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Mountain Biking in the Chesapeake region

For a true outdoor adventure, we can’t think of a better activity than mountain biking. Across the Chesapeake region, there are dozens of destinations where you can get dirty and have a blast on your bike.

Hit the trails at places like Patapsco Valley State Park, Pocahontas State Park, and Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks, where mountain bikers of all levels can sharpen their skills while discovering some of the Chesapeake’s best hidden natural areas.

Whether you’re a beginner mountain biker or an expert off-roader, you’ll have an exciting time exploring woods, mountains, streams, and valleys by bike. Cruise under towering trees at Gunpowder Falls State Park, or twist along the endless singletracks at Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area. You may encounter a few roots and rocks along the way, but that’s part of what makes mountain biking an adventure!

  • If you’re new to mountain biking, pick a place with wide, flat trails where you can practice your off-road cycling skills. Head to the sandy, scenic waterfront trail at First Landing State Park or the wide gravel roads at Patuxent Research Refuge. When you’re ready to try singletracking, bring your bike to the wooded loops through Cedarville State Forest.
  • Ready for a challenge? The Chesapeake has loads of those, too! Fly by rocks down the steep trails at Gambrill State Park. Go west in Virginia to find Douthat State Park, which offers so many fantastic loops and mountain trails that it’s been called a “mountain biker’s Disneyland.”

Get ready for a thrilling cycling adventure at the top places for mountain biking. (Hint: They’re not all mountains!)

Cedarville State Forest

Cedarville State Forest

The Cedarville State Forest is more that 3,500 acres of protected lands encompassing the headwaters of the Zekiah Swamp, Maryland forests, and agricultural lands.

Brandywine, MD

Codorus State Park

Codorus State Park

Lake Marburg, which predominates the park, has 26 miles of shoreline and is a reststop for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The lake is also popular with sailboaters, motorboaters, and anglers.

Hanover, PA

Conway Robinson Memorial State Forest

Conway Robinson Memorial State Forest

This 444-acre forest is a mixture of pine and old growth hardwood stands in Prince William County of Virginia, adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield and Route 29.

Gainesville, VA

Douthat State Park

Douthat State Park

Douthat State park is nestled in the Allegheny Mountains and features some of Virginia’s most outstanding scenery. In addition, a 50-acre lake offers swimming, boating and seasonal trout fishing.

Millboro, VA

Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area

Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area

Fair Hill is a 5,656 acre Natural Resources Management Area, is known for its pristine fields, woodlands and natural beauty. Fair Hill's attractions include the turf course, where horse races are held.

Elkton, MD

Footbridge to Beach at First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is located near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay close to the spot where Captain John Smith landed in 1607. First Landing is Virginia's most popular state park with over a million visitors each year.

Virginia Beach, VA

Gambrill State Park

Gambrill State Park

Gambrill State Park is a beautiful mountain park, located on the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County. Its most popular feature is the 16 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Frederick, MD

Green Ridge State Forest

Green Ridge State Forest

Green Ridge State Forest is the second largest of Maryland's State Forests consisting of a 46,000-acre oak-hickory forest. It is located in eastern Allegany County, approximately eight miles east of Flintstone off I-68 at Exit 64.

Flintstone, MD

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park protects the stream valleys of the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. The long, narrow 18,000 acre park ranges from tidal marshes and wetlands near the Bay to steep, rugged slopes upstream.

Middle River, MD

Jones Falls Trail

Jones Falls Trail

The trail parallels the Jones Falls River and passes by a number of historic mills, the scenic overlook at Round Falls and the Baltimore Street Car Museum.

Baltimore, MD

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley includes five developed recreational areas, providing hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park's many popular pavilions.

Ellicott City, MD

Patuxent Research Refuge

Patuxent Research Refuge

The Patuxent Research Refuge is the nation's only National Wildlife Refuge established to support wildlife research. Tour portions of 12,000 acres along the upper Patuxent River, and a visitor center on regional and national wildlife.

Laurel, MD

Kayakers at Pocahontas State Park

Pocahontas State Park

Deep in the heart of a thick forest in Chesterfield County, Pocahontas State Park is only about 20 miles from downtown Richmond, Virginia's capital. Pocahontas State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities.

Chesterfield, VA

Mount Airy Mansion / Rosaryville State Park

Rosaryville State Park

Rosaryville is a 982 acre day-use park and the location of the historic Mount Airy Mansion. Miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrians are available for day use.

Upper Marlboro, MD

Seneca Creek State Park

Seneca Creek State Park

The park, comprised of 6,300 acres, extends along 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek. The Clopper Day-Use Area contains many scenic areas, including the 90-acre Clopper Lake, surrounded by forests and fields.

Gaithersburg, MD

Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park

Located just down stream from Bentonville, the park boasts over five miles of frontage on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The park consists of pastures, forests and vistas of the mountains and the river.

Bentonville, VA

Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area - Lonecellotheory/Flickr

Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Enjoy spectacular scenery and outstanding outdoor recreation at the headwaters of the Potomac River.

Seneca Rocks, WV

St. Mary's River State Park

St. Mary’s River State Park

Situated at the northern end of the St. Mary's River watershed, the park shows a wide range of habitats, from wooded acres and fields to swamps and small streams. Activities include fishing, boating, hunting and more.

Callaway, MD

Hiawatha River Boat on the Susquehanna River

Susquehanna State Park (PA)

This 20-acre riverfront recreational area is in the city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The park offers boating, fishing, picnicking and cruises on a paddlewheeler.

Williamsport, PA

Windsor Castle Park

Windsor Castle Park

Windsor Castle Park is a riverside park that features a woodland trail system, picnic and open area space, dog park, kayak/canoe launch, fishing pier, mountain bike path, scenic overlooks and the historic manor house -- Windsor Castle.

Smithfield, VA

York River State Park

York River State Park

York River State Park offers visitors an opportunity to experience the environment of a coastal estuary. The park is known for its rare and delicate environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet.

Williamsburg, VA

June 12, 2017

Main image: Mountain biking in the Avalon area of Patapsco Valley State Park (Image courtesy: Joe Foley / Flickr)
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