Vances Cove is a 15 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Star Tannery, Virginia. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for mountain biking.
First, before you start go to Element Sports in Winchester VA for a trail map (2184 S Pleasant Valley Rd, Winchester, VA 22601 ph# 540-662-5744). Not only do these guys have free maps of several MTB trails, they ride them too! This is one sweeeet ride, climbs, rocks, logs, streams, downhill, and a few jumps in the Tank Trap area. This trail has a little of everything a mountain bikers wants. Rode the trail with a buddy (you should have a wingman for this ride) following the map provided by Element Sports for the first 4.4 miles. The weather was perfect for riding so we added our own route by following the Yellow trail to the right once we crossed into WV. After several miles of mostly downhill forest rode we turned left on the Old Mail Path. There were lots of wet mushy areas with a big unimproved stream crossing at Cove Run. After the creek the trail is almost uphill all the way to the intersection of Ranger Camp Hollow Trail. Turned left on Ranger Camp Hollow Trail and followed it all the way back to the WV/VA state line. Turned right on the Yellow Trail and flew thru the 4 or 5 Tank Traps catching LOTS of air on each one. These will bring a smile to your face!!! Turned left on the yellow before the last Tank Trap and followed the trail to the Gerhard Shelter Trail (White Trail). This was were the REAL work started. The sign said .7 mile to the shelter, no problem we thought. Holy Cow, we rode about a hundred yards before having to dismount because the incline was so steep. We pushed 20-25 feet stopped, caught our breath and repeated all the way to the shelter. The only thing that kept us going was understanding what goes up must come down! The White Trail terminates at the top and intersects with the Tuscarora/Blue Trail. The shelter was awesome, hats off to the Potomac Appalachian Club for building and maintaining these shelters. The 360 degree view from the summit was worth the effort. Had lunch in the shelter, rested for 10 minutes and off we went down the hill we just climbed up. The one hour push to the top turned into a 4 minute ride to the bottom. Actually the downhill ride was more like a controlled crash all the way to the end without ever hitting the deck! We smoked our brakes, the air smelled like following an 18 wheeler down a steep mountain road!!. Turned left on the Yellow Trail and returned to where we started. WOW, what a day, 16 miles of pure (but hard) fun. If youre tired of riding Elizabeth Furnace give Vances Cove a shot. You wont be disappointed.
This place has promise. Mix of fire road, abandoned two track and decent single track. Partial review. I was unable to ride the entire trail. I got a late start and did not have my GPS with me. The map from the local bike shop relies a lot on mileages. Seriously, you need to have a GPS and map or ride with someone who has been there before, especially if there leaves are on the trail in the fall. Summer is probably easier as the trail would be easier to follow if it has some usage and less leaf cover . What I saw of the single track was very nice. Climbs I experienced were very doable for an intermediate, and I hate climbs. The technical stuff was limited to the rock gardens. Standard VA, rock gardens, thorns, briar, roots, logs, stream crossings. I will go back when I am properly equipped. Local bike club is the Virginia Wheelmen.