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Kanawha State Forest
By Robin Brown Broughton

For those who want city-life amenities, there's incredible mountain biking, just 10 minutes from Charleston, West Virginia's capital city, in Kanawha State Forest.

The 9,300-acre forest is where I spend most of my time riding. This is what West Virginia's all about: miles and miles of awesome mountain biking trails, all within a short drive of a downtown, three-story mall, hotels and fine restaurants. Kanawha State Forest is a perfect mountain bike destination or a great place to ride when you're in town for business.

The forest probably is best known as home of Black Bear Trail, which has been called "one of the steepest descents on the East Coast." It's pretty much near-vertical with plenty of rocks and roots--definitely a double black diamond. The trail's a favorite spectator point for those watching the Black Bear 40K Mountain Bike Race in June.

Other great singletrack trails are Davis Creek, Mossy Rock, Wildcat, Ballard, Teaberry, Pin Ridge and Pigeon Roost. If you plan it right, you can ride all seven trails plus the Black Bear in one day. Locals call this the "Singletrack Extravaganza." Plan on a three-to-five-hour ride.

If you like tight switch backs, try Wildcat. You'll be treated to some of the quickest, steepest switchbacks you've ever seen. Most of Kanawha State Forest's trails require at least intermediate riding skills, but there are plenty of gravel and dirt roads in the forest for beginner riders.

Trail maps can be picked up at the forest superintendent's office or at Mountain State Bicycles, about 15 minutes west of Charleston. The shop offers guided tours in Kanawha State Forest. Also ask about rides in nearby Putnam County. For more information, call Mountain State Bicycles at 304-757-0308.

Snowshoe || Slatyfork || Cheat Mountain || Canaan Valley || New River Gorge  || Kanawha State Forest (Top) || Charles Fork Lake || Morgantown

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