There are hundreds of riding options in and around Harrisonburg, Virginia. But today's suggested 2-hour or less mountain bike ride is a simple out and back on Dowells Draft.
To get to the ride, you'll need to drive about 30 minutes southwest of Harrisonburg. Take 81 South and get off just before Staunton, VA, onto Woodrow Wilson Parkway. You'll eventually exit off the parkway onto 250 West. Turn right onto Braley Pond Road and in less than a half mile the trailhead will be on your right. There is a great parking spot at the the bottom of Dowells Draft trail, which can hold 2-3 large cars. If that is full, you can park along the road in one of many pull-off locations.
What makes this trail so special is a bunch of upgraded trail at the top of the ridge. The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition worked hard to get what used to be a very, very technical trail section rerouted and turned into an awesome section of flowy, yet rocky trail.
You'll climb ~3.5 miles to the top and on a clear day will see a nice view through the trees. The climb up is steady, with a few punchy sections. Once you point your bike downhill be ready to move! The new trail at the top is amazing, with some rollers and bermed switchbacks. It is much more sustainable than the old trail and a lot less gnarly (in the bad way, like steep and fall on sharp rocks, bad).
After the new section, the trail continues to provide miles of smiles. However, a word of caution, as the trail is off camber at sections and if your front wheel gets off the trail, you're going down. Just manage your speed appropriately and mind your front wheel, so you can stay upright. All trails have their risks and that contributes to the adrenaline rush, which makes mountain biking so much fun.
Once you reach the bottom you'll want to do it all over again! If you have more in you, there are plenty of other ride options right off of Braley Road, but if you're ready to head back to Harrisonburg, stop at the Tasty Freeze on the way back to town or take the scenic route back on Route 42 as a reward for a great ride.
More Ride Details can be found here: