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Canaan Valley
By Robin Brown Broughton

Ask the hard-core mountain bikers to describe the Canaan Valley area, and watch them struggle for the right words. The riding is so good in this area that local racers claim no national races have been held in this area since the early 80s because the terrain is "too tough."

But its "extremely technical" reputation is what attracts thousands of intermediate and expert riders to the area each year. Known for its giant "moon rocks," miles and miles of twisting singletrack and cold river crossings, the area also has "endless" riding for beginners, according to Matt Marcus, owner of Blackwater Bikes.

"There's so much riding here. Anyone who says they've done most of the riding this area is not telling the truth. It's impossible. There's just so much," Marcus says. "There are two huge state parks, a wildlife refuge, and we're surrounded by national forest."

Riders can pick up maps at Blackwater Bikes in the center of the little town of Davis, a mountain biking mecca and home of the best garlic pizza in the world (Sirianni's). "One of the great things is that you can park your car and ride everywhere. You can come here and not get back in your car for a week."

Every time I go to Davis, I ride Plantation Trail, a favorite among West Virginia riders and part of one of the Canaan races. This trail is everything you could want in a mountain bike trail--challenging yet rideable, easily accessed from town and marked really well.

Marcus also recommends the trails at Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Valley State Park, Timberline Ski Resort, and in the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge. One of his favorites is Canyon Rim, a 4-mile singletrack downhill. Beginners might try Dobbin House Trail, which Marcus describes as "flat and smooth with great views."

For more information, call Blackwater Bikes at 304-259-5286.

Snowshoe || Slatyfork || Cheat Mountain || Canaan Valley (top)
New River Gorge || Kanawha State Forest || Charles Fork Lake || Morgantown

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