Seneca State Forest - Mountain Biking

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Summary

If you are looking for quintessential West Virginia mountain biking that is great for beginners, group rides, and families, you will want to visit Seneca State Forest.

Written by

Carolyne Whelan

Distance

23.0 miles

With 23 miles of trail, this park has plenty to explore. If you don’t have much time, stay close to the trails around Seneca Lake. But if you have time, take a longer out-and-back ride along the Allegheny Trail.

Destination Distance From Downtown

92.7 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

Most of the riding in Seneca State Forest is good for beginner riders, but a few technical sections, short climbs, descents, and (depending on the weather) wet rocks and roots, make parts of this park waver between interesting and technical.

Time To Complete

2 hours

There are enough trails to spend a whole afternoon pedaling around the park, enjoying vistas and communing with nature.

Seasonality

All Seasons

The park is open year round, but in the winter, the trails may be too snowy or icy for riding.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs are welcome in the park, as long as they are on leashes that do not exceed 10 feet in length. For mountain bikers camping in the park, many cabins and campsites allow dogs. More information can be found here: http://www.wvstateparks.com/petpolicy.htm

Fees Permits

No

Land Website

Seneca State Forest

Review

Intro

Seneca State Forest is nestled near Spruce Knob, Watoga State Park, and George Washington National Forest along the eastern border of West Virginia. In addition to fishing, camping, hiking, and swimming, there is a wide range of mountain biking trails for different skill levels. Trail conditions vary from paved, vehicle-restricted roads to expert singletrack. There are plenty of chances for you to drop in or out of the technical stuff or pause for a moment to enjoy West Virginia’s wild, wonderful scenery. Since the park has about 23 miles of trails, plus the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail , you can cycle through for a few hours, or you can take your time to enjoy the plants and animals in this remote, natural setting.

What Makes It Great

If you’re looking for quintessential West Virginia mountain biking that is great for beginners, group rides, and families, you will want to visit Seneca State Forest. Faster riders will appreciate the rocky and rooty sections, as well as the rolling hills, which not only offer great views, but also a challenging workout if you want to push yourself. Slower riders won’t be left in the dust, though, and you may catch glimpses of deer, turkey, and smaller wildlife (as well as the occasional shy bear), since animals are less inclined to scuttle off into the brush when slower-moving cyclists pass by.

In addition to wildlife, the swooping hills offer plenty of opportunity to catch a great view while you catch your breath. The river to the east of the park is a place way to cool off in the summer or relax during the colder seasons when you can enjoy the water’s peacefulness.

If you are on a shorter time schedule, try riding this figure eight: Start at the office buildings and head straight onto Hill Top Trail until it turns into Fire Tower Trail. At the crossroads, turn right onto Allegheny Trail for a gradual grade with nice vistas. At the shelter, continue right onto Thorny Creek Trail, which has a variety of trail features that range from intermediate to expert. Follow this trail past the lake, and it will loop around the bottom of the park before heading back toward the office building and parking area. Either break off the trail early and complete the ride on Little Mountain Trail, or follow Thorny Creek Trail and finish off the ride on the scenic Scarlet Oak Trail.

While you can ride this park in an afternoon, if you want to make a weekend of it, there are plenty of lodging options, from rustic tent sites to upscale cabins along the river and by the lake. Dogs can join the fun, too, as long as they’re on a leash at all times.

Who is Going to Love It

While there are a variety of trails at Seneca State Forest, intermediate riders will come out on top in this park. You will be challenged to develop your skills (like descending over rocky creek crossings) while you pack on some extra mileage. There are plenty of opportunities to climb both short, punchy singletrack hills and moderate grades of fireroad climbs.

There are plenty of trails for beginners and experts, too, so feel free to bring all your buddies along for a group ride or weekend camping adventure. Groups can split off, then join up at the next juncture, which is usually just .25-mile up the trail.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

State Road 28 goes right through the park, directly to the parking area. You can access SR-28 by Route 1, 92, or 13. There is parking at the picnic area or the lake, but the official trailhead parking is just down Michael Mountain Road, on the Rich Patch Loop Trail. Check the map of the park to plan your route.

The park is open year round and has camping, fishing, swimming, and hiking. The swimming hole is along the river.

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Location

Seneca State Forest

10135 Browns Creek Road
Dunmore, WV, 24934-9062
38.342002, -79.896538

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