Lake Hope Mountain Bike Trail
If you own a mountain bike, Lake Hope State Park near Vinton and Athens County, Ohio is a great destination to test your skills. With more than 25 miles of singletrack open to mountain bikes, there are plenty of riding options at Lake Hope. Here are a few ideas to get you started. (All mileage is approximate.)
Lake Hope ride suggestions and bike trail map courtesy of Athens Bicycle Club:
Hope Furnace Trail Loop (4.5 miles/6.5 miles)
Hope Furnace Trail hugs the lakeshore, providing beautiful views and not much elevation gain. Technical bridge crossings, roots, and a few short, steep ups-and-downs keep you on your toes (and we hope not on your head). As this is one of the park's most heavily used trails, be sure to yield to hikers and to look out for other cyclists.
Park either at the Furnace Parking Lot or the Trailhead Parking Lot. Ride the trail in one direction and return to your starting point via State Route 278 (total ride mileage ~4.5 miles), or double back and enjoy the trail in the opposite direction (total ride mileage ~6.5 miles).
Copperhead Loop (10 miles)
This loop features fantastic ridgetop riding on Copperhead Trail. Be careful — tight turns come up unexpectedly on this trail. This loop also will let you roll alongside the lake on Hope Furnace Trail — then you'll push your bike up Grouse Point Trail to finish the loop.
Park at the Grouse Point Picnic Area near the Copperhead/Little Sandy intersection. Ride Copperhead Trail until you cross Lake Ridge Road. Continue on Copperhead for almost 4 more miles, eventually taking a right on Habron Trail. Follow Habron for 1.1 miles, then turn right onto Hope Furnace Trail. Ride for 1.5 miles, watching for the Grouse Point intersection. Take a right and push your bike up this steep hill and you've finished the loop.
Sidewinder Loop (5.5 miles)
This twisty trail is full of tight turns, steep climbs and descents, switchbacks, roots, fun little dips and a tricky bridge crossing. Because Sidewinder is a climb from the Trailhead Parking Lot to Cabin Ridge Road, it's become most popular in the opposite direction (but there are those of us who like to climb it, too).
From the Trail Head Parking Lot, ride up the paved Cabin Ridge Road, through the vacation cabins, to the Little Sandy/Copperhead intersection (almost 2 miles). Turn left onto Little Sandy; nearly immediately you'll see Sidewinder heading into the woods on your left. Follow Sidewinder to the Trailhead Parking Lot.
The Old Big Loop (16 miles, and equally fun in either direction)
This loop features some of the best mountain bike trails at Lake Hope: Hope Furnace, Habron, Copperhead, and Sidewinder. And, if once isn't enough, simply turn around and ride the loop in the opposite direction — you'll log more than 30 miles of sweet southeastern Ohio singletrack.
Begin at the Furnace Parking Lot and ride Hope Furnace Trail for approximately .7 miles. Watch out for bridges — they might be slippery or have steps! At the Habron intersection, turn right and continue on Habron past the Red Oak intersection. Climb up a fun switchback (it's a doer!), continuing on up the ridge to the Copperhead intersection. Turn left onto Copperhead and let some fun, fast ridgetop riding begin. Watch out for tight turns at high speed! Cross Lake Ridge Road and continue on Copperhead. You'll notice several signs that point you out to Long Ridge Road – either continue on Copperhead or bail out to the gravel road at any of these points. Eventually, Copperhead will end at the Grouse Point Picnic Area. Cross over Cabin Ridge Road onto Little Sandy. Very soon you'll see the Sidewinder intersection on your left. Follow Sidewinder to the Trailhead Parking Lot, then take a left onto the paved road and ride past the Beach House to the entrance to Hope Furnace Trail (approximately .6 miles on paved road). Follow Hope Furnace Trail 3.25 miles back to the Furnace Parking Lot.
The New Big Loop (the Figure Eight Loop, 15 miles, and equally fun in either direction)
This loop features the two newest trails to be built at Lake Hope: Bobcat, added during the 2003-04 winter season, and Wildcat, added during 2004.
Park at the Grouse Point Picnic area. Ride up the road a few hundred feet until you see the Wildcat connector trail on your right. Ride that a very short distance to the Copperhead/Cabin Ridge Road intersection. Turn right onto Copperhead and ride Copperhead 3.5 miles to Lake Ridge Road. Across the road you'll see two trails: Copperhead and Bobcat. Take Bobcat (along which you'll have the option to explore lower Bobcat, a short technical interlude) back out to Lake Ridge Road (this section of Bobcat is very short) and cross the road to continue on Bobcat (another very short section) back out again to Lake Ridge Road. Cross the road and again head out on a 2-mile mostly downhill section Bobcat. It's totally sweet! At the bottom, go left onto Habron, cross the creek, climb the hill, do the switchback, and continue climbing on Habron to the Copperhead intersection. Go left on Copperhead and ride 3.5 miles back to Lake Ridge Road. You've done 3 sections of the figure eight at this point and it's time to close it up. Across Lake Ridge Road you'll see Wildcat on your left and Copperhead on your right. Cross over to Wildcat and ride 3.5 miles back to your car, ending with a killer climb. (Or, start the figure-eight loop here, heading down this fun hill.) No wonder these trails were ranked No. 1 in Ohio by Mountain Bike Quarterly magazine!
Ride the Ridgetop (various distances)
If you'd like to practice your singletrack skills without riding up major climbs or riding for a long period of time, drive to the top of the ridge and ride some of Copperhead Trail. Park either at the Cabin Ridge Road / Little Sandy intersection or along Long Ridge Road near the Lake Ridge Road intersection. Ride the 3.5-mile section of Copperhead that runs between those two roads in either direction for a good beginner practice section.
Good Things to Know
There are several "bailout" options on the Lake Hope trails. From these you can easily access park roads that will take you back to the main parking lots. (See map for further information.)
- From Sidewinder: Approximately 1.25 miles from the Cabin Ridge Road intersection you can hop off Sidewinder and walk or ride a few hundred feet to Cabin Ridge Road. OR, just a bit further down the trail, you can take the Cabin Ridge Road Connector out to Cabin Ridge Road (or over to Little Sandy Trail).
- From Copperhead: There are several intersections and near intersections with Long Ridge Road, which will eventually intersect with Cabin Ridge Road and take you back to the Trailhead Parking Lot.
- From Hope Furnace Trail/Cabin Ridge Road: Grouse Point, Oak Point and Keeton Trails all are steep, quick connectors between Hope Furnace Trail and Cabin Ridge Road.
Lake Hope Mountain Bike Trail
For a black and white map printable version, click here. (coming soon)
Athens Bicycle Club Information on Lake Hope Trails
The Lake Hope Trails are multi-use trails, and users should observe the International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA) Rules of the Trail:
- Ride on open trails only.
- Leave no trace.
- Control your bicycle.
- Always yield trail.
- Plan ahead.
- Never scare animals
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