Photo: Massanutten Resort

This Rural Virginia Mountain Has Some of the Best East Coast Mountain Biking

by Suzie Dundas Jan 9, 2023

Virginia may not be the first place you think of in the US for sweet mountain biking trails, but Massanutten Mountain Bike Park may be just the destination that convinces you otherwise. The mountain resort in the Ridge-and-Valley section of the Appalachian Mountains has two sections of mountain bike park to make everyone happy: a beginner and expert-friendly downhill park served by a ski lift, and a totally separate cross-country park with more than 30 miles of mountain bike trails.

“Something for everyone” may be an overused term, but it’d be pretty hard for a mountain biker to not find something they like at the Massanutten Bike Park.

The downhill bike park

The Massanutten bike park is in north-central Virginia, pretty close to the West Virginia state line. It’s a popular place to go skiing in the winter, so there are plenty of lodging opportunities in the nearby town, as well as at the resort itself. The bike park is usually open from late April to late October, though it depends on weather and snow.

The bike park is divided into two sections, which is something you don’t usually see at downhill mountain bike parks. The first section is the lift-serviced part of the park, where you’ll load your bike onto a modified ski lift and get whisked to the top, instead of having to do any pedaling. The first lift leads to beginner and intermediate trails, which are smooth and generally have minimal pedaling. The second lift leads to advanced and expert trails, including a jump line. The two most advanced trails are steep and rocky and should not be ridden unless you have tons of mountain bike experience.

If you’re just doing to hang out in this section of the park, you’ll want to bring or rent a downhill-oriented mountain bike with at least 170mm or so of travel in the front. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, as this is where you’ll find bike rentals and lessons, and the resort pros can help you find the right bike.

The Western Slope bike area

The Massanutten bike park also includes a much larger area with more of a cross-country style of riding, though there are plenty of downhills if you’d rather just get in laps. The whole area is called the Western Slope Trails and has more than 30 miles of maintained trails, ranging from easy beginner loops to the Western Slope Perimeter 2020 trail, a loop that gains 1,600 feet of vert across chunky, rocky, steep, and loose sections. It’s a blast if you know what you’re doing and hit it fast, but it’ll still be challenging, even for advanced riders.

If you want to do some pedaling but don’t want to spend the whole day slogging uphill, the Massanutten bike park offers shuttle drops around the Western Slope Trails. These trails also connect to the trails of the George Washington National Forest, which has dozens of official and unofficial mountain bike trails. These trails are open year-round, weather pending.

Fees at Massanutten bike park

Massanutten Mountain Bike Park offers bike rentals for visitors who don’t have their own mountain bikes. The rental fleet includes full suspension, hardtail and kids’ bikes, as well as protective gear such as helmets and knee pads. All rentals come with a safety check before they are dispatched to ensure you have the best experience possible. You can also rent e-bikes or sign up for mountain bike lessons or e-bike tours around the forested resort.

A trail pass is required for both sections of the park, but it’s relatively inexpensive compared to famous bike parks like Whistler or Mammoth Mountain. A one-day pass for the Western Slope bike area is $10, or you can get an annual pass by either paying $50 or volunteering a few hours of trail work.

For the downhill bike park, a pass costs $40, and bike rentals start at $55 for four hours, which includes a helmet. You can rent extra protective gear if you want on-site.

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