The 10 Hardest Bike Climbs in Virginia

#1
Wintergreen Drive
USA, VA
#2
High Knob
USA, VA
#3
Doe Creek Road (Route 613)
USA, VA
#4
Thunder Ridge
USA, VA
#5
Reddish Knob (Virginia)
USA, VA
#8
Mountain Lake
USA, VA
#9
Reeds Gap East
USA, VA

Climb List: Virginia's Most Difficult Bike Climbs
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

Cycling Virginia's Most Difficult Bike Climbs

Virginia Top Bike Climbs - signs for Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, and the Virginia State Seal, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

I don’t think Virginia gets a fair shake for cycling.  There are some great bike climbs in Virginia, as well as two of the most scenic National Byways in the US: the Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia/North Carolina, 469 miles) and Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park (105 miles).  Below are the top five bike climbs in Virginia.

#1 HARDEST BIKE CLIMB IN VIRGINIA

WINTERGREEN TO DEVILS KNOB

Cycling Wintergreen, Virginia - cyclist riding next to green sign for Wintergreen

Cycling Wintergreen to Devils Knob, Virginia.

Ride 7.2 miles gaining 2,903’ at 7.7% average grade. 

This is the most difficult bike climb in Virginia. The climb starts about one mile up Route 664 from its T intersection with Route 151.  The first 3.2 miles (at 5.9%) of the climb are on Route 664 (a busy road), the next 3.5 miles are on Wintergreen Drive (at 9.4%), and the final half-mile is on Devils Knob Loop (at 8%).

Cycling Wintergreen, Virginia - photo collage, turn onto Devil's Knob Loop, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

“The climb to Wintergreen is likely the most difficult in the state of Virginia and it is one of the most difficult in the Southeast United States.  Located in the central part of the state it is somewhat isolated but well worth the effort to get there.  Shallow to begin, the grade gradually increases as you ride along Route 664.  Through thick woods in places the grade gets steeper as you head west.  Scenery and little traffic most days creates a pleasant start to the ascent…” (This quote provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 120.)

#2 VIRGINIA TOP BIKE CLIMB

HIGH KNOB

aerial view of twiggy, leafless trees and hillside 

View from the top of High Knob

Ride 4.6 miles gaining 2,029’ at 8.3% average grade.

The climb starts at the intersection of Alt58 and 619 in Norton, Virginia, and the climb starts off immediately, so it's a good idea to ride around Norton a little to warm up first. Route 619 is narrow with no shoulder, mostly two lanes but with a few short stretches that are only one lane wide. The road surface is good and quite smooth throughout.

#3 VIRGINIA

DOE CREEK ROAD

wet, two-lane roadway surrounded by dense fall foliage

Cycling Doe Creek Road (Route 613)

Ride 4.1 miles gaining 1,904’ at 8.8% average grade.

This beautiful climb in the Appalachians is ranked #3 in Virginia, and rightly so. There are several short segments in the 15% range over the last half of the climb and the steepest quarter mile is 13.5% and half mile 12.7%.

photo collage, deer peek out of dense forest, bright fall foliage along roadside, bike parked against white fence on roadside, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

The scenery is extraordinary during fall colors.

Bike parked against white fence at sign for Doe Creek Farm, Apple orchards

Doe Creek Farm is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is an historical 1800s working farm that is now also a wedding venue.

#4 VIRGINIA

THUNDER RIDGE

Mountain Lake Lodge, Virginia

Mountain Lake Lodge is at climb finish.

Mountain Lake Lodge, Kellerman's Resort, Dirty Dancing

Mountain Lodge was “Kellerman’s Resort” in 1987’s Dirty Dancing.

Photo:  Vanity Fair

#5 VIRGINIA

REDDISH KNOB

Cycling Reddish Knob, Virginia - aerial panoramic view of hillsides covered in bright fall foliage, bright blue sky

Cycling Reddish Knob, Virginia

Ride 8.9 miles gaining 2,740’ at 5.7% average grade.

This climb begins in northwestern Virginia and ends on its border with West Virginia.

“Reddish Knob is a challenging and scenic ascent up to the very top of Reddish Knob Mountain in western Virginia.  The road is narrow over part of the route and the grade is shallow to start but gradually steepens as you ride west.  Eventually you pass a dam on your left.  Beyond the dam the climb averages 7% grade and at a big switchback at mile 6.8 the road gets very narrow (only one vehicle can pass at a time in places) as it enters thick trees.  There are several short flats in this section before a steeper stretch just prior to the top which greets you with 360 degree views.  Reddish Knob is also an interesting descent as well.” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 118.)

Cycling Reddish Knob, Virginia - photo collage, NPS sign for George Washington National Forest "Land of Many Uses", bright fall foliage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

The term “knob” refers to a prominent rounded hill or mountain.

This is a very peaceful and fun ride up Shenandoah Mountain to one of the highest points in Virginia at 4,411’.  Shenandoah Mountain is part of the Alleghenies, which are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains.