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Mountain Biking in the Gorge
By Dale Porter
Map of Ride
This piece originally appeared in the September issue of Spoke Notes, the Newsletter of the Mountain State Wheelers Bicycle Club.
Mountain biking in the New River features easy to moderate trails and excellent scenery. Many trails within the park are banned to biking, so please obtain a biking trail map from the visitor center before riding on trails other than those listed below.
Three of the best bike trails in the gorge are the Thurmond - Minden Trail, the Southside Junction - Brookland trail, and the Cunard - Kaymoor.
Thurmond - Minden Trail is a 3.2 mile rail trail with the best surface of the three discussed here. Bridges are decked and it is considered a double track trail. Starting at the Thurmond end, after a short downgrade, it has a gentle ascending grade as it follows first the New River and then Arbuckle Creek to Minden. A short connector trail (Dunloup Creek) runs down to Southside Junction where the train begins its ascent. There are outstanding views of Thurmond on the way. There is a huge monolith rock that has slid onto the trail, which will require you to carry your bike up and down a set of steps.
Southside Jct. - Brookland Trail is 6 miles following the New River at the bottom of the gorge. This trail can be accessed from Thurmond or the Cunard access road. If accessing from Cunard, drive past the rafting access area to the end of the gravel where there is a small parking area. The Southside trail is also a railtrail and the rails are still down is some areas, so be careful when crossing them. It is basically flat, but can be very muddy during wet seasons, especially on the Cunard end. The mud also stains, so good clothes are not advised. Since this trail follows the river level, the scenery is not quite as inspiring as for the other two trails. This trail is single track, but is not a technical trail.
The Cunard - Kaymoor trail can be reached from the Cunard access road or from Kaymoor Top. The parking area on the Cunard end is on the right about 150 yards past the trailhead, which is hard to spot when arriving. To get to the trail from Kaymoor Top, ride out the gated road on the right just before the parking area. This road follows along the top of the gorge for a distance before dropping steeply down into the gorge and intersecting the Cunard - Kaymoor trail. To get to the Kaymoor mine complex, turn left at the intersection. The trail on past Kaymoor Mine to Fayette Station Road is banned to bicycles. A short walk past the mine will afford you an excellent view of the New River gorge Bridge.
The trail from Cunard to Kaymoor mine about 7 miles. It runs the gorge rim a few hundred feet above the river. Outstanding views can be found all along this trail. This trail is single track except between the Kaymoor Mine and the Kaymoor Top intersection. It is more technical than the the Southside trail, but only requires moderate skill. It also has more elevation change than the other two trails described. There are a couple steam crossings and a few muddy spots on this trail, but most of the trail is usually pretty good riding.
Cunard - Kaymoor is on my list of must-do rides.
New River Gorge Chronology
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