Page Contributor(s): John Summerson, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition.
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Cycling Spruce Knob
Ride 11.6 miles gaining 2,918’ at 4.7% average grade.
This extraordinary ride takes us to the highest paved location in West Virginia (and, with a brief hike, to the highest point in the state). At 4,863’, Spruce Knob is also the highest peak in the Allegheny subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. The Spruce Knob bicycle climb is located within the Monongahela National Forest (921,000 acres, includes much of the Potomac Highlands Region), within the Allegheny Mountains.
Spruce Knob is the hardest bike climb in West Virginia.
“Very likely the most difficult overall climb in West Virginia, Spruce Knob is a fairly long ascent that takes you to the highest point in the state. Be ready early on this one as it has a sting over its opening miles. Quite isolated as it is located toward the center of this mountainous state, the road almost immediately reaches double digit grade as you head up the ridge. Solid 9-12% slope gets one warmed up quite quickly and you catch your breath as well. Around mile 2.5 the two lane road squeezes down to a wide single lane and thick woods close in as well as a grade ease. From this point the grade remains stout for another half mile and then eases further. From here to the top you ride over mostly shallow variable slope and through a few switchbacks. The trees only part in a few places along this stretch of climbing. At mile 9.8 turn right to get the very top of the mountain. This finishing stretch contains more stout grade in places along with long views toward the very top. The grade eases just before the summit among spruce trees which is the top section of a parking area with restrooms. There may be a bit of traffic on the road on good weather weekends but not enough to ruin the climb.” (This quote provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 100.)
Photo left: Start of the climb.
Photos right: PJAMM Adventure App showing elevation grid, etc.
Stay left on Briery Gap Road/Highway 33 at mile 1.7.
Also stay right onto Forest Road 112 at the fork at mile 2.4 (not left onto Route 13/1-Simoda Road).
The first three miles of the climb are the most difficult, averaging 8.4%.
Scenery along the middle section of the ride.
Miles 4 to 11 are a breeze at a very consistent 4-5%.
The only Overlook before the finish is at mile 8.7.
Photo: Observation tower at the summit of Spruce Knob, West Virginia
Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: The road was in good shape in October 2020 and there is minimal traffic on this bike climb. The descent is very fun and you can hit pretty good speed over the last three miles towards the finish.
Parking: There is parking on Route 28 near the start of the climb.
That’s a wrap!