ACE offers a very special Guided Mountain Bike Trip this time of the year. It’s called “Follow the Gauley River”, and it has to be one of the best rides in the country that just about anyone can do.
Why? It’s 90% downhill.
Where We Go
This tour runs in the remote canyons of the Meadow and Gauley rivers, following an abandon railroad grade. That means it is a fairly wide graveled path that even those who haven’t been on a bike for a while will enjoy. Sure, you will have to do some pedaling, but that’s why you’re mountain biking, right?
The trip starts out on an old twisting road that descends down to the Meadow River to the abandoned railroad tracks. The tracks and ties have been removed, leaving this remote ribbon of a trail that very few get to experience. As you follow the Meadow River you will catch glimpses of the river and rock cliffs high above. If the leaves are changing it is a smorgasbord of subtle colors that will amaze you.
The Old Tunnel
My favorite part of this section is riding through the old Carnifex Railroad Tunnel. It’s almost 1,000 feet long and curves through the mountain. You can’t see the end until you actually enter it and ride a little bit. It’s a little spooky at first, but it is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Once through the tunnel, you will be less than a mile from the Gauley River. Just before you get there, you will see an old road bed crossing the trail – this is the old Paterson Road, one of the first roads in the area that ends at the confluence of the Meadow and Gauley Rivers. There was an old ferry here that crossed the Gauley River that was an important strategic location during the Civil War. The Confederate General John Floyd and his 2,000 men used it to escape the 7,000 Union forces led by General William Rosecrans during the Canifex Ferry Battle that was waged on top of the mountain on the other side of the Gauley. A great story your guide might share.
Next you’ll enter the Gauley River corridor. This is a great ride anytime of the year, but if you plan it during the Fall Release, when they open the Summersville Dam and release a torrent of whitewater, you are in for a very special experience! You’ll hear and feel the roar and rumble of the river before you see it. The trip begins at Lost Paddle Rapid. This is one of the legendary Class V rapids that is made up of four technical drops. You never forget your first time rafting this one.
As you travel down the river you will catch some unique views of the river that no rafter gets to see. You may even get a glimpse of some deer or even a bear. You’ll get to stop by Iron Ring, another Class V Rapid. But the best is yet to come.
Here Come The Rapids
When you book during a release day you will get to stop at the most famous rapid on the river… Sweet’s Falls!!! This 14-foot waterfall is “The Show”. You will get to hangout and watch all the action as rafters try to navigate down the falls and avoid spilling or running Box Canyon. This will take place at ACE’s private lunch site just below the drop that includes restrooms and lunch.
We aren’t talking about just any old lunch, we are talking about the best lunch on the river. Grilled burgers or chicken, fresh salads and desserts. Believe me, the lunch is worth the ride alone!
After you had all the fun you can stand watching the river antics and filling your stomach, the trip continues another five miles down river to the take out.
This trip is perfect for those who don’t want to go rafting but want to experience the Gauley excitement. It is also a favorite of rafters who want to see the river again after rafting it the day before.
If it’s been a while since you were on one, don’t worry. Riding a bike is like … riding a bike. It’ll all come back to you.