Virginia/North Carolina places to visit

We are hoping to fly into Washington DC from the U.K. in late March/early April.

We have a few days planned in the city and then will be travelling out for about 7 days with rough plans to head through Virginia and into North Carolina. We have looked at the Smoky mountains and Blue Ridge parkway.

Looking for recommendations of a small town we could stayon that has some decent gravel riding from the door and bike hire. Will be with the wife and 8 year old son so nothing massive or too hilly (although ebike is an option for the wife!).

Thanks in advance!

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Harrisonburg in va is a good spot. Im curious if Lynchburg also has the same amenities since it is almost directly off of the blue ridge parkway.


Not an authoritative list but one I’ve done with my kids is the Creeper trail in Damascus, VA. It’s a rail trail there are companies that rent bikes and will drive you to the high end and you can have a leisurely ride that is mostly flat and downhill.

I was going to recommend Brevard, NC but it’s going to get pretty hilly to put it mildly. The Love Valley/Brushy Mountain area is beautiful and about an hour north of Charlotte. It’s a mix of dirt/gravel and paved roads. I did a two hour out and back last weekend and was only passed by 7 cars. I also got to see half a dozen horses that I was able to give a wide berth to. It is a hilly area so it may not be amazing if the three of you aren’t looking to put in some work.


If they stick to dupont, thats not too hilly


Dupont rocks. If you can, try to book at


I haven’t been here yet but have heard good things.


US National Whitewater Center if you make it over to Charlotte. :+1:


Some great suggestions so far thanks! Wife and I are looking over maps!

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Just be aware that getting to Western North Carolina from the DC area is about an 8 hour drive. As somebody who used to live in DC and had to make that drive every month (and it is a slog), I would recommend staying within a 3 hour drive of DC. There is so, so much in that radius to see based on your specifications: Skyline Drive and the Virginia Creeper Trail in VA, the C&O Canal Trail heading north out of DC (be sure to make it to Great Falls), Gettysburg PA, Harpers Ferry WV, Harrisonburg VA, Richmond VA, Shenandoah National Park…all with excellent riding.

But if you’re set on coming down to NC, I’ve got some recommendations!

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Skyline drive is really great. Double check the status of the drive with the National Park service. In a few months things should be fine but they had some issues with a few ice storms recently.

South east VA is really far away from the DC area. It’s a really pretty area and the creeper trail is something many folks speak fondly of.


Oops, you’re right…forgot it was in Damascus!

We have 7 days so happy to drive 4 hours, stop for a couple of nights, drive another 4 hours, another couple of nights then 4 hours back towards Washington, another couple of nights. Etc.

Not stuck on any particular itinerary at the moment so happy to have any suggestions. The driving doesn’t worry us. We did Manhattan to Boston last year via Saratoga Sorings and then across to York Beach.

My parents live 3 hours away but you have to go around London so can take 5 hours so we are pretty happy with driving and it’s all part of the holiday - stop at some random places along the way

Dont know much about the city, but Roanoke just had a gravel adventure field guide released, so certainly plenty of gravel near town. Click here (Roanoke ) for info


Weather can be all over the place that time of year. For gravel and low traffic roads, north of Harrisonburg towards Singer’s Glen is great. To the East you can head up to Skyline for a longer/hillier ride. Can also head west towards Stokesville/Mount Solon where there are plenty of gravel roads around the national forest. Can also consider heading over Rt 250 towards Monterey, which folks refer to as little Switzerland. Both Staunton and Harrisonburg have good downtowns with great local shops. Plenty of riding out the door. Bryce and Massanutten both have mt bike parts.

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I would stay in Abingdon ,VA at the Martha Washington Inn. Can ride from there to the Creeper Trail- great for the family. Abingdon has lots of good local restaurants to choose from.


We do big gravel rides 45 minutes outside of dc all the time. Look to stay in middleburg, Leesburg or purceville. You will not be disappointed.

Yesterdays ride - 82.3 mi Ride Activity on February 11, 2023 by Michael N. on Strava


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Then more power to you! On to my current neck of the woods then (Western NC):

Driving south through Western Virginia, there’s a park called Grayson Highlands State Park. Beautiful balds, rolling hills, and wild fuzzy ponies. Highly recommended. It’s also right next to Mt Rogers (the highest peak in VA) and connects to the Appalachian Trail. Not cycling, but beautiful.

Asheville is a big tourist destination and has a lot of good dining. The cycling community in Asheville proper is great - the cycling infrastructure in Asheville proper is not great. I recommend using Asheville as a base and travelling out to the other good rides in the area, like DuPont State Forest and Bent Creek Experimental Forest. If you’re familiar with Berm Peak/Seth’s Bike Hacks from Youtube, his community-funded free bike park, Berm Park, is nearby. Further out is Kanuga Bike Park. Otherwise, nearby Brevard is a hub for professional cyclists and would be a great place to stay.

If you’re keen on cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway, I suggest driving out away from Asheville to a less-busy area, some of the sections of the parkway are heavily-trafficked and it can be a little stressful since it’s hard for cars to pass. If you yourself are up for a challenge, the bike up to Mt Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern US, is pretty neat. You can set out where the parkway intersects with Asheville and have your family meet you up at the top in 4-ish hours.

I also recommend nearby Black Mountain, it has a few family-friendly cycling routes. Plus, it’s very cute - worth staying in as well.

If you do go to Grayson Highlands or Mt Rogers, you can cut directly south to get to Boone. I highly recommend checking it out as well as adjoining town Blowing Rock. I know each have sections of a greenway that will connect the two one day, but I haven’t ridden them yet.

That’s what I’ve got off the top of my head, others can chime in with more recommendations!


There’s a cool little town called Floyd in SW Virginia. 100s of miles of gravel, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, stunning vistas, bluegrass music, close to Blacksburg. Home to 2 gravel races and a road race.


Grayson Highlands is also only about ~40 minutes from Damascus and the Virginia Creeper Trail. Trips to ride the Creeper with my family are some of my favorite memories of growing up, highly recommended. There are some shorter, family friendly hikes in Grayson that still use parts of the Appalachian Trail which is pretty cool. Just be aware of the weather, as it can change quickly as others have said. I also have some true Type 2 fun memories of hiking out of Grayson Highlands in an early April blizzard! Nothing quite like hiking around the perimeter of a bald in blowing snow to find a white AT blaze, lol.


For gravel riding out the door in WNC: Hot Springs. Lots of hills though, but there’s a beautiful and relatively flat out and back on River Road that the family could navigate, minimal vehicles and turns into gravel for more than half of it. You’ll eventually cross into the TN border at which point the road turns back into pavement and contours what can only be described as a cover photo of a Field and Stream magazine around every corner.

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