This is pure Arcadia goodness. Creekside scenery, gravel climbs, fast downhills, and fire road traverses. Arcadia is a special place, and this loop shows off what it's got in all its glory.
You'll warm up on the road from your car, climb several miles of gravel, traverse a fast rolling grassy fire road to Pine Ridge Trail #15
- a fast and furious downhill that will leave you with a grin on your face. Chill out by the creek for a minute (make sure to see the old iron smelt!) before beginning the step-on-your-neck Cove Mountain climb.
Top out, then scoot along the off-camber sidecut section of the Glenwood Horse Trail to get to the next fire road traverse before bombing down Little Cove back to your car.
**Can be split into two separate shorter loops using Jennings Creek Road (see description).
Park your car on Jennings Creek at the bottom of the bridge. Ride back the way you came, mostly downhill on the road, until you see the sign for North Creek Campground. Turn RIGHT onto North Creek Road.
Climb up this road until you pass the campground on your right. Keep going and you'll come to the intersection of Forest Road 768
with the access road for the Cornelius Creek Trail
. Turn LEFT to ascend the gravel Forest Road 768
. This is a long (approximately two miles), winding, but not steep gravel road that will seem to go on forever. You'll reach a turnout on the LEFT at a topping out point and will see a sign that says "road ends 500 ft." Turn LEFT onto Forest Road 3027
Go about 50 yards and you'll see a gate on your right. Go around the gate and enter the grassy rollers section. At the first intersection one mile in, turn LEFT. Turn LEFT again two more times (the Pine Ridge Trail #15
should be fairly easy to follow although in the summer months some spots get fairly overgrown.)
Your final left turn will take you up a slightly steep hill and then you'll be climbing singletrack again for a little while. Two short rolls followed by two short pitches and you'll then climb a less steep section to reach the top of Pine Ridge at approximately 10 miles into the ride. During winter months, take in the views of the surrounding peaks.
Pedal for about a quarter mile, enter some s-turns, then start the fast and furious Pine Ridge Trail #15
downhill. There is nothing technical to worry about for a while - just hold on to your hat, watch for fallen logs, and keep an eye out for sharp right turns. This is a 2.8-mile downhill with some water diverters that will boot you if you take them the right (or wrong?) way, and one short climb in the middle. Enjoy!
At the bottom, turn LEFT onto Solitude Rd and enjoy the gorgeous view of the James River. Ride this to its intersection with Jennings Creek Road. On your left over the bridge is an old iron smelter. This is a good place for a snack!
Turn RIGHT, and then an immediate LEFT at the church on Chapel Road. Ride 100 yards or so and turn LEFT onto the first STEEP gravel road you see, Cove Mountain Fire Road
. Very close by on your RIGHT is the entrance to the doubletrack Cove Mountain Trail #23
, turn onto that and follow the BLUE BLAZES. This will stair-step up for about a half mile and then there will be a gate on the right. Go around the gate and continue to climb about 1.2 miles to the intersection with the Glenwood Horse Trail #3004B
on your LEFT (ORANGE blaze, marked by a metal post.)
Take the three-quarter mile sidecut section of trail and cross the AT. It'll open into a grassy field, cross the field and continue on the Glenwood Horse Fire Road
for three miles, through two gates. Right after the second gate there will be a forestry sign on your left. Immediately across from this is the final downhill on Little Cove Mountain Trail.
Little Cove starts off pedally and rocky, then turns into a side-cut, fast, and loose DH with one tight switchback. There are two creek crossings after you flatten out, and then you'll cross the bridge and end at your car.
***To do just the Pine Ridge loop, park at the FS parking lot with the kiosk, ride up Jennings Creek Road, turn RIGHT at the sign for North Creek, and follow the directions to Solitude Rd, turn LEFT after crossing the creek and return to your car.
** To do just Cove/Little Cove, park at the FS parking lot with the Kiosk, ride down Jennings Creek Road, turn LEFT at the church in Arcadia, and follow the directions to the end of Little Cove, turning LEFT after the crossing the creek and taking the road back to your car.