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Douthat - It Ain't Flat

(updated: Jul 7, 2009)

Douthat, pronouced dow-thet, at least by the locals, is a well-managed state park in Virginia. It contains some 40 miles of amazing trails, some singletrack rebuilt by the now legendary trailbuilders of Trail Dynamics.

We camped at Douthat over the weekend on our trip north to PA. The trails start right from the campsite, and you can do a huge loop and end up close to where you started, minimal road riding necessary. It is six hours from Wilmington, same as Pisgah and Dupont, and closer than Tsali.

At first I thought these trails are similar to Tsali, with awesome views, but I have to say that there's definitely more climbing in Douthat, and it's steeper. I think this is what keeps a lot of people off these trails. I mean, there was hardly anyone on the trails on a perfect weekend. I met some nice folks and rode with them and got some pics and tips on what trails to ride.

There's also tons more riding in the G. Washington National Forest which borders Douthat. There's also the Monongahela National Forest, and Shenandoah National Park nearby. You can get lost for weeks out here.

I like Virginia because there's a lot of public land. Western VA is just beautiful, and there's tons of great riding. I hear there's really good stuff around Roanoke.

I borrowed the title of this post from a t-shirt I bought at the park office. I thought it was appropriate.

Link to trail info, including map and directions.

If you want a great loop, go up Ross Camp to Mountain Side to Brushy Hollow. Down Brushy Hollow to the road. Then up Stony Run, a 4.2 mile climb with a dozen or more switchbacks. Then either head down Blue Suck with a stop off at Tuscarora Overlook, or take Middle Mountain to Salt Stump. Down Salt Stump to Backway Hollow and back to camp.

Now onto the pics:

Salt Stump Trail. Note how narrow the singletrack is. And it is also steep, making it difficult to keep your front tire on the trail. I did not see much evidence remaining of the ice storm damage other than some large old downed trees. But the entire mountainside must have been laid bare because a lot of the trees looked to be about only 30 years old.

View from gap created by ice storm damage. Note Douthat Lake below and the sandy colored "beach" area just visible. That is very close to where I started.

Start of Middle Mountain Trail. Note bullet holes.

Granny ringing it.

Field of wild blueberries on Middle Mountain Trail. Strong breeze at the top, and the trees didn't seem very big - maybe not much older than 30 years.

The first reward for all that climbing. The view from Tuscarora Overlook.

Log cabin at Tuscarora Overlook.

That ridge you are looking at is what I will be climbing next. It has an awesome downhill.

Now look at the beach below where I started. The people are tiny dots. My kids are down there somewhere.

Blue Suck Falls on Blue Suck Trail.

Waterfall section on Blue Suck Trail. Cleaned by yours truly.

View from other end of waterfall.

Another waterfall section.

At the bottom. Douthat Lake with view of beach.

Mountain Side Trail.

Switchback on Mountain Side Trail. I loved these switchbacks. They reminded me of the San Juan Trail in Southern CA.

View of Lake Douthat from other side.

Mountain Side Trail. Narrow singletrack climb.

Mountain Side Trail. What a great trail.

Pictures do not do it justice.

Mountain Top Trail. Boundary with G. Washington NF.

Brushy Hollow Trail. Overlooking G. Washington NF.

i wuz here!

Hanging bridge at bottom of Brushy Hollow. No pics of the downhill - it was too much fun to stop!

Mountain Laurel.

The new RIP 9. Roll In Peace.

Trail Map:

Click to view PDF.

Filed Under: Ride Reports > Virginia > Clifton Forge


1. Dave said...

I rode their last year and you are absolutely right, be prepared to climb. The reward is well worth it though. Some really nice and long bombing downhills. I was there with a group of about 8 other riders and as far as I could tell, we were the only riders there. Not crowded at all. I would definitely recommend Douthat for a trip.

Jul 8, 2009 @ 5:16 AM

2. peter schulz said...

very nice piece ,erol. this article denoted what this website should be about, cool rides in different places, honest evaluations, kudo's to the folks that built them, maps, links,and photos. Well is the video of the downhill coming?..I want to hear the wind whooshing past the mike....and maybe that new niner groaning in granny

Jul 8, 2009 @ 5:07 PM

3. sir btk said...

damn erol your new bike looks sick

Jul 9, 2009 @ 7:45 AM

4. Hanes said...

Yea...That place is a blast.. We drove up one day on our bike with our ocean lungs and died the first mile. It is a well designed area with some really fast sections. It seemed to me that not that many people ride in that area. We saw no one on the trail all day???
Not Dupont but well worth the drive and a camping weekend with the hellions!

Jul 14, 2009 @ 6:14 AM


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