We have documented the 10 hardest bike rides in Virginia. On this page and the individual climb page you will find detailed summaries, epic photographs and statistics for these climbs.
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
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%).
“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
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.
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%.
The scenery is extraordinary during fall colors.
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.
Mountain Lake Lodge is at climb finish.
Mountain Lodge was “Kellerman’s Resort” in 1987’s Dirty Dancing.
Photo: Vanity Fair
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.)
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.
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