: Falcon Mountain Bike Virginia, Mountain Bike! Virginia, Backroad Bicycling in the Blue Ridge.

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