This 14-mile loop gains most of its elevation through an easy and scenic climb on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then you'll blast down a smile-inducing five-mile descent that is punctuated by just a couple short climbs. Steep and chunky in places, this ride is best suited for solidly intermediate and advanced riders.
$4 day pass fee.
Begin in the parking lot near the lake at the end of the Sherando Lake campground. There are pit toilets available for changing and lowering your climbing weight before setting out on the White Rock Gap Trail
, which begins just up the road from the parking lot.
This loop begins and ends with White Rock Gap Trail
, climbs at a mellow and steady pace. There are a few narrow sections and technical moves on White Rock, but nothing too hard. Near mile 2.25, you'll pass the intersection with Slack's Trail
. Continue on White Rock until you reach the Blue Ridge Parkway, then hang a right. Enjoy the scenic mountain views as you climb for about four easy miles on the Parkway.
Around mile 6.7, you'll turn right on the Bald Mountain Jeep Trail #162
and climb some more. This climb is also pretty mellow. After about a mile, you'll turn right on Torry Ridge Trail
and almost immediately begin descending a steep, loose trail that quickly turns into boulder field. Some may be able to ride through here, but many will have to dismount and walk to get down it safely. Once through there, descend a bit more until you come to the intersection with Slack's Trail
, around mile 8.8.
Head down Slack's and enjoy the ripping, chunky descent. There are some good rock gardens, a few punchy climbs, and a steep, loose section near the intersection of White Rock Gap Trail
. Here the grade mellows a bit. As a descent, White Rock has just the right blend of flow and chunk to make it an absolute hoot to ride. Do watch out for hikers and other trail users, though, as this is a popular trail. The end of White Rock will put you back at the parking lot where you started.
The combination of flowy singletrack, scenic parkway riding, and steep, rocky descents makes this short loop a nice "variety pack" of riding experiences.
If you're pressed for time, this loop can be shortened by taking the Slack's access trail, which links the Parkway with the middle section of Slack's Trail
. Look for the parking lot around mile four. This shortcut would eliminate a couple miles of Parkway climbing and the more technical upper sections of Torry Ridge and Slack's, making for a total of about 8.5 miles, a much friendlier ride for beginners.