Biking in Green Bank
Home of the world’s largest fully steerable telescope, the Green Bank area is a unique place for bike trails which are often featured in many local rides and races. Starting at the Green Bank Observatory, a paved road with one-of-a-kind views, Observatory Road (1.5 miles), leads to the Green Bank Telescope area. From here, there is easy access to the GBT Trail (0.5 mile), a wide rolling turf trail with views of the Green Bank Telescope, as well as the surrounding mountains and forest. The GBT trail loops back to Observatory Road as well as the beginning of another trail by the name of 300-Foot Trail (1 mile), which is a rolling turf trail leading deeper into the forest before ending back at Observatory Road.
Also, off of Observatory Road is another pavement and gravel track, the Interferometer Track (1 mile), which will take riders past multiple historic telescopes as well as new instruments. From the end of this track, riders can connect to the Galford Trail (~1 mile), a turf trail that encompasses historic farm fields.
Another option off of Observatory Road straying farther from the telescopes is the historical Slaven Hollow Road (2 miles), which is a gravel road up mountainside switchbacks. Within the first mile of the trail, riders can connect to the Back 40 Trail (1 mile), a double-track forest trail with a creek crossing, which ends at the Green Bank recreational picnic and playground area. Just past the entrance of the Back 40 Trail is another connection option for advanced riders, the Reflector Trail (1 mile), which is a ridge top trail including switchbacks and a major ascent/descent. The Reflector Trail ends at the same recreational area. To get back to the observatory from the recreation area, riders can go up Hannah Run Road and connect to Cemetery Road.
If Slaven Hollow Road is followed to the end, rather than taking the Back 40 Trail or the Reflector Trail, it meets single-track Allegheny Trail #701: Cass to Green Bank. From here, riders can go north (to their right) for about 3 miles and reach the Hosterman Swinging Bridge, or south (to their left) for 7 miles to reach Cass, home of the Cass Scenic Railway.
Beginners, families and experienced riders looking for a unique experience would likely enjoy a day of biking in the Green Bank area.
Starting with a 1.5-mile trail to get to the telescope, there are then 15 miles of different point-to-point connecting trails available in the Green Bank area, and more leading out of the area.
The paved, gravel, and turf trails are moderately easy to ride overall as the focus is on the unique views in the area, but the difficulty increases to intermediate as riders stray further from the telescopes because of some ascents and descents. There is one advanced trail available (Reflector Trail), where there is also an easy trail that rides parallel to it (Back 40 Trail), ending in the same location.
What NOT to bring: Electronic devices, including digital cameras and smartphones, are not permitted on the trails due to possible interference with the sensitivity of the telescopes. However, essential, durable electronic medical devices, such as pacemakers and glucose monitors, are permitted.
What to bring
Water, a snack, and a printed map of the area that can be found on the MTB Project website, or a more detailed Pocahontas County biking map available for sale at some local outfitters because the trails can be difficult to navigate (especially without a smartphone). Film cameras are welcome and available in the observatory gift shop.
How to get there
Begin at the Green Bank Observatory (38°25’57.5″N 79°49’14.7″W). This parking lot is closest to the gates, and there is a trail system map in the lot. Start on the paved Observatory Road from the parking lot to head toward the Green Bank Telescope and surrounding trails.