Mill Mountain is located five minutes from downtown Roanoke, Virginia. Activities in the park include hiking, hiking with dogs, trail running, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Parking is free with two options: park at the Discovery Center for a mountain bike loop or park at the base of Mill Mountain off of Riverland Road to ride on the Wood Thrush trail. At the top of the mountain, there are nice restrooms and the Discovery Center includes water too (when it is open). The Riverland Road parking lot does not include restrooms or water. Cell phone service is strong while in the park. The following Google Map includes partial GPS coordinates for hiking the Star Trail (my phone lost GPS signal in the dense forest) but complete coordinates for a fun mountain bike loop.
Starting from the Discovery Center, you can ride in a loop. The following describes a clockwise loop that traverses the following trails in this order: Ridgeline, Riser, Big Sunny, a greenway, and Monument. I estimate the loop to be about 4 miles long. It is my understanding that this loop is used for the mountain bike races held at Mill Mountain Park. The following elevation chart estimates a change in elevation of 300 feet.
From the Discovery Center the Ridgeline Trail is a fast, narrow, and non-technical single track. The subsequent picture shows its starting point.
All of the trails in this loop are primarily smooth but do include a few sections of small rocks and a couple of tree roots. I had no problems riding this loop with my fully rigid bike. The next picture shows the Ridgeline trail’s only switchback.
The Riser trail is short, at only 0.3 miles long, and serves as a connector between the Ridgeline and Big Sunny trails. It has one very tight switchback that I did not attempt on my first ride.
The Big Sunny trail ends with a short climb that terminates at a greenway. Stay left and follow the paved greenway downhill to the Monument trail.
From the greenway, the Monument trail is a long and steady climb along the northern ridge of the mountain. The trail is narrow but not very technical. The biggest challenge is having enough stamina to complete the climb; which is gradual and unrelenting. I needed to stop a couple of times on my first ride; which was my first in over three weeks. I recommend riding at Explore Park if you are dusting off your bike for the first time in a while because its elevation changes are less substantial. However, an active rider should have no problem with the ascents on the Monument trail.
The trail switches from an ascent to a descent when it turns south. The subsequent picture includes one of the few rocky sections on this loop.
The Monument trail ends at a grassy meadow. Cross it and the street to get back onto the Ridgeline trail; which returns to the Discovery Center.
In sum, the Mill Mountain Park offers fun and challenging single track mountain bike trails that are not very technical and, thus, all levels of riders can have fun on them. Nearby trails include:
- Carvins Cove Mountain Biking Trails
- Explore Park Mountain Biking Trails
- Mill Mountain’s Star Trail (hiking)
- Woodpecker Ridge Nature Center in Troutville