Explore Park is located about 20 minutes southeast of downtown Roanoke, Virginia. From Roanoke, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to mile post 115 and follow signs to Explore Park. Primary activities include mountain biking and hiking. Parking is free and includes two large parking lots; one of which is suitable for RVs and trailers. The trail heads do not include water or restrooms but I assume that the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center does. Cell phone service was strong while in the park. The following Google Map includes GPS coordinates for the trails I have explored.
The beginner trail is a 0.7 mile loop of single track with only about 40 feet in elevation change; between 900 and 950 feet. The trail head is located just off of the western corner of the RV parking lot and on the right side of the road (easy to miss).
The trail is aptly named because it is easy to navigate and only includes a couple of obstacles (e.g., tree roots).
The Main Trail is about 1.5 miles long and connects to the Endurance Loop, Logging Road, Inner Loop, and Outer Loop trails. The interconnectedness of the trails makes it easy to mix up riding routes and control the difficulty of a ride. The Main Trail is classified as intermediate level and starts with a 30 foot descent and then ascends gradually to an Endurance Loop intersection.
For the most part, the trail bends gently and is easy to navigate. However, it does include a couple of tight switchbacks (not seen in the picture below).
In addition, it includes two bridges; one big and one small.
The Endurance Loop is a 1.25 mile single track loop that is the first of several loops to intersect with the Main Trail. On the day I was there, there were signs indicating to ride “one way” heading southeast. In this direction, it starts with a fast 60 foot descent before ascending gradually to an intersection with the Logging Road and Inner Loop trails. My guess is that the “one way” direction is reversed from time to time because it would certainly be an endurance loop riding in the opposite direction.
It is narrow, hilly, and includes a couple of rocky sections.
I came across a turtle that was crossing the trail. I did not get a good look at its head but my guess is it is either a yellow bellied slider or red-eared slider. Do you have any ideas?
In addition to tree roots, the trail boasts fallen trees and tight switchbacks; neither of which are particularly difficult.
The Inner Loop is another intermediate level trail. It is 1.0 miles long with a fluctuation in elevation of around 50 feet.
Like the other trails, the Inner Loop is fast and includes challenging switchbacks (seen below); some with tree roots and some without. It ends at an intersection with the Outer Loop, Logging Road, and Main trails. From the ending intersection, it is a gradual climb back to the parking lot.
On this trail, I came across another turtle; similar to first but distinctly more yellow. I didn’t think much of it after seeing the first one but after seeing the second one I recommend keeping an eye out for them.
I didn’t ride on the Logging Road but it looks like it would be a fun trail to bomb downhill.
In sum, the Explore Park’s beginner and intermediate trails are extremely fun (even if you’re out of shape) because they are fast, interconnected, not very rugged, and only include gradual ascents/descents. In the near future, I hope to ride on the Outer Loop and Expert trails. Other mountain bike trails nearby include: