This is a short loop at Mint Springs Valley Park outside of Crozet. The network includes about six miles of multi-use trails and this loop covers many of them. There are a couple of punchy climbs, technical rocky and rooty sections, and some fast downhills.
This isn't an especially large ride, but it does include just enough terrain, climbs, and challenges to keep things interesting while you put in a good workout. This is also a good option if you're short on time, or need something close by.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend the trails at Mint Springs to beginner and newer riders as they'll feel a little in the deep-end because of the roots, rocks, and elevation gain. The good thing is the technical portions and climbs are not long and if riders did want to start learning some more challenging trails this would be a find spot to begin.
It's also worth noting that the trails are mostly hiking-style singletrack that are comfortably wide for riding. Just keep your speed in-check, especially through sections of blind corners, to be courteous to other trail users
There is very mininal trail maintenance, and I dont think the local bike club is much interested in this county park as a bike venue. Most of the attention goes to Walnut Creek and Preddy Creek. Trees and branches get moved by park services and individuals. There is also a nice swimming lake, camp grills, and bathrooms.
The trails in this ride are multi-use so you'll encounter lots of hikers. Use caution and good manners while riding.
From the parking area, head south along Mint Springs Upper Lake to pick up the Lake Trail
. Riders will spend a short distance on this trail before splitting off onto the Upper Lake Trail
(you could also stay on the Lake Trail
if you wanted to be closer to the water).
Upper Lake Trail
returns to the Lake Trail
a little ways before the Mountain Orchard Trail
. Turn right and start up a short punchy ascent. The steep climbs, difficult roots, and a few rock gardens on Mountain Orchard Trail
act as a great sampler for the trails to come.
At the next intersection, turn left onto the Mountain Orchard - Fire Trail Connector
and then left again onto the Fire Trail
. The wide and rocky fire road will keep you working to reach the intersection with the Little Yellow Trail
(make sure to locate the signed entrance as there is an unmarked connector nearby).
Once on the right trail, enjoy the smooth swoopy terrain for the first half and then get ready for sharp corners, rocks, roots, and some off-camber parts at the end. Where the trail meets the Hollow Trail
, turn left for a moderate climb back up to the Fire Trail
A short descent will lead to Mint Springs' gnarliest singletrack, Big Survey Trail
. This is where the fun is at for experienced mountain bikers. It's very short and nothing crazy, but it's the cherry on top of a small park trail system. You'll go through a series of three distinct climbs to reach the power lines. Each is challenging, but the middle one would be hard to clean.
It's time to drop the seat and get ready for a steep descent. Things get started with a sharp hairpin that forces you to get back well over the rear tire and shoots you out into a steep straight section of trail that's been cut out from the hillside. There isn't a cliff, but if you fell to the left you'd take quite a tumble.
The next turn is a left which will plunge you into another severely steep downhill through a few tight turns with large loose rocks. Keep your speed in-check before these loose rocks or you might be careening straight into the trees. Try your best not to skid the rear wheel dragging these rocks downhill with you. The trail soon ends on the Fire Trail
Hang a right and follow the road back down to the Mountain Orchard - Fire Trail Connector
to end on the Lake Trail
There are a couple of old homestead fireplaces and nice views on this ride. Apple and peach orchards close by. Crozet is a fun little town and has a couple of nice restaurants and bars in town.