Pipestem is one of West Virginia’s premier state park and offers a variety of recreational activities in addition to mountain biking. It boasts two golf courses, two full service lodges, two restaurants, a small lake, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) and a variety of other outdoor recreation opportunities. If you are planning to bring along family, kids, or other non-mountain bikers Access to Pipestem can be reached via I-77 (about 15 minutes off of exit 14) or via route 20 just South of Hinton and North of Princeton.
Pipestem has several multi-use trails and six of those are open to Mountain Bikes. Tail guides are available at the main lodge, nature center, recreation center, park headquarters and main club house. I will discuss some of my favorites and suggest a couple of loops.
Lake Shore Trail 2.2 mile loop
The trail is a fairly level trail which encircles Long Branch Lake. Mostly level double track with a couple of semi-steep descents and one or two short climbs. This is a great beginner ride, but sees a lot of other traffic. Fisherman in the spring and early summer, and horses in the summer and early fall. This trail can be reached via the Law Hollow trail (.5 miles one way from park road), Lake View (.4 miles one way from park road) or the Long Branch trail (which is really a paved handicap access road). I recommend parking at the main lodge riding to Law Hollow, down Law Hollow to Lake Shore, riding lake shore a couple of times and then heading back up to the road on the Lake View Trail.
County Line Trail 1.9 miles one way
The trail starts at the Nature Center is a steep combination of single and double track riding. It careens across two knobs and descends into the Bluestone Canyon. At one mile you will pass a small trail that drops over a hill to offer a spectacular view of Indian Branch Falls. Beautiful waterfall, but leave your bike on the Canyon Line. A tumble over the sandstone cliff could easily spell disaster. The County Line trail ends at the River Trail. At this point you can turn left, cross the Bluestone River and (for a small fee) ride the aerial tramway to the top of the canyon or you can turn right and start the long ascent along the river trail back to the park road and will spit you out at the main lodge.
River Trail 5.25 miles one way in Pipestem, 13.5 miles if you take it on to Bluestone
The river trail begins along the Park road next to the main lodge. You have a couple of options on this one. If you start at the lodge it is pretty much all a steep double track descent into the Bluestone Canyon. At about 2.25 miles you will cross under the aerial tramway and come to where the Canyon Rim Trail crosses the River Trail. Stash the bike and hike the .5 miles down hill down the Canyon Rim Trail past an old residence (you will be amazed that someone once lived on the side of this mountain) to huge sandstone cliff that offers a gorgeous view of the Bluestone River, the Gorge and Mountain Creek Lodge. Bring your camera, it is definitely worth the hike. At this point proceed downhill. When you cross the Canyon Rim trail you can head back uphill for a lung-busting climb or you can stay on the River Trail, cross the river to Mountain Creek Lodge and hitch a ride to the top of the mountain. If you choose you can follow a very remote, but gentle River Trail for 8.5 miles to Bluestone State Park. It is a sparsely traveled ride, but offers some great scenery. It passes through a Native American burial area and two old cemeteries that were in use before the creation of the bluestone lake.
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