5 smooth, easy biking trails for a family ride in WV

 

For a lot of us, learning to ride a bike was the first unabashed freedom that we experienced as kids– we probably all remember the first time we were able to pedal on our own without training wheels.  

If you think something like mountain biking is just too extreme for the kids, well, you’re in for a pleasant surprise! All the trails on this list are perfect for family fun.

We’ve listed them in order, easiest first, so you know which are best for your kids. The first 3 are appropriate in small doses for even the toddlers on balance bikes, and the last 2 are more mountainous, better suited for the older kids. All are beginner-level rides, but use your best judgement about how far you go!

1. Meadow River Trail (Nallen)

Starting at the head of the Meadow River Gorge in Nallen, you will be treated to tunnel-like foliage, plentiful swimming holes, and a nice easy grade on this old rail trail. If you make it all the way down below the Route 19 bridge, you’ll encounter a cool old tunnel. Make sure you save energy for the ride back to the trailhead, it’s steeper than it looks!

2. Cranberry Tri-rivers Trail (Richwood)

Like the Meadow River Trail, this is a rail trail, meaning that it travels along an old railroad grade. Rail trails can also be excellent for family fun, since they never get too steep or windy.

The full 16 miles of this trail travel along the Cranberry, Cherry and Gauley rivers, and the first 3 miles from Richwood are gravel. Expect to see beautiful foliage, waterfalls, rivers and a 640-foot-long railroad tunnel that you’ll need headlamps for!

3. Greenbrier River Trail (Eastern WV)

The full 78 miles of this moderate rail-trail may be a bit much for family fun (unless your family loves multi-day bikepacking or long endurance days). But with multiple access points along the beautiful Greenbrier River at Lewisburg, Renick and Marlinton, this trail gives you a lot of options. Its 1% grade and hard-packed gravel make it accessible for almost all skill levels and most bike types.  

4. Clovis Loop, Arrowhead Bike Trails (Fayetteville)

The Arrowhead mountain bike loops, located on the rim of the New River Gorge, are an exciting addition as mountain biking gradually increases in popularity in West Virginia. Designed by a professional mountain bike course developer and constructed with help from the National Park Service and Boy Scouts of America, these courses of various skill levels have become fixtures for local and visiting mountain bikers.

The easiest of these trails, called the Clovis Loop, is a perfect introduction for kids looking to get into mountain biking, with banked curves and small jumps. Special bonus: if you want to check out the latest in mountain bike gear, you can rent it at the nearby and recently opened Arrowhead Bike Farm.

5. Gauley Mountain Trail (Slaty Fork)

If you’re looking for a great introduction to mountain biking for the older kids– rail-trail grades with single track widths, obstacles, and yes, mud puddles– the Gauley Mountain Trail is the one for you. This is not a sculpted, banked trail like the Clovis Loop; there is plenty of adventure to be had, and sometimes the going is slow. But there are still enough downhill sections to reward the kids for their hard work with a fun, windy whoosh!

Which of these family-friendly trails have you been on?

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This post was last updated on October 19, 2017