Tell me about the Canaan Mountain Loop Road
Have any of yins done this? I plan on doing it in a couple weeks and was wondering how long it might take. Any other highlights along the trail?
This is a GREAT area to ride bikes! any bikes. I’ve been down there for some wild mountain biking (plantation trail), road riding up and down and all around, and “West Virginia road riding” (‘cross bikes on forest roads or county roads, including the loop road). Are you referring to the loop that goes from Davis, through Blackwater falls, then to 32 near Canaan Heights? If you want to extend the ride a little you can add nearby Cortland Rd. off of 32. It’s just a little loop, all paved. Route 32 is a higher speed road but has wide shoulders for most of it and we have never had any problems riding there. The loop road is pretty rough between Blackwater falls and about the midpoint of the loop. We had ‘cross bikes but there are some stream crossings, serious rocks, ruts, and holes. They call it a road but only high-clearance vehicles can pass those few miles. The rest of it is more like a fire road with smooth gravel. I would suggest stopping to see Lindy Point. It is just back from Blackwater falls as the road turns to gravel. There is a small area for cars to park then you have a trail about a mile or so to through the woods to get to the lookout. It’s worth it. Just past that parking area is where the trail begins to get rough. If there has been heavy rain it will be pretty mushy. There are plenty of places to camp there but if you’re looking for a room I would recommend the Bright Morning Inn. It’s right in Davis next to Blackwater Bikes and has a fantastic breakfast. Jake McCrea is the better navigator but I am also happy to offer any further details you may want about riding in the area.
Thanks, Kelw! Im thinking of following This route. I’m looking to stick to dirt and gravel as much as possible. I’ll be on a ss 26er and my buddy on a ss 29er so we wont be setting any speed records. I’ll look into lindy. there is a link on that site above. I’m thinking of camping in blackwater state park . Any experience with that?
Ooh, it mentions table rock. I forgot about that part. It’s just about at the far point of the loop and is about a mile-long trail to another beautiful view. You can ride back that trail with mountain bikes if you’re up for some serious rocks. We rode that trail as the tail end of the plantation trail, which pretty much rides along the ridge in the center of the loop road then crosses it to continue to table rock. Plantation also has multiple crossing trails that connect to the loop so if you feel like extending your ride you have plenty of rocky, fun options. I have camped at Canaan valley state park and stayed at three different bed and breakfasts but never Blackwater falls. I have a small trailer that we take when “camping” and really like the setup and location at Canaan for what we usually do. i have never really looked into camping at Blackwater falls but it looks nice enough and is a perfect location for your plan. You could also just pitch a tent at many places along the loop road. I don’t know if there are any regulations but it seems that anything goes there. Camp where you’d like, unless you want a campground with showers and other nice things.
If you have time be sure to stop at Hellbender’s for a Goofyfoot burrito!
This is great info. I love it down that way but I have never biked down there.
When down that way you must go to the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. Ridiculous collection of microbrews, music, top notch food.
It’s funny yins mention the purple fiddle and hellbenders… both of those are on our itinerary. we’re going to hit the purple fiddle on the way in friday for a celebratory beer and some hippy food. then hit hellbenders for a post ride burrito before heading over to the seneca valley to set up shop for some climbing.
i got a mtb guide from 1995 that include many of the cross trails inside the loop. looks like lots of interesting stuff going on in that backcountry. i also came across a now defunct race called the 24 hours of canaan that sounded awesome. if only i was down there a decade ago…
I agree that Purple Fiddle is somewhere you MUST go. They have live music just about every night and it’s often really good.
WVMBA still has some races in the area, although not a 24 hour race. Seven springs has a pretty fun 24 hour race on labor day weekend each year. It comes with a tent city, lots of beer drinkers mixed with lots of serious racers. Or you could do the revenge of the rattlesnake race (at least I think that’s what it’s called). It’s held on the loop road, plantation trail, and all those intersecting trails. Yes, all of it in 1 race. No thanks. It would probably take me 24 hours to do but if you want punishment then that’s the race for you.
Nearby, the Blackwater Canyon trail is a gravel trail that follows an old railroad grade from Thomas (near Blackwater Falls) to Hendricks, losing 1300 feet. I’ve done it on a touring bike with 38mm tires but a mountain bike or cyclocross bike might be better. Someone’s pictures here: http://www.wvbike.org/bct/virtual.html . Many waterfalls.
it has been a while –
Assuming that he is still around you should stop in Davis, and try to find Laird Knight. Ask around at Blackwater Bikes.
He used to run the Canaan Mountain Bike Race series (I have no idea if he still does this or is even in the area, it has been decades since I raced down there).
If you can find him, or someone else who still has the maps (I don’t), the “Original 40k” loop is amazing, and the 24 hour loop (in and around the Blackwater swamp NOT the course in/on the ski resort) was pretty nice too.
Hell, if Laird is still there – he maybe willing to take you around!
Oh.. and after you finish your ride – go a bit north(?) and stop in for a swim at Lake Storm. Kept heated year round by the coal fired electric plant.
Man, I keep forgetting to ride that road. The RR Grade trail actually connects down to Canaan Valley SP – which has a good campground with hot showers. Never camped in Blackwater Falls SP though. There are some backpacking shelters in the woods that are marked on the “Adventure Map”. There is a hostel in Thomas that the Purple Fiddle runs.
Also, across from the Hellbender place is Sirianni’s pizza. Try the garlic chips, they do not dissappoint.
I have only been back riding a week. I am still tempted to take off and ride that route before the bugs come out. Great area!
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