Rolling Along: Best Bike Rides for Fall Leaf Peepers
Beautiful biking trails in Greater Williamsburg offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy the autumn colors.
Cool days and the burst of color in the trees make biking a great choice during the fall in the Greater Williamsburg, Virginia, area.
Looking for something easy and flat? Hard and hilly? Care to be in the saddle for an hour? An afternoon? There's a ride for you.
Here are some trails that will be filled with the “blooms” of the season.
The Colonial Parkway
This two-lane road, made of river gravel set in concrete, transports you back to an earlier time connecting Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown over its 23 miles. Most of the ride is flat with multiple stopping points and vistas of water and woods, marshes and herons. Maples, beeches, and several species of oak mark the forest canopy, which can seem aflame with autumn colors. Though the road, a National Scenic Byway, is open to traffic, the low speed limit makes it fine for a bike outing that can be as little or as much of the 23 miles as you prefer.
The Historic Jamestowne Bike Trail
Choose from a three-mile or five-mile loop on Island Drive, which features 11 interpretive stops including a panoramic view of the James River, archaeological excavation sites, and the roosting nests of bald eagles. The ride takes you back to the natural landscape encountered by the English colonists four centuries ago, but also features the "Gallery in the Woods," a series of paintings located at pull-offs that illustrate the earliest industries on the island. You'll pass through thick regrowth and over open bridges during the tour.
The Freedom Park Trail
Looking to get real close to those leaves and challenge yourself? Head to Freedom Park, where more than 20 miles of mountain bike trails wind through historical sites and forests, and along creeks and open meadows. The multiple one-direction courses are well-marked, some more challenging than others. There are a few uphills, but you earn the reward of those nice downhills. What are you waiting for? Go get some air.
York River State Park
Like your mountain bike ride hilly? This is the place for you. Eight miles of single-track trails well-maintained by local bikers beckon. The 1.26-mile Laurel Glen Trail, which passes through a mature hardwood forest (think leaves aplenty!), is an option for beginners, while the Marle Ravine Mountain Bike Trail packs hills, switchbacks, bridges, and jumps into a challenging six miles for advanced riders.
New Quarter Park
Nearly six miles of mountain biking trails here feature tight turns and climbs – though nothing dangerous – through a heavily wooded trail perfect for fall foliage time. The park also offers kayaking and hiking if you need more options after your ride and want to see the autumn colors from a different perspective.
The Virginia Capital Trail
The sprawling and beautiful Virginia Capital Trail traverses 52 miles between the commonwealth's old capital in Williamsburg and the present one in Richmond. In Williamsburg, the trail begins at the Governor's Mansion and follows the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown Island, the site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. The trail follows rivers, plantations and even weaves through Sherwood Forest. Sorry, no Robin Hood, but plenty of fall foliage.
Yorktown Battlefield Roads
Barry Herneisey of Bikes Unlimited in Williamsburg points out that the battlefield roads in Yorktown are great for rides. In the morning and evening, there is little traffic and the opportunity to see plenty of critters – along with oaks, maples, and beeches showing off their fall colors.