North Fork Mountain Trail - Mountain Biking

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About

Summary

Located between the iconic Spruce Knob and Seneca Rocks in West Virginia, the North Fork Mountain Trail is the premier mountain biking trail in West Virginia, and one of the best on the East Coast.

Written by

Joe DeGaetano

Distance

24.0 miles

The trail is 24 miles point to point.

Destination Distance From Downtown

111.2 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 diamonds

This 24-mile trail is remote and requires a moderate/advanced level of fitness and skill to navigate. There are lots of rocks and high-speed descending.

Time To Complete

5 hours

Fast bikers can get this trail done in less than 4 hours, but most riders will want 5 hours to finish it up considering the technical difficulties, length, and ample overlooks to stop and check out the views.

Seasonality

Spring, Summer, and Fall

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) designates certain trails as “Epics” and it just so happens that the North Fork Mountain Trail (NFMT) is one of those. Located between Spruce Knob WV and Seneca WV, two of the best outdoor destinations in WV themselves, the NFMT is arguably the best mountain bike trail in the state.

The NFMT travels across a rugged ridge that at times resembles the spine of a Stegosaurus with the amount of rocks that litter the trail. This trail embodies mountain biking with a perfect combination of adventure, adrenaline, endurance, and technical challenges.

What Makes It Great

Along the 24-mile NFMT, you will find breathtaking views of the Potomac River valley, Spruce Knob, the Dolly Sods Wilderness, and the stunning Seneca Rocks escarpment. Throughout the trail, you can stop off at several overlooks for a snack. There are also several side trails that are worthy of exploration, and even some that lead to hidden overlooks and unique quartzite rock formations that are reminiscent of western canyon country.

Most of the riding follows flowy singletrack and doubletrack with fun options to swoop between berms on the sides of the trail. Once you reach the rocky section of trail, be ready to pay more attention. Some rock gardens will require raw speed to get through and others will require a technical approach, where you’ll only earn passage through the perfect line choice and the combination of body English and brake control. Some of the rocks are pretty big, and the truly brave will look for those perfect rocks to wheelie up on and pop off of.

Just as you get used to the rugged ride and start to look for the next technical stretch of rocks, the trail starts to descend into one of the best downhills in West Virginia. The next 3 miles will have you whooping and hollering as you let it rip down to the bottom.

Who is Going to Love It

The NFMT is a pretty big undertaking, and you should have at least a moderate level of experience to tackle this ride. At 24 miles, most average mountain bikers can get this done in 5 hours or less, which gives you a buffer if you need to rest or refuel along the way.

Just about everyone loves the NFMT. The trail is one of the driest runs in the state with virtually no boggy terrain. The climbs are fairly moderate for a big ride like this and the flat sections are very flowy with very little trail resistance at times, and at other times quite engaging and a good lesson in proper line choice. Then let’s not forget the last downhill. After all, who doesn’t like soaring down a smooth trail with a few choice options to carve berms and hit jumps?

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

You can ride the NFMT in either direction but it’s better to start at the Southern terminus near Judy Gap on WV-33. Drop 1 vehicle at the end of the trail at Smoke Hole Road (WV-28/11) and drop the other at the hairpin pull-off on WV-33, near the start of the trail. Pack some extra water before you head out. There’s not much water access on this trail.

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Location

North Fork South Branch Potomac River

38.570438, -79.570432

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