New River Trail State Park
(updated: Oct 5, 2009)
I'm a mountain biker, who lives by the beach. So when I travel to ride I like to get to the biggest hills I can find because there aren't any where I live. But what about the family? They can't ride the trails I ride. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but if you live in Wilmington like I do, there really is no place to ride with your family free from the threat of cars. This sucks.
So I drove five hours to a place where you can ride and ride and ride with your family on beautiful and scenic trails -- New River Trail State Park, near Galax, VA. There's not much in the area in terms of amenities -- the nearest major city is Roanoke, VA. But that's a good thing. You're deep in Appalachian country.
There's 57 miles of continuous trail to ride here, 39 of which follows the New River, the second oldest river in the world, and one of the few that flow from south to north. There's a lot more info on the official site, so be sure to check it out: Virginia.gov - New River Trail
We camped at the Millrace campground in Foster Falls. This used to be an old town along the railroad. Now it has a horse farm, gift shop, kayak and canoe rentals, and tent camping. There are several other campgrounds to choose from. We were going to stay at the Cliffview Campground but I changed my reservation at the last minute and I'm glad I did, because Millrace has more to do and it's right on the river. It's also more convenient to I-77.
But the drawback to the campsites, and this includes all of them, is that you have to park your car in a lot away from the sites and haul all your stuff in. They do provide carts to facilitate it, but it's still kind of a pain when you have a family and everyone's stuff. But on the other hand it's nice that you don't have cars driving by your campsite all the time.
So we arrived Fri afternoon and set up camp. We made dinner and a campfire. Later, however, it started raining hard. A little bit of water came in the tent, which was expected because the rain fly does not cover the entire tent. It is a huge tent, so there was plenty of room to move closer to the center.
The next morning we made breakfast and then went on a ride. We rode about ten miles and on the way back it started raining. Then it started raining harder. We were muddy and soaked by the time we got back to the campsite. It did not stop raining all day and night. More and more water started coming into the tent. The rain fly failed. The campsite was under two inches of water. The bottom of the tent felt like a water-bed. There was no end in site to the heavy rain. It was time to abandon camp. So we had dinner at a restaurant in Hillsville and stayed at the Quality Inn, which takes pets.
The next day the rain had cleared and the weather was beautiful. We rode from Fries, VA toward Galax. This part of the trail contains the longest bridge and the other tunnel.
When we got home one of the first things we did was order a better tent.
Check the official site or my Trail Info Page to get directions to the park and maps.
I highly recommend this park. It is a great place to take the family.
The campsite. The kid trailer really came in handy for hauling stuff from/to the car.
View from Millrace campground.
Bridge near Austinville, VA
I imagine in another week or so the fall foliage will be spectacular along the trail.
Tunnel before Austinville.
Beautiful area of the country
When the little guy got tired he just hopped in the trailer and I bungee'd his bike on top.
Campsites along the trail from Fries.
The longest bridge, at Fries Junction, toward Gambetta.
The other tunnel, located between Fries Junction and Gambetta on the park map.
Small waterfall along the trail.
The New River after the storm.
Some riding shots.
Luna the trail dog. Part Border Collie, part Golden. She loves to run with us. I'm sure you're supposed to keep dogs leashed but she's just so well behaved and I had the electronic collar on in case.
Very scenic trails with an old farm along the way.
More photos on the photo page.
1. zack said...
looks like a great time and an amazing view
Oct 5, 2009 @ 8:05 AM
2. Ken said...
Oh man I'm going to have to beg for some extra time off before the weather gets too cold. Not much technical riding but the scenery justifies it. Beautiful.
Oct 5, 2009 @ 4:46 PM
3. Shane said...
Another fun, family friendly trail in VA is the Creeper trail. http://www.vacreepertrail.com/
We did it over the summer. Camped in Beartree just above Damascus, VA. Their is a one mile long connector to the Iron mountain trail right out of the campground... a more technical single track trail. We did Iron mountain one day, then shuttled to the top of the Creeper trail the next. Felt kinda silly riding my 5" bike on the creeper trail. Only brought the one though. But the scenery was awesome. Damascus is a great little town too!
Oct 7, 2009 @ 2:30 PM
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