Interested in hanging out with us in West Virginia this month but not sure what to expect? Big Bear Lake Trail Center’s recreation land manager Jeff Simcoe shares his insider’s tips on the trails, amenities and points of interest at Big Bear Lake Camplands— the site of Dirt Rag Dirt Fest West Virginia presented by Pivot Cycles.
Dirt Rag: Give us a rundown on some of your favorite trails at Big Bear Lake Trail Center.
Jeff Simcoe: Gene’s Trail – Gene’s is one of our most popular trails. This trail can be accessed off the gravel road that connects the Dirt Fest event venue area to the Pines, or take Fern Trail until it meets up with Gene’s. There are plenty of fun tech moves on this trail that hosts both small and large drops. Gene’s goes downhill at just the right grade. It’s not a brake burner, but it will keep you smiling while generating ample amount of momentum to clear the tech. If you’re looking for more gnar, take the Flowkilla Trail option once you get about halfway down Gene’s.
Crack Trail – This will be the only time in your life where it is appropriate to say, “Do Crack, kids.” This fun trail will have everybody doing crack! This trail can be accessed off of the Dam Connector Trail or from Voodoo Rocks Trail. Crack Trail is a mixed bag of chunk, flow, large rock features, small boost rocks and the memorable boardwalk through the crack in the rock. After the crack, you’ll ride a short, tough section underneath some amazing cliff bands before you start to gradually climb back up toward other trail options. At the next intersection, you can continue on MORE Crack, which is a long descent with an equally long climb out or you can shortcut back out to the Race Loop Trail.
Mother of Crack Trail – MOC is a great return option to get back to the venue area. It packs a punch with a few short climbs and plenty of slow techy section. The ferns on this trail are tall and abundant making it feel prehistoric. Access this trail off of the Race Loop Trail once you’re headed back to the venue. If you want more tech and spice, take the Devil’s Teacup Trail option toward the end of MOC. You’ll be presented with some slow, rock-crawly type terrain — a nice place to take your bike for a walk until you can get the sections dialed.
Voodoo Rocks Trail – Voodoo is one of the most scenic sections of trail that can be found on the Big Bear property. Access this section from the base of the Dam at the big lake heading toward Crack Trail. It traverses through a hemlock forest right next to Beaver Creek and will make you think that you’ve been transported from West Virginia to British Columbia. Lots of natural features with a few hand built sections is what you’ll find on Voodoo.
[Eds. note: Check out MTB Project for additional details on the trail system at Big Bear Lake Trail Center.]
DR: Tell us about some of the points of interest out there in the woods.
JS: The Trail Center sits on almost 5,000 acres of privately owned property. We are lucky to have several different forest types due to the wild topography and elevation. The venue area sits just above 3,000 feet in elevation. Our weather is constantly changing, but we tend to be about 15 degrees cooler than Pittsburgh or Washington, DC, in the summer months. To get a good feel for the natural diversity that exists on the property, visit these spots:
Pines Overlook – ride out to the pines overlook on the Race Loop Trail and you’ll be treated to a great vista. On clear days, you can sometimes see Canaan Valley, West Virginia. It’s a great spot to grab a snack and catch your breath. The coffee ride will make its way out to this spot.
Swamp Trails – You’ll find some unique species of flora in this area and might even think that you’re in the Adirondacks or Canada based on what you’re seeing. The Swamp Trails wind through these upland wetlands with plenty of bridges and rhododendron tunnels to keep you entertained. There may be a few wet spots on these trails, but not what the name implies and well worth the effort. These are some of the easier trails that exist on the property. They’re popular with the kids, and not because they are close to the ice cream shop.
Hemlock Forests – You’ll find this forest type on Voodoo Rocks Trail and Beaver Creek Trail. Access both of these areas just below the base of the dam on the big lake. It’s a nice place to sit and relax for a while. It’s dark and dank down by the creek and a lot cooler than other parts of the forest. The trails in these areas are challenging as well.
DR: What other facilities and features at Big Bear Lake Camplands should festival-goers check out?
If you are coming to Dirt Fest with kids or would like to switch up your activities, here are a few additional amenities to check out:
Big Bear Country Store – Get your ice cream here! The Country Store has all that little stuff that you forgot at home. This is a camp/convenience store that sells ice cream and craft beer.
Barefoot Springs Waterpark – Yes, it’s true that there is a full-on waterpark on the Big Bear Lake Camplands property. From the venue area make a right at the store and travel about half a mile. There is an additional fee to use the waterpark. You’ll find two 350 foot waterslides and a 400 foot lazy river to float down.
Miniature Golf – Directly across from the waterpark is a brand new miniature golf course. This challenging course will keep you entertained!
Swimming – Big Bear has two separate lakes on the property. There is Baby Bear Lake that is about 4 acres in size and has a sandy beach. It is located near the Big Bear Country Store. Then there is Big Bear Lake that is 35 acres in size and can be accessed near the dam. Both are good options to cool off during a ride. Participants could also take the shuttle down to the Country Store and access the lakes that way.
[Eds. note: Click here for an interactive map of Big Bear Lake Camplands, including the Dirt Fest venue, Camplands amenities and mountain biking trails. Use the +/- to zoom/shrink.]
DR: Live music is a big part of the vibe at Dirt Fest West Virginia. Give us quick preview of this year’s bands.
JS: We’re lucky to have some great options for live entertainment around the Trail Center. The bands we’ve hired really like our venue area and stage. Many of the entertainers ride bikes and love the Big Bear trails too!
Friday night we’ll be treated to The Chaga Tea Project out of the Canaan Valley, West Virginia, area. They throw down with a funky blues sound and like to get the crowd jumping. It is widely known that drinking Chaga Tea will make you feel good, and so will this band!
Saturday night will feature the return of Optimus Riff. These guys are local to the Deep Creek Lake and Frostburg, Maryland, areas. They ride bikes, and we first met the drummer, Wade, out on the Big Bear bike trails. They play a good mix of originals and other tunes from a wide range of genres and eras. Don’t miss this band!