Exploring West Virginia's "Coolest Small Town" - Fayetteville Dreaming

Jun 15, 2017
by Brice Shirbach  


Views: 4,009    Faves: 10    Comments: 0


The New River is a south-to-north flowing tour de force of Appalachia. It begins at the confluence of the South Fork New River and the North Fork New River in Ashe County, North Carolina, before heading northwest through the southwestern corner of Virginia, and into Fayette County, West Virginia. It eventually merges with the Gauley River to form the Kanawha. Downstream it'll become the Ohio River and after that the Mississippi. It's a stunning, aqueous journey from beginning to end, but its most beautiful stretch occurs once it hits Fayetteville, WV. Here, the New slices through an ancient Appalachian Canyon, better known as the New River Gorge, with 1,000-foot walls of lush, rainforest laden sandstone jutting upwards towards the clouds above a ribbon of slate blue below.

The town of Fayetteville rests along the precipice of the gorge, with its famous New River Bridge Gorge Bridge, the longest single span arch bridge in the western hemisphere, spanning the gap of one of the planet's oldest rivers and drawing several thousands of visitors every year to take in the views. Fayetteville is a town driven by outdoor tourism, and over the years, the community of nearly 3,000 souls has received a handful of accolades, including "Best River Town" by Blueridge Outdoors Magazine, and "Coolest Small Town" by Budget Travel Magazine. For several years, the town has attracted kayakers, climbers, hikers, and even B.A.S.E. jumpers. Mountain bikers come here as well, but with several other destinations between it and major population centers, it hasn't really received its share.

But that's about to change. Within a five mile radius of downtown, there are four separate trail networks, including several within National Park boundaries, and several networks built and/or maintained by The Boy Scouts of America. The crown jewel of their efforts is the network located at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, with 50 trails spanning close to 35-miles of primarily bike park style riding. The Summit is a 10,000+ acre facility utilized during the summer months by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America and features a slew of recreational opportunities for scouts, including nine BMX tracks, several skateparks, a rifle range, a dual slalom course, multiple pumptracks, and more.

For three months each summer, it's only open to the scouts and for special events. However, the rest of the year sees this place open up to everyone, with trail access granted to members of the New River Bicycle Union. Essentially, anyone can become a member, which in turn provides them with access to mile upon mile of progressive and scenic trail riding. Even more enticing are the plans in place to begin building trails on an adjacent mountain from where most of the trails are currently located, called Garden Ground Mountain. From the top of that ridgeline to the New River, trails will drop 1,500 vertical feet with more of a singletrack, hand built element of design.

Fayetteville has long been a popular destination for the outdoor industry, and now it seems mountain biking is ready to sink its teeth into this ancient and stunning landscape as well. There is no doubt riders will enjoy the feast.



Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
It's not tropical, but it is a rainforest.

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming
Fayetteville has a tourism-based economy, and with three bike shops in a town of 3,000, features a solid per capita average!

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming
Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming
Fayetteville Dreaming
The New River Gorge Bridge was the longest arch bridge on the planet when it was finished construction in the late 70's.

Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Phil Waidner leads the charge, both literally and figuratively, for all bicycle programs here at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
The Arrowhead Bike Farm is located at the trailhead for the Arrowhead Trails, a stacked loop system featuring 15-miles of XC oriented singletrack.

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Fayetteville Dreaming Photos

Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming

Fayetteville Dreaming Photos
Here's to many more visits to what was once the East Coast's best-kept secret.




Additional Fayetteville, WV Information:

Please visit West Virginia's tourism site for additional travel and lodging information.
Bechtel Summit is looking to hire a trail crew leader for this year and beyond! Interested? You can find more information about the job, and how to apply here.
Become a member of the New River Bicycle Union to enjoy the trails at The Summit Bechtel Reserve.
Check out the Arrowhead Bike Farm located at the trailhead of the Arrowhead Trails for food, drink, rentals, and service.





47 Comments

  • + 57
 Mountain biking will save WV, not coal.
  • + 1
 Outdoor tourism may be or only hope.
  • + 11
 West by God Virginia baby!!! Love seeing a segment on the underrated trails of WV. With all the new highways being built in the state, I hope to see more and more rider traffic. So many great trails, and plenty of potential going forward.
  • + 8
 I've been going to the NRG for years to climb. Guess I'll start bringing the bike(s)!

