When you’re planning a trip, it can be hard to find a destination that fits everyone in your group. The mountain biking trails of Charlottesville and Albemarle County offer something for every skill level.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing ride on a paved greenway or super technical descents, you’ll find there’s plenty to keep you occupied while surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. Check out these top trail recommendations for your next mountain biking getaway.
Cruise along Schenk’s Greenway and the John Warner Parkway Trail, a paved pathway perfect for a casual ride and families. As you pedal over rolling hills and down into the grasslands near the creek, keep your eyes peeled for the public art sculptures that line the trail.
For those who are just starting out on a mountain bike, head over to Preddy Creek Park for 10 miles of multi-use trails. Hard packed, flowy, rocky, technical—you’ll experience it all as you roll through this beautiful preserve.
Looking to take your skills up a notch? Hit the loop around Ragged Mountain Reservoir as you wind your way through the forest on switchbacks and flowy singletrack. Connect up with the brand new mountain bike-influenced trails in the Heyward Community Forest for even more miles in the saddle.
Walnut Creek Park is another excellent option, featuring 15 miles of trails for all ability levels. Link together the loops for views of the water and leg-burning climbs including more advanced sections for experienced riders. You can even spend some time on the 45-acre lake for a post-ride paddle, or try out one of the finest 18-hole disc golf courses in the region.
Not far from the University of Virginia, Observatory Hill offers excellent technical singletrack and climbing close to town. Known locally as O-Hill, several trails crisscross to give you a number of options for a quick ride or an all-day excursion. The steep and rocky terrain makes for some more aggressive riding in spots.
For a quick excursion, head out to Mint Springs Valley Park in Crozet for another eight miles of riding. These technical climbs and fast downhills filled with rocks and roots are not for beginners. When you’re done on the trails, spend some time paddling, fishing, or swimming in the lake.
Looking for some of the steepest and most technical trails in the area? Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park is the place to be for experienced riders. Starting at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll head straight up to the border of Shenandoah National Park. Come ready for a bit of hike-a-bike on the way up, as well as steep, rocky, and rooty singletrack on the way back down.
Experience it All
Want to see the whole city? The Rivanna Trail makes it easy to take in the views from the saddle. As the trail winds its way around the entire city of Charlottesville, you’ll come across a wide range of trail surfaces and difficulty levels. From the kid-friendly paved sections around Riverview Park to steep and technical singletrack, this one’s sure to keep you on your toes. Along the way, take some time to enjoy excellent scenic spots by the river while you enjoy a snack.
When you’re done on the trails, head into Charlottesville for a night on the town. With countless restaurants across a wide range of cuisine styles, you’re sure to find something new and delicious to try. Explore hopping craft breweries, an eclectic music scene, and more before settling in for a night at one of the area’s many inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, or chain hotels.
Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Va., invite you to hit the trails on two wheels.
All photos courtesy of Visit Charlottesville