WV Bike Packing Gravel Grinder Trip Recap - September 2014 #letsride

Quick facts
3 cyclists (Phil, Tim and Ray)
Roughly 40lbs of gear each
Food for 3 days
221 miles
Ascended 18,475 ft
Descended 17,000 ft

WV Bikecamping Day 1
From Elkins to Laurel Fork Campground. We started with a 2000 ft climb and a bumpy but beautiful descent. A local kid offered to do a "burnout" on his 4 wheeler, haha. Stopped in Bemis at an interesting combo grocery/bar/hunter check-in station. I think this is where I lost my gloves. We decided to take a shorter route since we were running out of daylight and saw the remains of a car wreck below a washed out road. We setup camp and our neighbor Jack offered to help with a fire and gave us water to replenish our supplies. We ate dinner and then hung out trying to dry off with the fire. We had rain off and on through the evening.

Alt Route we took

WV Bikecamping Day 2
From Laurel Fork to Gatewood Campground. We had drizzle to start but it cleared later up. We passed through some pretty alpine farmland valleys and stopped at the Sinks of Gandy where the creek goes through a mountain in a cave. We stopped for lunch at Spruce Knob Lake. We checked into the campground, gathered our bulk water and headed up to Gatewood Campground, which is the group campground is at the end of a 500ft climb, of course. After setting up camp Phil and I rode up to Spruce Knob, which is the highest point in WV at 4,863 feet and some wonderful people gave us some water. After dinner the sky cleared out and we had some great stargazing. We had the campground entirely to ourselves. It rained over night and the wind picked up.
WV Bikecamping Day 3
From Gatewood Campground to Dolly Sods. This was our biggest day in the saddle. The 55 miles included a 4900 ft drop in the first half along Gandy and Seneca creeks and 4500 ft ascent in the second half (3000 in the last 10 miles). We had lunch under Seneca rocks, then rode up the Potomac River valley. The temps and humidity shot up and we stopped for a break at a church where we replenished water supplies. The last 4 miles was a 2000 ft continuous climb on tree lined gravel. We stopped at Bear Rocks at sunset and then rode into camp. We were able to eat before the rain started, but I got caught in a downpour before I could get into the tent.
WV Bikepacking Day 4
From Dolly Sods to Davis. We started at Dolly Sods with a hike down a nature trail to see one of the bogs. Then the big descent: 3000 ft in 3 miles. Friendly workers helped us carry our bikes over a culvert in progress. We then climbed up to the Canaan Valley for lunch and continued to Canaan Heights. Finally, we rode the Canaan Mountain Loop, which had stream crossings, rock gardens and a healthy does of big puddles. We checked into the Blackwater Falls State Park cabins, laid our gear out to dry and headed into town for dinner at Muttley's. We grabbed some beer and snacks at the store and headed back for a fire in the fireplace.

WV Bikepacking Day 5
Sightseeing at Blackwater Falls State Park and Davis, WV. We started with a hike out to Lindy Point near our cabin, lunch in town at Hellbender Burritos (very good and humongous), then back to Blackwater Falls. In the evening Phil and I rode back into town for dinner at the FOE (cheap wings and beer) and ducked into Sirianna's Cafe to escape the rain. We had pizza and beer for a second dinner. The ride back to the cabin was quiet and refreshing after the rains. We finished out the evening with another fire in the fireplace.

WV Bikepacking Day 6 
From Davis to Elkins. We packed up the gear and rode into Davis for breakfast at the Bright Morning Inn. We backtracked and headed to Thomas to ride the Blackwater Canyon Trail. If the trail could be cleaned up it would be a destination. The canyon has a lots of waterfalls, but its a bit overgrown and has lots of downed trees. Our direction took us downhill almost the entire 10 miles. In Hendricks we picked up the Allegheny Highlands Trail and rode that back to Elkins (with a lunch stop in Parsons). This trail alternates between pavement in the towns and doubletrack between them.

Thanks to Tim for the route and logistics. Phil rode with a broken toe so he gets the trooper award. This was an incredible adventure. ~Ray


  1. Looks like a great route! I did half of the VMBT a few weeks ago; shooting for the other half by the end of the month.

  2. Then the big descent: 3000 ft in 3 miles.


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