Story & Photos: Randy King
Part III – Highlighting the “best” of the mountain’s trails.
Candler’s Mountain and the Liberty Mountain Trail System are located on the outskirts of Lynchburg, VA, next to Liberty University. The mountain is easy to spot from a distance because of two distinct and recent man-made additions. One is the giant LU monogram and the other is the only Snowflex recreation facility in the U.S. Hidden in the trees that cover most of the rest of the mountain’s many ridges and ravines are dozens of trails harboring miles of entertainment and challenge for mountain bikers of all levels. It is a big mountain riding destination; one could ride all day here without duplicating many yards of trails. Please see the Getting There page for a trail map and more details on access, eats and lodging. If you are looking for someone to ride with while you explore the trails, feel free to contact me via the comments feature at the bottom of this post, or at email@example.com
The best part of the recent improvements is the naming / marking of the main trails and the improved rescue-factor thanks to way-point markers and additional fire roads. Also, the most-used single track has been made more sustainable.
Symbols for trail rating:
NOTE: All ratings are based on if the rider rode the entire trail in its standard course. They are more realistic than the ratings published by Liberty University and are based on extensive riding and observation of other riders on this trail system year-round. (However, the trail names are color-coded to LU’s rating – which is based mostly on distance – Green=Beginner, Blue=Intermediate, Yellow=Advanced)
◊ – intermediate = requires conditioned cardiovascular fitness, strong legs and good balance. Experience in riding off road.
♦ – advanced = requires the above and conditioned bike handling skills on narrow and uneven trails. May feature short steep sections that border on very advanced.
♦♦ – very advanced = requires the above and features sections with dire consequences for the rider who loses control. Some inclines will require walking up/down by all but very advanced riders.
Θ – not public knowledge = These trails are not on the map and these names are not commonly used. However, feel free to seek them out and to use the names.
◊Lower Dam Trail - The flowier of the two Dam trails. Swoops along the lower side of the mountain and takes the rider instantly to a good place.
◊Upper Dam Trail – More of a workout than its lower sibling. Rougher as well. For a fast loop, do a circuit of both Dam trails (15-30 min. DOE)
♦Alternate Flight Pattern - A fun, tough trail that dives into ravines and treks up slopes as it winds around the mountain. Hard to follow where the new road intersects the trail.
Best technical trails:
♦♦Split Decision – The main decision for most riders is to turn away to something easier, but this is a rewarding challenge for very advanced riders. This bad boy features steeps on both ends and nary a flat spot between. Lots of logs, roots and rocks.
♦♦The Playground – Boasts one of the steepest sections on the mountain. Bring your iron lungs and any inner-demons you want to scourge.
♦Psycho-Pathé – Technical fun fest. Narrow lines and rougher options abound. Mind-emptying at speed.
♦Lake Trail – The soul of Eastern mountain biking. Side hill, stream-side to lake side. Mellow, with challenging sections to keep you focused.
♦Powerline Loop – This is a torturous climb, especially in the warmer months. Great for building climbing skill and power, though. Finishes with a rough DH.
◊Monogram Rd (from Top Ridge Trail head to the gazebo atop the monogram) – Good section for working on tiered intervals. May make you hate yourself and your bike if you overdo it.
♦Luge Trail to Peak 2 Peak to the gazebo – If you’re in it to pin it, then dive into the woods on Upper Dam and take this route popular with hikers all the way up.
Best Rogue trails:
◊ Rogue’s Gallery (Five Points to Split Decision)
♦Θ Rogue 1 (Snowflex drive Candlers Mt. Trail head) – a fast alternative to descending Candler’s Climb or Candler’s Mt Rd.
♦♦Θ Going Rogue DH (Monogram Rd to gas line / US 460) – don’t even think about it unless very experienced or very brash. Drops faster than the Dow in a recession.
♦Θ Rogue Leader DH (Peak 2 Peak/The Playground intersection to Five Points) – an alternative, shorter descent to Five Points.
Best far-out trails:
♦ A Trail Too Far – an instant classic that is different every time one rides it. A peaceful stream side saunter, pushing the pace brings out the bite.
♦Θ Oil Jug (Its namesake is the only marker for the entry to this back country beauty. It is far out and limited release.)
♦Θ Blind Faith (an old-school, sweet singletrack bypass for some of Lake Hydeaway Rd. Watch for fire road to the right when Camp Hydeaway Rd veers left. Blind Faith is a singletrack off to the left at the top of the rise.)
♦♦Θ The Ghost (You’d feel like Hiawatha or Hawkeye on this extremely narrow front face side hill trail if it weren’t for the encroaching development and city sprawled out below.)
© 2009 Big Mountain Riding