Explore Virginia’s best backcountry riding on unpaved and touring routes. From the beautiful countryside of the Shenandoah Valley to Virginia’s loftiest vistas, the TransVirginia Route takes the road less traveled. The backroads, remote national forests, and two of Virginia’s most popular rail trails offer a variety of challenging climbs with diverse landscapes and communities and fascinating natural and historical sites.
We’ll be on gravel right away along cascading mountain streams lined with blooming rhododendrons. We’ll climb up to Mountain Lake where you can enjoy the mountaintop view from Wind Rock Overlook or visit the Mountain Lake Lodge, where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed, then go back into the valley for a leisurely ride along the banks of the New River on the famous New River Trail. We’ll jump back into the mountains one more time before hitting a bucket list rail trial, the Virginia Creeper Trail, inducted to the Rail Trail Hall of Fame in 2014.
An adventure this beautiful, diverse, and challenging can only be described as Epic. Discover the path less traveled in Virginia’s amazing backcountry and make some memories on this amazing adventure.
"This was our first tour, but it won't be our last!"
Day 1. Abingdon to Millboro, Virginia, 0 miles
Today we will meet you in Abingdon and shuttle three hours north to Douthat State Park. Abingdon is a wonderful mountain town with lots to do. You may want to consider coming early to take in a show at the Barter Theatre or visit the Martha Washington Inn, nearby White's Mill, or the wonderful Saturday morning farmers markets. Abingdon has great food, too. It has been named "Best Small Town Food Scene" by USA Today two years in a row. Our first overnight, Douthat State Park is known for its hiking and mountain biking trails as well as trout fishing in the Wilson Creek or bass fishing in Douthat Lake.
Day 2. Millboro to Paint Bank, 46 miles
As soon as you leave beautiful Douthat State Park, you will be on the TransVirginia Route that stretches from Washington, DC, to Damascus, Virginia. In the first 15 miles, we will experience a three-mile section of rugged national forest road that gives way to a wonderful eight miles of improved gravel roads along a cascading stream, then up and over the mountain into Covington along the James River. Quietly traveled paved roads will lead us to the National Children's Forest, dedicated in 1972, where children replanted a forest devastated by fire. Eight more miles of very nice national forest road will lead us to our campsite along Potts Creek, a beautiful trout stream.
Day 3. Paint Bank to Eggleston, 39 miles
Today is an absolutely beautiful ride on mostly paved roads through the scenic Potts Creek valley. Just three miles from camp, you can visit Paint Bank, a land time (almost) forgot. See the historic depot that has been converted to a lodge, the Tingler Mill, the Paint Bank General Store, and maybe enjoy a delicious meal at the Swinging Bridge Restaurant. I bet you never thought you would see bison in Virginia, but you will ride right past them early in the morning. In fact, you have a good chance of spotting a bear and certainly lots of deer as we venture into West Virginia for 13 miles. Our eight miles of gravel takes us up to the Mountain Lake Wilderness Area. We will cross the Appalachian Trail, where you can take a short walk to the famed Wind Rock Overlook with its vast view of the valley. Mountain Lake Lodge, one of the filming locations for the movie Dirty Dancing, would be a great place for lunch. We finish our day descending into the New River valley where we camp along the river at Eggleston Springs Campground.
Day 4. Eggleston to Foster Falls, 56 miles
Today is two-thirds gravel, and a whole lot of fun. We will have paved sections interspersed as we make our way to the New River Trail, a 57-mile crushed limestone trail that follows the historic New River for 39 miles with two tunnels and 30 picturesque smaller bridges and trestles. We will spend the night along the river at Foster Falls Camp where you can enjoy treats or gifts at the store, take advantage of the canoe or horse livery, or visit the nearby historic Shot Tower, a 75-foot tower where ammunition was made 200 years ago.
Day 5. Foster Falls to Fries, 46 miles
Only eight miles of pavement today as we finish riding the rest of the New River Trail. We will even take a side trip on a trail extension to Galax, the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and home to the historic Rex Theatre and the Old Time Bluegrass Fiddlers Convention. Explore its quaint shops and enjoy some amazing barbeque at the Smokehouse. You may even catch some local pickin'! We will conclude our day of enjoyment with a climb out of the valley to our mountaintop destination, Sunrise Cabin, where we can sit on the porch and watch the sunset.
Day 6. Fries to Sugar Grove, 49 miles
Our most challenging day only has 13 miles of gravel. As we climb into the Mount Rogers Recreation Area, a 200,000-acre national forest with four designated wilderness areas and free-ranging ponies, expect to see luscious forests, rhododendrons, cascading streams, rock formations, and towering hemlocks. Our last night of the tour will be at Hurricane Campground, deep in the beautiful, secluded backcountry.
Day 7. Sugar Grove to Abingdon, 58 miles
We have saved a treat for the last day: 45 miles of the funnest gravel anywhere. After climbing to Whitetop on the highest paved road in Virginia, we begin a 17-mile descent to Damascus on the Rail Trail Hall of Fame Virginia Creeper Trail. Damascus is called Trail Town USA because the Appalachian Trail, the TransAm Trail, and the Creeper all converge on this quaint mountain town. Trail Days will be underway in Damascus, so be sure to check out all the festivities and meet some of the A.T. thru-hikers. We'll continue on the Creeper along beautiful Laurel Creek and through scenic farmland eventually reaching Abingdon, where it all began.
Know before you go
Please consider the terrain, and road surface, when preparing for this unique mountain tour. Portions of the tour require riding on rough, challenging, backcountry unpaved roads that are unsuitable for a road bike. Bicycles that can accommodate 42mm tires or larger are recommended. You can expect substantial climbing with some grades up to 18%. The recommended gearing is 23 gear inches or lower.