Four great mountain biking trails with post-ride craft brews nearby
There’s nothing like an ice-cold Brewski after a killer day of shredding trails. Below, we share a four-pack of rides that highlight some of the Blue Ridge region’s best singletrack, located near great craft breweries for a post-ride thirst quencher.
The Ride: Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area
Mountain biking has helped fuel an economic renaissance for the tiny, 700-person town of Davis—and earned it a shooting star reputation among East Coast enthusiasts.
The MTB mecca is surrounded by 4,000-foot Alleghany Mountain peaks, nestled in a county that holds about 315 square miles of state parks and national forest lands. Together, Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley Resort state parks offer visitors more than 50 miles of trails featuring a nice mix of old-school, cross-country gnar and electrifying park-grade flow.
The trailhead for 14.7-mile Hellbender Cirque is less than a mile from town. The route is a hard-rocking showcase of the 3,168-acre Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area. Along the way you’ll use wood bridges to traverse wetlands and bogs, navigate rockfaces and tricky rock gardens, catch 3,500-plus-foot views of Davis, the Blackwater River, and Canaan Valley, and surf more than 1,200 vertical feet of thrillingly technical descents.
The Beer: Stumptown Ales
Enjoy a rotating menu of at least eight house brews on tap, and a small selection of regional wines at this brewery in the heart of downtown Davis. The renovated historic building looks out on the Blackwater River, where the company is in the process of building a seating area. Expect a welcoming, hipster-meets-rugged-and-outdoorsy indoor ambience that should make post-ride visitors feel at home. Routinely touted as West Virginia’s best brewery, Stumptown has a seasonal menu of fruited sours that’s the stuff of local legend.
The Ride: Carvins Cove Natural Area
More than two decades of passion, lobbying, and good old-fashioned elbow grease have transformed this 12,700-acre municipal park into an MTB paradise. The Cove boasts about 80 miles of purpose-built trails centered around 2,500-foot Brushy Mountain that are sure to inspire greenhorns and experts alike. Better still, they’re located just 10 miles from downtown and minutes from Interstate 81.
The area holds a cornucopia of fantastic rides, but four in particular steal the show. String them together for 7.5 miles of gravity-blasting fun, with a couple miles of thigh-melting climbing thrown in for good measure.
Start at the Timberview Parking area and use mile-long Trough as a climbing route. Hang a right onto Brushy Mountain Fire Road and continue to Royalty trailhead, which brings 1.2 miles of furious downhills and nearly 1,000 feet of vertical drop peppered with berms, jumps, and technical sections. Repeat the Trough/Brushy climb, then check out 2.1-mile, flow-heavy Gauntlet. Veer onto OG Line for .6 miles of jump-fueled adrenaline.
The Beer: Parkway Brewing
Parkway sits on the Roanoke Valley Greenway a few miles from the Cove, and has an outdoor beer garden that feels like a small public park. In the evenings, expect live music, food trucks, and about 20 house-made beers on tap. Take your tastebuds on an adventure with experimental pilot system brews like French toast porters, fruited kettle sours, and double dry-hopped IPAs.
The Ride: Fire Mountain Bike Park
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ 56,000-acre Qualla Boundary is home to one of the Southeast’s coolest bike parks—and it’s free and open to the public. Fire Mountain is as convenient as it is scenically dazzling, sitting about a mile from both downtown Cherokee and the southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The resort-style system has about 14 miles of professionally built flow trails, with a healthy distribution of family-friendly greens and blues, as well as ripper-ready blacks. Routes wind through rhododendron forests characterized by towering oaks and mossy, boulder-strewn streams. Views of nearby 4,000-foot peaks and the Great Smoky Mountains abound. The natural beauty alone is worth a visit.
Two-mile-long, one-way doubletrack rollercoaster Kessel Run is the headliner. This perma-grin inducing beast brings 2,000 feet of vertical descent packed with dozens of tabletops, wood features, high berms, and rhythm sections. Feature-heavy .5-mile progression trail Skilly is also not to be missed. Look for a ton of jumps, ladder bridges, wall rides, rock gardens, and a lily pad gap.
The Beer: Native Brews Tap & Grill
The first craft spirits operation to open in the Qualla Boundary, Native Brews offers five house beers, two hard sodas, and a hard lemonade. They also make distilled spirits, including a vodka, gin, and whiskey. Of these, we love the Woven Walnut Stout, a delectable dessert beer that blends earthy undertones of roasted walnut with decadent semisweet chocolate.
Solid pub fare is available as well, including seasonal, locally sourced trout dishes. Enjoy outdoor seating in a covered patio area or grassy beer garden.
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
The Ride: Pisgah National Forest
It’s rare to encounter a serious U.S. downhiller that doesn’t have Pisgah on their bucket list. With nearly 2,000 miles of trails, the national forest offers some of the most diverse—and intense—riding in the country. Access to one of its crown jewels awaits just five miles north of Brevard.
The 13.6-mile Black Mountain Loop carries riders on an early climb to the 4,100-foot peak of Rich Mountain, then follows with a cascade of white-knuckle descents totaling more than 2,700 feet of drop.
Upper portions feature lots of rocky, technical riding and some challenging erosion trenches. From there, the terrain smooths out progressively, eventually transforming into a posterchild for modern flow. World-class downhills await in the trail’s middle and lower sections, including a new 1.5-mile machine-groomed reroute that opened in 2021.
The Beer: Ecusta Brewing Company
This kind of post-ride amenity is rare: The brewery’s outdoor seating area is located at the entrance to the national forest less than a block from a greenway connector trail. A spacious, warehouse-style taproom offers an indoor respite, while a picnic area on the Davidson River keeps your outdoor vibe intact. About 14 house and seasonal brews can be found on tap daily. They’re supplemented by a hardy menu of pub fare, wines, and ciders.
Cover Photo: The Enchanted Forest at Carvins Cove. Photo by jared Ladia/Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge