In the second week of April, I (Kyle) made my first EVER trip down to Douthat State Park. However, this wasn't some haphazard trip, it was epic.
It all started in April of 2017 when my buddy, Ben, had the idea of renting out the Douthat Lodge for April of 2018. The Douthat Lodge is the biggest and most secluded cabin in Douthat State Park. It's in such high demand that you have to rent it a year in advance! Which is what we did. We locked in the cabin and planned to invite 15 friends along for an amazing weekend.
And that's exactly what happened.
After an enormous Costco run, we loaded up the Bluestone Bus and headed down to meet friends from Richmond, Asheville, and PA in Douthat.
Our cabin was at the top of the park, with it's own road and everything. It was built years ago by the CCC, but has been modernized to be able to accommodate a large group. One of the selling points of this cabin, is that you have direct access to the trails. The trail is literally right out the front door of the cabin and is called "The Guest Lodge Trail".
Arriving Thursday night, we got in a short night ride on the Mountain Top and Mountain Side trails. The terrain is pretty steep, which makes for tough climbs, but awesome descents! Excited for the next day's big ride, we finished unpacking, looked over maps and then called it a night.
The next morning (Friday) started off with a bang, no water... Thankfully before the water disappeared Ben had made the coffee. It turns out the computer went bad in the water reservoir for the cabin. The Park Ranger fixed it and we had water an hour later. Once the water was flowing we made our breakfast (Asian noodles, eggs, bacon, and OJ - we did it right!) and prepared for the ride. We were on the trail by 9:30am.
Our Route>> Day 2 Morning
The ride was around 20 miles and had plenty of great climbs, beautiful views, and unforgettable descents.
After a short lunch at the cabin, we set-up a shuttle for the second part of the day. We dropped the Bluestone Bus at the end of the Beards Mountain trail and ran back to start, what we would soon find out, a very tough ride. The trail conditions on Beard's Mountain were sub-par with lots of downed trees and overgrowth; however, we persevered and it made completing the ride, that much more rewarding.
Friday night's lasagna dinner was the prize for a full day of Douthat riding!
Much like the first night, we poured over the maps and reviewed the route for the next morning. We all slept well and ate a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon to fuel up for Day 3's Middle Mountain ride.
This ride started off with a wicked descent down Beards Gap, which earned a position on my list of favorite trails. We climbed up Stony Run to the breathtaking views of the Tuscarora Overlook and then jumped on the Middle Mountain trail. I'd like to have a do-over on that trail, as it was fun, but I was spent, ha!
We finished up the ride and took a dip in the lake. It was freezing! But it felt good on my tired legs. Some of our group was crazy enough to fully submerge in the water, I was not one of them!
We took the rest of the day off, relaxing at the cabin, preparing dinner, and reflecting on the trails. We built a fire and stayed up way to late.
The next day we all headed back to the real world. It was a successful trip (did I mention we had ZERO mechanicals) and with out a doubt the best way to introduce me to the wonderful trails at Douthat State Park. I'll be back!