Road, rail & mountain trail: all the best biking in Parkersburg
If you lean toward bike adventures with plenty of solitude and a side of history, then you’ll love Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Parkersburg (or P-Burg as it’s known by locals) is a favorite for cyclists because of its central location near a ton of top-notch biking trails in northwest West Virginia. From paved bikeways that follow along the Ohio River to a famous race through a beautiful park, there are plenty of ways to get your thrills in Parkersburg.
1. Mountwood Park Grand Tour Loop
The Mountwood Park Grand Tour Loop is 22.4 miles of (mostly) singletrack through a peaceful forest. Expect some serious hills on this expertly crafted trail, with as much as a 20% grade in some sections. You can tackle the trail in either direction, but counterclockwise is best. 2 of the best things about the loop are that night riding is allowed, and in many ways, it can be a choose-your-own-adventure type of ride. There are plenty of bail-out options and ways to take on shorter loops too, so you don’t need to be an endurance biker to undertake this trail.
If you’re more competitive, sign up for the Challenge at Mountwood. The West Virginia Mountain Bike Association puts on a series of races and this one is the most popular race in all of West Virginia. This race, which takes place annually in the spring, is pure perfection.
2. North Bend Rail Trail
Head an hour east from Parkersburg to Salem, West Virginia, to jump on the North Bend Rail Trail. This multi-use trail that was originally constructed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1857, and covers 72 miles. If you want to ride for more than that, the trail is also part of the much larger, coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail, so just keep on going. Along the way you’ll come across 36 bridges and 13 tunnels, scenic farmland landscapes, and quaint small town vibes.
Make sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp to go through the tunnels, especially at mile 21.9—the 1,376-foot Silver Run Tunnel that is rumored to be haunted. Also look for the teeny town of Cairo and the Old Stone House in Pennsboro—it was once an 1800s stagecoach inn, but now it’s a museum on the National Register of Historic Places.
Check out the River Run or Cokeley campgrounds in North Bend State Park to pitch a tent for the night. Both will run you $20 per site if you’re up for camping sans electricity.
3. McDonough Trail
If you love spotting wildlife, head over to the McDonough Trail, which is on a small refuge of forested landscapes and wetlands. It’s just a 12-minute drive from Parkersburg to nearby Vienna, and while the trail is short (about 3 miles), it’s easy for any skill level and great for kid-filled family excursions.
While the trail is mostly used by hikers, bikers use the pathway, too.
Ride on the McDonough Trail on an afternoon when you don’t have a ton of time but need to get outdoors. In less than 2 hours you can drive there, bike the loop, and head back. For more mileage, bike the 4.8 miles between Parkersburg and Vienna instead.
4. Fort Boreman Historical Park
While Fort Boreman isn’t traditionally thought of as a biker’s paradise, it’s unique way to get some biking in while taking in the history of Parkersburg. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and opened to the public in 2007, Fort Boreman has a partially reconstructed Civil War fortress, interpretative signage for anyone interested in learning a thing or 2 along the way, and picnic tables and shelters galore. After spinning around the history-filled park on its short path, put your bike aside for a minute and hike to the top of the park for a bird’s eye view of the Ohio River and Parkersburg below.
This post was last updated on July 28, 2020