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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm quickly putting together a mid-April mountain biking trip with my two kids, age 9 and 12. Coming from New England, we're looking for something a little warmer, so I thought we'd drive south, stop for a night at the grandparents in Maryland, and then continue into western Virginia/West Virginia.

Key points:
  • Kids have been mountain biking for about a year, so easier trails are better
  • Fast and flowy is preferred over steep and technical
  • We're riding hardtails (I'm on a singlespeed).
  • 3-4 riding days total
  • 1-3 hour rides once or twice each day
  • Would prefer to car camp nearby, but hotels/motels fine too.
  • Can drive to trail head, but would prefer to bike there
  • Someplace with other fun kid things to do would be ideal

I am happy to drive a bit, if you tell me there is some incredible gem like Raystown Lake further south! Boy, I love that place!

I saw a thread that recommended arrowhead trails near Fayetteville, WV as fast and flowy. Anywhere else we should be looking, either specific trails or mountain biking areas -- perhaps Carvins Cove in Roanoke?

Also -- and this is lower down on the wish-list -- are there any lift-assisted trails in VA/MD/WV that would be open to bikes by mid-April? We've never done that and thought it could be a fun diversion for a day, as long as there were beginner trails available and not just crazy downhill stuff...

Thanks for your help!
 

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You could have a lot of fun at Schaeffer Farms in Germantown, Maryland. No camping nearby that I am aware of, but it's a nice, fairly non-threatening trail system that has something for everyone. Also, Rosaryville State Park in Upper Malboro is very kid friendly (not at all technical) and will also allow you to really open up the throttle if you want. However, RSP is further to the east so it'd take you out of your way.

In VA, I'm not sure what the flow situation is like out there in the western part of the state as everyone usually goes to the tech hotspot of Elizabeth Furnace. Bryce Mountain has some really fun lift-accessible trails that kids would enjoy (namely the green run Sundowner and the blue runs of Brew Thru and Screwdriver) but it gets into more technical or DH oriented from there. Unfortunately, I don't think they're opening up until mid-May or early June.

Northern VA has a lot of really flowy stuff. Fountainhead might be too much for newer kid riders, but nearby Meadowood is a fun trail, albeit short in length (~5 miles or so). Meadowood has the very fun Yard Sale trail, which is a pump/jump trail. All of the obstacles can be safely rolled over though, so kids and shredders alike can enjoy it. There's also Wakefield, which has some pretty fun lines. All of those spots have the benefit of being close to the Beltway, so it's not at all difficult to get back on 66 for your journey west.

Good luck and have fun! You may also want to pop onto the Mid-Atlantic Off-road Enthusiasts (MORE) page at more-mtb.org for other suggestions- that organization has been responsible for the building and maintenance of a lot of those aforementioned trails.
 

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Aside from Massanutten for the Yee-Ha DH race, the parks will all be closed in mid-April around here. FWIW, as Pantsless mentioned, Bryce is really the only lift-access bike park that has a lot of "beginner friendly" trails in the mid-Atlantic. Wisp in western MD would be a close second though.

If you are looking to camp/ride anywhere in northern VA, Lake Fairfax will be your only place to do that. Lots of kid stuff to do there too.

Lake Fairfax Park - Fairfax County, Virginia
 

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You'd have fun at Carvins. With kids that age, I'd propose this route:
Road to Cove Entrance > Songbird > Fire Rd > Little Bell > Fire Road (around the back of the lake to the top of Schoolhouse) > Schoolhouse > Enchanted Forest > Lower Comet > Road back to parking lot

It is an 8-10 mile loop that would take about a 1.5-2 hrs depending on the kids' endurance. It is pretty scenic in places and will take you beside the lake and several nice stream crossings. If your kids still have legs left, there would be plenty of additional trails to extend the ride as well, but all the others would involve at least a moderate climb.
 

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If you are taking I-95 down, Delaware has some great flowy single track. White Clay Creek, Middle Run, Judge Morris (the trails all connect together). Not very technical, but very fun. Great place to ride SS as well.

I think White Clay Creek has campgrounds, but since I only live a few minutes away I've never actually camped there. There are several hotel options that would put you within a 10 minute drive. You could bike from a couple of the hotels, but it wouldn't be a straight shot, would add about 7 miles each way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Please keep them coming!

We'll be on I-81. I try to avoid I-95/NYC/NJ Turnpike like the plague :eekster: Carvins sounds promising! And Meadowood sounds awesome -- none of us have ever been on a pump track before. I will research more.
Sounds like lift-accessed riding is out this time of year. Oh well. The Germantown, MD ride is a great tip. Thanks!

Any thoughts on the Narrowback Mountain Loop near Harrisonburg, VA (with camping at Todd Lake)? I wonder if the climb is too much for the kids...but the descent sounds great.
 

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To echo Schaeffer Farms, there is some camping that's a few miles north of there called Little Bennett. There is also some riding there and also two another parks called Black Hills and Seneca Creek that could give you a few days of riding some fun, not too technical trails with the kids. And they did connect them all with trails.

Patapsco St. Park is another option. That does have camping in the park with riding alll over. While you can hit some technical stuff, there are sections where you could stay and do some fun loops. There are a couple different sections you could visit too including the Skills Park that was built a couple of years ago. Check it out here Rockburn Skills Park - Home

Good luck!
 

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No Camping in White Clay, Judge Morris, Middle Run or Fair Hill.

Elk Neck in Northeast MD has @ 12 miles of good draining singletrack and camping, and is within driving distance of Fair Hill, White Clay and Middle Run.
If you are taking I-95 down, Delaware has some great flowy single track. White Clay Creek, Middle Run, Judge Morris (the trails all connect together). Not very technical, but very fun. Great place to ride SS as well.

I think White Clay Creek has campgrounds, but since I only live a few minutes away I've never actually camped there. There are several hotel options that would put you within a 10 minute drive. You could bike from a couple of the hotels, but it wouldn't be a straight shot, would add about 7 miles each way.
 

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RE Narrowback: it is a longish climb, but fairly friendly grade fireroad. You could always park at the bottom and just climb up Tighlman West if you are worried about the young folks ability to make it. Massenuttens Western Dlope would also be an option, but it is private and would need to secure a pass before riding there.
 

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In MD, like others have said, there is camping at Patapsco. Rockburn and the Howard County side of Patapsco (same side of the river as Rockburn) will be more in line with what you are looking for kid wise. Camping and cabins in the park.

Schaeffer, as mentioned is another good choice, as is the Seneca Greenway, both close to Little Bennett camping. Fairland is another option, closest camping is probably at Patapsco or a urban campground in the College Park area.

If you are heading for 81 from the Northeast, check Salisbury trails near Allentown PA. There's also Rattling Creek near Harrisburg PA off of 81 which has some tech but more flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In Roanoke now. Rode Schaeffer Farm yesterday, Preddy Creek this morning. Then we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which a much younger me bicycled its length nearly 20 years ago. Looking forward to riding Carvins Cove tomorrow (and maybe Sunday too).

Thanks for all of the suggestions. It's been a great road trip.
 
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