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Big Bear Lake, WV

Riding through The Pines at Big Bear Lake. Photo by Attila Horvath.

Competitive mountain bikers and trail runners in West Virginia already know about Big Bear Lake, home of 24 Hours of Big Bear, and 12-hour trail running events. But even those of us who don’t have a number on our backs while out on the trail can still enjoy the 27 miles of challenging singletrack and doubletrack through the dense hardwood and pine forests at Big Bear Lake, a 1,000-acre private playground in the mountain state.

“The variety of trail here accommodates beginners as well as the lovers of the most technical stuff,” says Mark Schooley the maintenance manager and the man responsible for building much of the trail at Big Bear Lake since the early ’90s. There are four distinct loops through the woods, each designated with different colored trail markers. Make sure to check out the section of trail called The Pines where mountain bikers are treated to banked turns that Mark says “will have you grinning ear to ear.”

The well-designed trails at Big Bear dry out fast, so there usually isn’t a lot of mud, but the best time to go is in June, when the mountain laurels are blooming and the thick patches of ferns are at their full height.

After your ride or run, you can wash off the trail grit by jumping in the lake and going for a cool swim.

Where it’s at: Two hours from Pittsburgh; take exit 29 off of I-68 east of Morgantown, WV. Turn south on County Highway 5 toward Hazelton and travel three miles to the gate for Big Bear Lake.

Contact: www.bigbearwv.com or (304) 379-4382

Digs: Pitch a tent at Big Bear Lake for $15 per night or rent a cabin for $39-$69

Grub: Black Bear Burritos in Morgantown, www.blackbearburritos.com or (304) 296-8696

Brew: West Virginia Brewing Company in Morgantown, (304) 296-BREW

Gear and Outfitting: The Adventure’s Edge in Morgantown, www.adventuresedge.org or (304) 296-9007

Cost: $5 day fee, $30 season pass