Bike the Valley, Brake for Brews
Posted on April 30, 2018
Eager to indulge your twin passions for biking the Shenandoah Valley and drinking craft beer this spring? Since nothing tastes better than a cold glass of beer when you’re tired and sweaty, we’ve rounded up our favorite routes to get you pedaling in proximity to some of the best breweries around. All you need to do is tune up your bike, celebrate the great outdoors, and work up a serious thirst.
If you get your thrills from trails and hills, the following rides are sure to make your quads burn!
Massanutten’s Mountain Bike Park
30 minutes from Three Notch’d Brewing Company.
For an adventure guaranteed to spike your adrenaline, grab your mountain bike and hurtle down the ski lift-served trails at Massanutten’s Mountain Bike Park. You’ll get the thrills of the downhill without sweating the climbs. The park offers trails for riders of all abilities as well as private lessons. The Pathway Package includes a 75-minute lesson, bike rental and three hours of trail use. The Dirt Groms Package caters to kids ages 9 – 14 with no adults necessary. Experienced riders might choose 4-hour and 8-hour rental and lift ticket options. Don’t forget your action camera!
Rocktown Trails at Hillandale Park
10 minutes from Pale Fire Brewing.
If you’re looking to give your mountain bike a workout in downtown Harrisonburg, check out Rocktown Trails at Hillandale Park. The park’s system of stacked-loop, single track trails offers three levels of difficulty for riders. The easiest route is beginner-friendly, but the loops get more challenging if you’re looking for tougher stuff. The trails, cared for by the Shenandoah Valley Bike Club, stay in great shape and feature manmade and natural obstacles. Be prepared to share this popular area with hikers and runners.
Montgomery Hall Park
5 minutes from Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.
Riders looking for thrills in Staunton need go no further than Montgomery Hall Park, which boasts 4.1 miles of single track laid out in three marked trails. The twisting trails offer switchbacks and roots as well as steep drops and climbs. There’s not much in the way of rock obstacles, but you can still get plenty dirty here. Since the trails are maintained by Staunton Parks and Recreation as well as local riders, they stay in excellent condition.
The Southern Traverse
1 hour and 15 minutes from Bedlam Brewing
Hard-core mountain bikers rave about The Southern Traverse, a 36-mile ride through the Dry River and Deerfield Ranger Districts of George Washington National Forest. This route will blast you with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain, much of it in the first four blistering miles. Once you summit Shenandoah Mountain, there’s an incredible 11-mile single track ride along the ridge, several extremely technical rocky areas, and a thrilling five-mile section that descends over 1,100 feet. The final section of the route follows rolling country roads, so you’ll be able to get your heart rate under control before heading back to town.
For amazing road biking routes in the area, check out Bike the Valley, which maps and details lots of different routes at different distances, appropriate for varying skill levels. Here are some of our favorites:
Waynesboro Dooms Day Loop
3 minutes from Basic City Beer Co.
Because of its distance and limited elevation gain, the Waynesboro Dooms Day Loop (12.5 miles) is considered easy to intermediate. It begins and ends in downtown Waynesboro, but heads out of town following the river for three miles before turning at the Dooms Crossing Railroad stop and returning along the base of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. The second half of this ride is mostly gentle downhill, but you’ll still deserve a beer treat for finishing.
Staunton Frog Pond Smoky Row
1 minute from Redbeard Brewing Company.
For an intermediate ride, try the 22-mile Staunton Frog Pond Smoky Row route. It starts in Staunton but quickly leaves to embrace the rolling hills and spectacular scenery west and south of town. The loop offers sustained climbs, downhill glides, and recovery sections. The ride, which is entirely on paved roads, concludes back in Staunton.
Buena Vista – Blue Ridge Parkway
20 minutes from Great Valley Farm Brewery.
If you’re serious about earning your beer, take on the challenge of the Buena Vista – Blue Ridge Parkway ride and its 4,000-foot plus elevation gain. This route is considered difficult due to its relentless hills and 45-mile length, and you’ll earn major bragging rights if you complete it. Starting in Buena Vista, you’ll quickly begin the arduous task of hauling human and bike four miles up to the crest of the Blue Ridge. Don’t celebrate the end of your workout yet, however, because the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway has serious hills of its own. When it’s time to come down, you’ll be descending a very steep and twisty road to Vesuvius. The grade is steeper than 20% in places, but the final few miles back to town are relatively gentle. Though demanding, this ride is also extremely beautiful. Make sure you enjoy the view, especially along the parkway.
Biking with the Family
If you’re looking for a family outing that will please even the youngest members of your crew, try one of these easy, family-friendly rides.
Chessie Nature Trail
5 minutes from Devils Backbone Outpost.
Originally a railroad bed for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, the flat Chessie Nature Trail stretches for 7.2 miles between Lexington and Buena Vista and is great for riders of all ages and abilities. The route has parking at both ends and can be completed as a longer out-and-back ride. It follows the Maury River and the rural surroundings alternate between wooded areas and farmland. The final mile near Buena Vista parallels a steep cliff along the river. Look for cows and wildlife along the way.
South River Greenway
10 minutes from Seven Arrows Brewing.
The South River Greenway trail system will one day connect Waynesboro’s Constitution Park with Ridgeview Park and eventually the Crozet Tunnel. For now, the trail stretches for 1.2 miles along the South River and connects Constitution Park with the YMCA. The short ride is flat and paved, and the scenery provides interest as it varies from river to industrial to park, making it suitable for even the youngest of cyclists. You can park at either end of the Greenway.
The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail pairs the craft beer experience with a combination of activities and attractions that uniquely reflect the region’s recreational and cultural activities. Trail updates and news can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.