This is awesome to see. WV is a wonderland, and don't let people tell you otherwise.
  • + 2
 @steezysam: While you're at it, take some time to raft either the New River or the Gauley (September and October when they open the dam). I do it every year. Makes a great camping/biking/climbing/rafting vacation.
  • + 1
 @kjjohnson: I've rafted both multiple times! Such an amazing part of the world...
  • + 12
 If you're in west Virginia, you have to hit up tudors breakfast biscuits... you know its a tudors biscuit, if you have to scrape the butter off your tongue when your done.
  • + 3
 I can DESTROY some tudors. Bacon egg and cheese all dayyyyyyyy.
  • + 1
 The Thundering Herd is my biscuit of choice.
  • + 2
 I'm so fn glad Tudors has spread to Canada hahahaha
  • + 9
 I used to stop in Fayetteville for a ride and a Pies and Pints dinner all the time visiting friends at school in Virginia! It has been a rad riding scene for at least a decade! Can't wait to go back.
  • + 1
 Pies and Pints is legit. Have a franchise in the WV capital city, Charleston. We have some trails here too.
  • + 11
 Country roads, take me home To the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain mama, take me home To the country roads
  • + 6
 Growing up in New England, WV was people's default example of a shitty place to live. Cousins marrying cousins, kids eating coal for breakfast, trailer parks as far as the eye can see - In many ways, those stereotypes are well earned. However, when I lived in Pittsburgh for 2 years WV became the place I'd go whenever I had a long weekend and wanted to go camping and get on my bike. The hills there are beautiful, and there is so much more public space than in New England. A few cool towns like Fayetteville and Davis are all it takes to make the most of the fantastic landscape, and I would love to see the rest of the state live up to its potential.
  • + 7
 Thank you for all you do and bringing awareness to all the East Coast goodness @briceshirbach!! Definitely adding this to my list!
  • + 3
 You guys should also check out the Tea Creek trail system in the Monongahela NF. Awesome backcountry riding! They've also built a small trail system near Lewisburg, WV in the Greenbrier State Forest. They have a few fun jump lines and other fun loops. WV is such an underrated place.
  • + 5
 Needs an award for these articles. Great work. And what a great way to help a small town economy without building a damn factory.
  • + 4
 I'm 72 and love ridin' with you young dudes. Lovin' the OB cans in the last pic and the vid is great. This place just moved to the top of the list to visit this fall, thanks
  • + 6
 Adding Fayetteville to my list of places I've got to get to!
  • + 5
 That song though, love it!..Keep the East Coast love coming PB and Brice!
  • + 3
 @brice shirbach it's the Nuttall sandstone formation, definitely not granite
  • + 2
 corrected! cheers!
  • + 2
 Am I right that new trail networks are opening up all over the east? I have a summers worth of new stuff to hit within an hour from my door.
  • + 1
 The New River Gorge is a horrible place! Definitely don't show up with the idea of biking, hiking, climbing, or whitewater rafting. There are bears! Stay away!!!
  • + 3
 Hoping to visit this area in the Fall.
  • + 2
 thanks for showing what trailforks trails are around. now I wanna ride there !
  • + 3
 Is that Chuck Norris on a bike?
  • + 1
 I thought the same thing! Looks like a monster with the sleeveless flannel.
  • + 2
 Anyone know where that jump line is???? I ride there alot and never seen that trail?
  • + 2
 Trail 25 at Bechtel Summit!
  • + 1
 @briceshirbach: How much do you have to pay a year to ride that?
  • + 4
 That's a badass mural.
  • + 1
 So pleased to see this potential tapped! After guiding that river for a few years, I wouldn't call it "slate blue..."
  • + 1
 Fayetteville, AR and now Fayetteville, VA. Naming my first born Fayetteville I guess
  • + 4
 Fayetteville, WV**
  • + 1
 What all is included for top 1 grand per year membership??
  • + 2
 I miss West By God!
  • + 1
 I'm 68 , fark you young dudes ;-)
  • + 1
 Next time, you should have Andy from New River Bikes show ya around...
  • + 1
 Murica.
  • - 1
 Exploit every inch of quiet single track in America
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