Lots of great photos to give you a good idea of what riding here is like!
When you’re choosing a place to mountain bike, you can’t go wrong with picking a trail system that’s the site of a big national race. That usually indicates you’ll find good facilities, good signage, up-to-date maps, and some wicked good riding.
Such is the case with Big Bear Lake, a recreational area spread over 1,000 acres in the beautiful woodlands of northeastern West Virginia. The park is host to the “24 Hours of Big Bear” race each June. Granny Gear Productions sponsors six 24 hour races across the country each year (West Virginia, Utah, California, Vermont, Georgia, and Missouri).
The West Virginia race used to take place at Canaan Valley, moved to Snowshoe for a year, but now seems to have found a permanent home at Big Bear Lake. The 2006 race was a wild success, and 2007 race is planned for June 9-10.
Due to the hard work of a dedicated group of local mountain bike riders, the trails at Big Bear Lake are well designed and well maintained. A key factor that certainly ups the enjoyment meter at Big Bear is the layout of the trails, which feature four distinct color-coded loops that range in mileage from 8 to 21 miles. This allows a rider to pick a route that best suits his fitness level and riding skills.
When you check in, you receive a clear, up-to-date, easy-to-read map. The trails are also very well marked with colored arrows on signs and trees. This allows even the most directionally challenged individuals to navigate the trail system without getting lost.
You’ll enjoy the variety of riding experiences you’ll have on the trails. It’s almost as if the trail designers tried to take everything that’s good about West Virginia mountain bike riding and incorporate all those characteristics into one place. The ODT riding group chose the Yellow Loop because it had a good intermediate mileage factor (12 miles) and had a variety of features, including a few climbs, large embedded rocks, tight tree-hugging slaloms, challenging rock gardens, and a few off-the-saddle downhills.
Big Bear is not a state park, so there’s different vibe. Not bad, just different. It’s geared more towards family entertainment, rather than just showcasing the natural environment or attracting trail enthusiasts. There’s mini-golf, water slides on the lake, and a video game room. They allow snow mobiling in the winter. And if your inner hillbilly is dying to get out, you can partake in the country music hoe down at the Big Bear Community Center every Saturday evening. Yeehaw!
But although there are plenty of other entertainment options at Big Bear other than the trails, the place draws more mountain bikers than anything else, especially with 25,000 students located just down the road at West Virginia University. Be prepared to pay $5 each at the gate, and to sign a waiver form that clears the owners in case you break your neck.