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Mountwood Park, WV

Arriba!

Once you hit the trails at Mountwood Park, you’ll likely see more white-tailed deer than other mountain bikers, even on a warm and sunny holiday weekend. That’s one of the beauties of this little known singletrack destination — plenty of leg room.

Start your ride with a climb up Copperhead Road and To the Moon, which will quickly acquaint you with the character of Mountwood trails, which are well made with plenty of climbs and forest shady enough that even the palest of riders can forego sunscreen. At the top of the ridge you’ll come to a large grassy clearing and find a little wooden stunt course built into a mound of dirt. Unless you’re on a mission to increase your tolerance for pain or are looking for a cheap and easy way to get yourself neutered, avoid it and tackle the steep and technical descent off the clearing and continue your ride through the forest. Drew Smithberger of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association, the group that starting building trails here back in the mid ’90s, advises to not miss his favorite trail, Haystack: “It’s got the flow, top to bottom.”

There’s more to Mountwood than trees and trails. This area used to be full of oil wells, and you’ll find the surprisingly intact remains of wooden holding tanks (they look like giant whiskey barrels), some long-abandoned machinery with trees growing up through it, and the ruins of an oil magnate’s mansion.

If you’re looking to ride hard with others at Mountwood, check out the annual Challenge at Mountwood race, www.mountwoodpark.org/mountwoodchallenge.htm.

Where it’s at: About 2 hours, 15 minutes from Columbus; 12 miles east of Parkersburg, WV on US 50

Contact: www.mountwoodpark.org or (304) 679-3694

Digs: A “beach house” ($50-$70), a cabin ($35) and primitive camping ($20) - neither cabin nor camping have water - are all available at the lake. The Mountwood campground, one mile east of the lake, has tent camping, showers and RV hook-ups ($17 and up).

Grub: Back Roads Pizza (304-679-3000) is just west of the Mountwood Park entrance at the junction of US 50 and WV 31. They serve pizza, beer and subs. Try the Dirt Road Delight, the local take on the classic Italian sub.

Gear and Outfitting: Parkersburg Bicycle, www.parkersburgbike.com or (304) 485-2453