A family that bikes together stays together, and there’s no better time of year to get the little ones out for a ride than fall. The days are comfortable and the views are brilliant; who wouldn’t want to get outside?
The only trouble is potential obstacles on the trails and not knowing which are easy enough for children to navigate. We can help with that.
We’ve researched some of our top trails to learn which are most appropriate for young riders. Make a plan to hit as many as you can this fall in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Before You Ride: Familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for Mountain Biking - a set of guidelines to help you enjoy the trails responsibly and minimize your impact on the natural environment.
Carvins Cove Natural Reserve: Easy Loop | Roanoke
There are more than 60 miles of trails to choose from at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve, but not all 60 are the best option for children. Rather, consider this “Easy Loop” by MTB Project. At about eight miles, it takes in the easiest segments to create a loop from the parking lot. To rock it, connect the dots: Songbird to Enchanted Forest to Little Bell to School House to Happy Valley.
Waid Recreation Park | Rocky Mount
There are 14 trails at Waid Park, but two are of particular interest for riders with children. When you connect the .4 mile River Ramble Loop Trail to the 2.4 mile Fitness Trail and the .6 mile What a Day Trail, you’ll get work in more than three miles of pedaling with your favorite young side kick. [MAP]
Falling Creek Park | Bedford
Ten miles of trails zig zag across Falling Creek Park to make for a fun bit of biking. Family rides are best suited for the Bluebird Path, Creekside Trail, and Bikepark Trail, all rated “easy.” The Bikepark section is a great skills park area, and the other two are leisurely rides for novice riders. [MAP]
Murray Run Greenway | Roanoke
A piece of the Roanoke Valley Greenways System is the Murray Run Greenway, meandering from Colonial Avenue through Fishburn and Woodlawn Parks to end at Shrine Hill Park. At 2.8 miles, the Greenway is a nice length for families, but use caution when crossing Brambleton Avenue and be ready for the steep (17 to 19% grade) 20’ climb/descent on the west side of the avenue. [MAP]
Wolf Creek Greenway | Vinton
The gravel trail between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Route 634 that parallels Wolf Creek is the Wolf Creek Greenway, another part of the Roanoke Valley Greenways System. Picnic areas, rest areas, and recreational fields are available along the way, as well as two parking lots for easy access. [MAP]
Smith Mountain Lake State Park | Huddleston
More than 27 miles of trails await at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. We like the odds of Opossum Trot and Tobacco Run for families biking together. Both run along the water and will lead to the dock and the Lakeview trail. In total, SML State Park offers seven “easy” trails for your exploration. [MAP]
Poverty Creek at Pandapas Pond | Blacksburg
Poverty Creek is a good out-and-back and considered the easiest trail the park has to offer. Well traversed, Poverty Creek also delivers a couple of surprises along the way, like mud holes and a few tricky rocky places. Read a little more from MTB Project to get the lay of the land.
Explore Park | Roanoke County
Novice mountain bikers are able to learn the tricks of the trade with guided programs from Roanoke Mountain Adventures. They take you to Explore Park, where there are about 10 miles of biking trails to, well, explore. From parking lot C, the White Trail is less than a mile long and can connect to the three mile Yellow Trail. More experienced riders may enjoy the many switchbacks of the Blue Trail, which is more than two miles long, or go on to connect to the 1.14-mile Red Trail. [MAP]
Greenfield Recreation Park | Troutville
The Greenfield Trail System encompasses Greenfield Recreation Park, Greenfield Elementary, and Greenfield Education and Training Center. The Cherry Blossom Trail is less than a mile long and runs from the Ed & Training Center to the far side of the pond. For reference, the picnic area is about the halfway point. At the Recreation Park, the Greenfield Recreation Trail is more than three miles long and simply covers the perimeter of the Botetourt Sports Complex. [MAP]
Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail | Roanoke County & Salem
For nearly two miles the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail includes interpretive signs and points of interest to help explain the significance of the June 1864 Battle of Hanging Rock, the last meeting between Lieutenant General Jubal Early and Major General David Hunter. The straight shot on gravel is an easy out-and-back for families of all abilities. [MAP]
Guided Rides: The team at Roanoke Mountain Adventures can help you plan a mountain biking adventure for the entire family! Whether you’re looking for a guided trip or want to set your own course, this local outfitter on the Roanoke River Greenway offers shuttle services, bike rentals, and route recommendations.
There’s never a time like the present to become an active family. Time spent together in adventure is never wasted. Show us what your memories are made of when you share them socially and add the hashtag #BlueRidgeDay.