An article in the Roanoke Times mentions the possibility of adding mountain bike trails to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s list of off-road recreational activities. In 2008, the Parkway asked for public comment on its trails development plan, and specifically those trails which connect to other trails on public lands in the area. Many riders from our region enthusiastically supported adding mountain bikers as an acceptable user type, including myself. Although, according to the article, the plan won’t come out for review until at least next year (and then it could be years until the trails are opened or built), it appears that there is hope that the National Park Service might start opening some of its trails to bikes.
Currently, there is only one trail on National Park land in the entire region that is open to bikes: the lower portion of the Deep Creek trail (and it is more of a gravel road). And although bike-friendly Forest Service trails connect directly to the Blue Ridge Parkway, users must stop riding and carry their bikes over the short section of trail on Parkway property until they reach the roadway, an awkward and senseless requirement which would hopefully be lifted once the new plan goes in place.
We’ll keep you posted as we here more about the prospects of bikes on National Park Service lands.