Wood County, West Virginia
A great place to ride just outside of Parkersburg, West Virginia
by Christopher Burk, Outdoor Travels
Mountwood Park is one of West Virginia’s largest county parks. Offering over 2,600 acres of serene woodlands surrounding a 50-acre lake, the park is a refreshing recreation location for both visitors and Mid-Ohio Valley residents alike. Amenities include a small marina complete with boat rentals and a concession stand as well as picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and a newly opened miniature golf course next to the boat house.
However, almost forgotten on account of all the other amenities is the 35 miles of biking and hiking trails surrounding the park. A combination of tight, technical single-track and wider ORV trails, Mountwood’s trails offer something for everyone. Although most maps still list several trails as ORV trails, Mountwood has recently banned the use of motorized vehicles on the trails so mountain bikers pretty much have free reign of the trails.
Starting from the parking lot next to the lake offers access to almost all the trails. Some of the most notable are Copperhead Road, Trip to the Moon, Collarbone Cutoff and Haystack trail. They represent some of the best single-track in the park. Much of it is tight, technical, and fast. And all of it is well-maintained thanks to the River Valley Mountain Bike Association and local volunteers.
While almost every trail features a couple of climbs and nice downhill sections, each trail has some rather unique characteristics. Copperhead Road and Trip to the Moon offer a series of ups and downs through the hollows one of which includes a “scary” bridge crossing. Haystack also offers a couple of bridge crossing, one of which looks like something imported from British Columbia, and then there’s Log Jam. It’s name says it all. It’s a rather short trail connecting Haystack and Collarbone Cutoff, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in obstacles. There are at least six serious log crossing
Probably my favorite ride is combining Lake Trail, Shortcut, Waterfall, Stiles Mansion, Lava Rock, Collarbone Cutoff, Log Jam and Haystack into one long loop. It includes some rather serious climbing by the downhill ride is certainly worth it.
Although Mountwood offers a great place to get in the saddle that’s close to Parkersburg, it’s not without it’s detractors. The lake is pretty much the lowest point in the park, so any ride originating from there means starting with a climb. Not always the most enjoyable thing when you’re still trying to warm up.
Also some would say that the trail layout and design doesn’t cover a wide range of skill levels. The trails are great for those with skills towards the middle of the spectrum. But the trails may seem intimidating to those riders who are just starting out and leave experts wanting bigger drops and larger challenges. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
9/4/03: Returning to the scene of the crime.
by Dana Farnsworth, Outdoor Travels
There's no place like home. You can never go back home again. I shall return. Home is where the heart is.
There are a lot of interesting quotes that deal with returning to one’s home. The best comparison I can make is returning to your grade school after years of not being in it. Chances are it was amazing how small everything seemed. Memories can be much larger than reality. Mountwood Park would prove to be similar to me - but no less disappointing.
Mountwood is the park I cut my mountain biking teeth on a few years ago. Back then I didn't ride often, but when I did ride, I was mashing the pedals on my Specialized at Mountwood Park. I returned to my biking cradle recently after a few years of not experiencing it. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. When I lived in West Virginia, I probably rode (exclusively) at Mountwood Park less than a dozen times. I remembered it being technical and aerobically challenging. Almost every time, I would stop halfway up "Trip to the Moon", panting heavily, and thinking my chest was going to explode, or I was going to puke, or I was going to have a brain aneurism. I rediscovered mountain biking after moving to Florida in 2000, and have since been busy aggressively developing my skills. So I was very curious how my old stomping grounds were going to stand up to my memories and recollections.
Well, after riding all over Mountwood with nearby resident, best buddy, and Outdoor Travels contributor Christopher Burk, I can tell you that it is BETTER than I remembered. The trails ranged from easy to moderately technical, not nearly as hard as I remembered, with rolling ridge trails, fun moderate downhill trails and a little easy riding double-track. Why is this better you ask? Well, the network of single-track is more extensive than I ever experienced, the scenery more gorgeous and the diversity of trail personality - greater. The one thing that hasn’t changed from my memory is its aerobic difficulty. Though not as hard as I remembered (I think I’m in better shape now), Mountwood still left me huffing up a lung a time or two!
The residents of the Parkersburg area as well as visitors who like to bike off-road have a real gem of a bicycle park in their backyard. I for one am looking forward to the next opportunity to go back to my old school and learn a few new lessons.
Trail(s): Over 35 miles of combination old ORV and true single track. Surfaces vary from leaf and grass to very rocky and rooted.
Difficulty: Most of the trails at Mountwood would fall between advanced beginner and just short of expert.
Outdoor Travels Rating: 4 bikes out of 5 bikes. Great place to improve your technique and work on your endurance but not a lot there to challenge the expert.
Nuts & Bolts
Location: Volcano, WV 12 miles east of Parkersburg, WV
Directions: From Parkersburg, take U.S. Rt. 50 east for 12 miles to the Volcano Road exit. The entrance is on your right.
Facilities: The campground features 81 sites ranging from full hook-up, electric and water to primitive tent sites. Contact the park at 1-877-320-1688 or 1-304-679-3694.
Activities: Outdoor activities include: mountain biking, hiking, picnic areas, paddle boat, kayak and john boat rentals, fishing, miniature golf, 9-hole disc-golf course and overnight camping.
Maps and Stuff
Lots of great photos to give you a good idea of what riding here is like!
Do you like all the details? Then see who crashed, and what happened on a few select past rides!
4/8/06 - The trails are once again in great shape. Be sure to check out the park's official website:
Christopher Burk ODT