Dragon’s Back – 30 miles of Advanced level single track. You have a number of route options that you will have to connect with jeep roads.
Location: About 25 minutes North of Salem off Route 311. This is the big mountain across the street from the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot. You can also access North Mountain from forest service road; Wildlife Road and Broad Run Road.
I like the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map #788 for these trails (also at Outdoor Trails). This mountain is loaded with lots of advanced level single track. There are 6 choices for Steep climbs to the ridge, up to a 15 miles of ridge top trail (depending on where you start, and steep forearm cramping descents. Options to the ridge are 1. across 311 from the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot, 2-4. the deer, grouse, or turkey trail from Wildlife road, 5. Catawba Valley Trail across 779 from the Andy Lane trail, and 6. the end of North Mountain at Stone Coal Gap.
The Dragon’s back race course: Up the Grouse (middle trail), right at the ridge for 1 mile to the Deer, down to the fire road and back to the Grouse, up the Grouse, left at the ridge and then 3 miles to the Turkey trail, down to the fire road and back to the car.
I also like to park at the gate at Wilderness Road. From here it is a nice warm up on 311 to the steep climb across 311 from the parking lot for Dragon’s Tooth. This climb is steep and has a few hiker switchbacks that are two tight for me to ride. But once on the ridge it is a nice ride to the Turkey Trail. Once down the Turkey trail it is a long up and down ride on the fire road back to the car.
And, another route that will have you on some fire roads and pavement is the climb up Catawba Valley Trail to the ridge (Park at the Andy Lane Parking lot). From here take a right for a tough up and down ride on the ridge that will have you wondering if it will ever end. You will finally drop down for a great downhill to Stone Coal Gap. from here you will take a right down to route 606. This will take you to 779 where you will take a right back to your car.