Bear Pen Loop, West Virginia - West Virginia Mountain Biking
The Bear Pen Loop is a moderately rated 13.4 mile ride. The first half is singletrack and the second forest service road. The trialhead is off of Gauley Mountain Road, which is a gravel road on the west side of route 219 (about 1.5 miles south of the Elk River Touring Center). The loop begins on the Tea Creek Connector trail and follows a ridge for 1.5 miles to the Bear Pen Trail. At this Point the trail becomes rockier and you start climbing some small hills. At the top there are several huge mud holes, if you're not a mess already, you will be after these.
At about the 3.5 mile mark you top out in a rocky clearing. It's a good place for a break because you're about to start the best downhill on the trail. The top of the trail is a little rough because of the rocks but then smoothes out and drops fast through forest (watch out for the mud bog about 1/2 mile down). There's a couple big turns and some rocky stream crossings, then you bottom out at Tea Creek. After you cross the creek, you'll cross the Tea Creek Trail. You could take this or the Boundary Trail to extend your ride. If you stay straight on the Bear Pen you'll climb the next few miles up double track.
At 6.5 miles you'll top out into a grown over strip mine clearing that's really eerie in the mist. Turn right and ride through the clearing. Be ready for the huge washout across the trail. It's aobut six feet deep and eight feet across. About a quarter mile past the washout, take a sharp right onto forest service road 135. It's very easy to go straight passed this turn because it's your first downhill in three miles. If you're not sure, look on the ground where the trail intersects the road, someone marked "FS 135" on a rock. From here you climb about four miles back to Gauley Mountain Road. Take a right and it's 1.3 miles back to the trailhead.