Cycling Blue Ridge Parkway -- Thunder Ridge
Ride 12.5 miles gaining 3,337’ at 5% average grade.
This is the fourth most difficult bike climb in Virginia. The grade is manageable, only very briefly moving into double digits a few times. As this is part of the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway, and we suspect the views from the viewpoints and openings in the forest bordering the roadway are spectacular. Unfortunately on the day we rode this climb, it was foggy and raining, hampering any distant views. The climb gets its name from a ridgeline near the end of the climb over which the Appalachian Trail passes. This climb takes us to the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia -- Apple Orchard Mountain. The route is entirely on the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway.
“One of the most difficult individual hills on the Blue Ridge Parkway and perhaps the longest continuous climb in Virginia, Thunder Hill is a pleasant ascent. A shallow start gradually gets steeper and turns into a fairly steady grade. Of course the scenery and light traffic on the parkway are excellent and can help you to the summit. There are no surprises on this hill and it ends at an unmarked top. It is a speedy descendent along a smooth (as of 2011) road.” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike), 2nd Edition, pg 122.)
Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway that runs 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, linking the Shenandoah and Smoky Mountains National Parks.
Elevation grid and ride stats per PJAMM Adventure App.
Views, such as they were, along the ride.
The climb begins at the James River Visitor Center and the bridge over the James River.
Thunder Ridge Overlook - turn off at mile 10.6