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Where to ride: Put your biking mettle to the pedal

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Want to go for a bike ride? Here are some places you can put your foot to the pedal.

Kanawha State Forest

Directions: From downtown Charleston, cross the Kanawha River on the South Side Bridge. At the end of the bridge, turn left on Loudon Heights Road and continue to the "T" intersection with Bridge Road. Go left on Bridge then take the first right, onto Connell Road. At the bottom of Connell, take a sharp left onto Kanawha State Forest Road and continue to the entrance. Brown and white signs also mark the way. Total distance about 7 miles.

Inside the forest biking is allowed on roads and mountain biking on trails.

Kanawha City

The bike route is a 7-mile loop in Kanawha City following the right of way on quiet residential streets and is a flat route for riding. The route is marked by green bike route signs and arrows.

Directions: From the 57th Street trailhead, on the river side of MacCorkle Avenue, ride west on Kanawha Avenue. At the end of Kanawha Avenue, the route turns left, then right, onto Virginia Avenue going under the 35th and 36th Street bridges. The route then turns right at 33rd Street and back onto Kanawha Avenue, affording views of the Kanawha River and the Capitol in the distance.

Turn left onto 29th Street, then right onto Frontage Road, then right onto 27th Street (just before the entrance to MacCorkle Avenue). Veer left onto Kanawha Avenue heading toward the University of Charleston.

At the school veer left and left again onto Cherokee Avenue. This takes you back to Frontage Road and you reverse your route until you reach 37th Street. Continue straight on Virginia Avenue, enjoying the many tree-lined stretches as you ride through quiet neighborhoods. The route does a few turns around 45th and 47th streets, but soon you are back on Virginia Avenue, heading east toward the 57th Street trailhead.

Time: Up to an hour, depending on stops to admire the views. Suited for everyone. The route is on city streets; children and adults alike should take care.

Coonskin Park

Ride to Coonskin Park and back using some back roads with less traffic on them. This ride can be done on a mountain bike or a road bike, but preference should be given to the mountain bike due to the roughness of the Elk River Trail and the lower gearing for the steep uphills at Woodland Circle and Bakers Fork. The tour starts in the warehouse district of Charleston, then goes along the Elk River, Coonskin Park, Bakers Fork Road and Wertz Avenue. Distance: About 14 miles.

Directions: From Capitol Market, ride east on Smith Street to Morris Street, left on Morris Street, left on Piedmont Road and then right on Slack Street. Follow Slack Street all the way to the end, where Coonskin's Elk River Trail starts. Follow the trail into Coonskin Park, past many beautiful river and hillside scenes.

In the park, go left up the hill to Woodland Circle. Ride all the way around Woodland Circle, and back down the hill. Turn left on Coonskin Drive to leave the park toward Greenbrier Street. Follow Coonskin Drive all the way to the bottom of the hill. Ride straight across Greenbrier Street at the traffic light to Rutledge Road. For refreshments, stop at Go-Mart.

After a short distance, bear right on Bakers Fork Road, follow it all the way to the end and ride up the final hill to Oakridge Drive. Turn right on Oakridge for just a little way to the top of Wertz Avenue, then left on Wertz. Follow Wertz Avenue all the way down to Kanawha Boulevard (which is a much-welcome downhill after all the uphills to this point). Go right on the Boulevard to Capitol Street, turn right and return to Capitol Market.

Time: One to two hours, depending on speed and your number of stops. The best time to do this is a weekend or weekday not during rush hours.

The route is suited for anyone comfortable riding a bike on streets and roads with light to moderate traffic and with the ability to climb a few hills.

Alternatives: To make this course a flat ride, cut out the hills of Coonskin, reverse course and return along Slack Street to town. For road riders weary of riding on dirt, a detour on Keystone Drive and Greenbrier Street (W.Va. 114) will bypass the gravel of the Elk River Trail.

Little Creek Park

Directions: From Charleston, go west on Interstate 64. Take the Kanawha Turnpike exit. Continue west on the turnpike to Spring Hill Avenue, South Charleston. Take a left onto Spring Hill. At the "Y" split, bear right and go to Little Creek Park Road. Take a left. The 300-acre park has road biking and about 15 miles of mountain biking trails.


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