The Virginia Highlands Horse Trail runs 67 miles through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Mount Rogers
National Recreation Area. Some sections are open to bikes, including this one.
This segment of the VHHT is for those who appreciate a good rock garden! It is only six miles long, but I swear there are 10 miles of rock garden with 3-6" and larger rocks. However, it's the fun kind that doesn't require an advanced degree in mountain biking to successfully ride through, although you may have to pick lines carefully.
This will still be a challenging trail for many because of the near continuous nature of the rocks and the overall altitude, especially if you're climbing. You can also expect a dozen or so short water crossings including several sections where water runs down the trail. As mentioned previously, the trail is quite rocky, so erosion is minimal, but plan to get dirty.
It goes without saying that as this is the Virginia Highlands HORSE trail, so you should expect to see horses and follow the appropriate etiquette. There is a 15 mph speed limit for bikers, but this is only an issue if you're going downhill (the reverse of the direction shown here). Unfortunately, you can expect a fair amount of horse poo. Consider it an occupational hazard and don't swallow any mud that gets splashed onto your face!
From the Scales Horse Corral, the VHHT continues towards the Wilson Creek Trail
. Wilson Creek Trail
takes you to Grayson Highlands State Park. At about the four-mile mark, veer right (don't go through the gate) and shortly thereafter you'll reach a junction with the Appalachian Trail and the Rhododendron Gap Trail, but these are off-limits to bikes.
Much of the trail is pretty well covered in shade, but there is an impressive view at this junction. From this junction, continue straight on the VHHT which narrows significantly. After another mile, you'll have to take a sharp right to stay on the VHHT. The Cabin Ridge Trail
continues straight at this point, but it is closed to bikes because it passes through wilderness. The VHHT continues another mile to the intersection with the Crest Trail
in the middle of a large clearing with Mount Rogers
directly in front of you. The vegetation in this section has almost formed a tunnel through which you must ride, and of course there are the omnipresent rocks to contend with. You'll have to take the Crest Trail
because the next segment of the VHHT continues into a designated wilderness.