The Heart of Appalachia Bike Route is one of many opportunities to experience our region, Virginia’s westernmost tip. It offers unparalleled scenic bicycle pedal pushin’ exploration between the six-mile Guest River Trail near the Kentucky border and Burke’s Garden, a geological wonder cloistered between Rich and Brushy Mountains, just south of Bluefield, West Virginia. Begun as an assortment of loops and out-and-back routes through Tazewell, Russell, and Wise Counties, the Heart of Appalachia Bike Route offers over 125 miles of scenic bicycling adventure and is the only official state bicycle route in Virginia. The route was officially recognized by the General Assembly in 1999, when legislators allocated $50,000 to provide signage for the bike route and scenic drive in an effort to promote tourism and economic development.
The route provides a variety of terrain and surfaces, including paved and gravel roads, rail-trails, single-track side trips, and considerable on-road portions. Since the ride uses both paved and unpaved secondary roads, experienced riders say that knobby tires on a road bike or hybrid tires on a mountain bike are the way to go. The route is signed throughout its length and maps are available at http://www.virginiadot.org/bikemap. There are several climbs on the route; elevations range from about 1400’ to 3960’ with a total ascent of over 6585’. Starting at Gose’s Mill in Burke’s Garden, the ride traverses in and out of the Jefferson National Forest where dispersed/primitive camping is allowed at no cost except where marked prohibited. The mid-point is approximately Wardell with close-by towns of Pounding Mill, Claypool Hill and Cedar Bluff. Further along is the county seat of Russell County, Lebanon with the next amenities in the St. Paul/Castlewood area, finishing the route at the scenic Guest River Gorge in Coeburn.
Main Trail Route:
Total Main Route~ 128 miles
The Heart of Appalachia region’s landscapes are rugged and beautiful. The region also offers rich cultural diversity, from the Cherokees to coal miners to Bluegrass and other traditional music. There’s no better way to experience the Heart of Appalachia region’s scenery, natural beauty, and culture and to get to know its people than by bicycle.