West Virgina: Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park

Sophia, W.V.

The 8,000-acre Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park near Sophia, W. Va., is a genuine adventure park, with more than 100 miles of trails, a dual-racing zipline, guided ATV tours, rental cabins and more. And officials of the park say things are only going to get better.

“We have something for almost everyone to enjoy, whether they ride the trails or not,” says Lisa Gale, Burning Rock’s marketing director. “But looking at off-road riders specifically, they demand new trails and new challenges regularly—that’s what keeps them motivated to keep coming back.

“Our goal is to add 80 miles of new trails to the park this year and at least 50 miles annually thereafter, so stay tuned,” Gale says.

Earlier this year, Burning Rock announced the opening of five new off-road trails, including a connector into the historic coal camp town of Slab Fork.

The addition of these trails brings the park’s total to 74 trails that are a combined 106 miles in length.

Efforts are under way through a partnership with Burning Rock, the Beaver Coal Company that owns the land and the residents of Slab Fork to “breathe new life” into the coal camp town, which was established in 1907. They’ve formed an active community association that focuses on clean up, restoration and community revitalization.

“With this new direct trail access, opportunities exist for the town’s economic growth as a potential trailhead,” says Woody Duba, general manager of the Beaver Coal Company. “Riders coming off the trail system will be curious to explore the town, have a meal somewhere or learn about the local mining history.

“They can even stay overnight in rentals that are being developed from the original homes as they become available, such as Coal Camp Getaways Cottage,” Duba says. “They’ll have direct ‘door to trail’ access.”

Burning Rock plans to continue developing trails in the Slab Fork area as it continues its expansion efforts this year.

The Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park calls itself “a family-fueled, mom-approved, razz-your-buddies, go-big-or-go-home, beginners-always-welcome, muddy-and-proud-of-it way to have good time on a West Virginia vacation in the New River Gorge.”

Among other things, Burning Rock boasts professionally designed trails that are identified with symbols rating them from easy to difficult.

Green Circle (Easy): Great trails for beginners. These are touring trails, long looping roads with just enough gradient to be exciting. Burning Rock says to expect rocks and mud, but nothing beginners can’t handle. Blue Square (Medium): These trails are for riders who want to step it up a little. The gradient can vary greatly, and you can expect bigger rocks and obstacles for longer distances compared to the easy trails, with steep sections scattered throughout. Black Diamond (Difficult): These trails are for experts. Burning Rock says that some people call them steep, “but around here we call them ‘straight down.’” These trails feature big boulders and sharp drop offs.

Trails are two-way traffic unless otherwise marked. You can take guided tours, although those tours don’t go on the Black Diamond trails.

Besides great trails, Burning Rock has a variety of other activities to enjoy, including whitewater rafting, rock climbing, exhibition coal mine tours, skiing, tubing and the zipline.

Or, more specifically, the half-mile-long Burning Rock Express Racing Zipline.

Burning Rock says the Express “is a rocket of a twin zipline system that picks up so much speed the ground below you will blur. Honest.”

The Express is a dual-racing zipline, which means you can race your friends side by side. It’s 2,500 feet long, has a 300-foot descent, which is equivalent to a 30-story building, and riders hit speeds of 60 mph. Riders must weigh between 70 and 250 pounds.

Burning Rock also has ample trailer parking, a campground with tent and full-hookup RV sites, cabins, showers and restrooms and a general store.

Every rider needs a permit, which is issued as a sticker that goes on your helmet. Riders on guided trips at Burning Rock have permit fees included in the price.

Permits can be picked up at the Burning Rock General Store, which is open every day except Christmas Day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The permit prices before tax is added are: Yearly, in-state resident, $35 Yearly, out-of-state resident, $60 One-day, $20 Three-to-seven day, $35 (Must be used on consecutive days.) Yearly in-state family package, $70 Yearly out-of-state family package, $120 (Family packages include permits for three people. There is a $10 charge for each additional person. All participants in a family package must have identifications that show the same address.)

There are a variety of rules that guests need to follow at Burning Rock to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. They include: All trail users must have a valid Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park permit. All trail users must wear a DOT- or DOT/Snell-approved helmet and protective eyewear. No passengers on any vehicle not manufactured specifically for an operator and passenger. No vehicle of over 64 inches in width is allowed on the property. No alcoholic beverages may be consumed or carried on trails. Obey all signs, gates, and barriers. Only enter and exit the trail system at the Burning Rock trailhead. Don’t enter a “no trail,” no entry area or gated area. Ride at a speed reasonable for conditions. No person shall operate an ATV unless that person meets the minimum age recommendation specified by the ATV manufacturer for the ATV being operated. ATVs and motorcycles must have a properly functioning muffler and USFS-approved spark arrester. Stop when signaled by trail personnel. Carry photo identification at all times. Adult supervision is required for those under the age of 16. Do not litter. Display the user permit on your person at all times. The trail system is open from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year. No weapons or sidearms.

To get to the Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park: From the South or the East: Take I-77 North or I-64 West (the West Virginia Turnpike, a toll road) to Beckley. They merge to become the same road just before you reach Beckley. Take Exit 42, Robert C. Byrd Drive (16), toward Crab Orchard. Follow Robert C. Byrd Drive (16) to Sophia, where it ends. Turn RIGHT onto W Main Street (16). Drive 3 miles. The entrance to Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park is well marked and easy to see on the LEFT

From the West: Take I-77 South/I-64 East To Beckley. Follow the directions above, starting at Exit 42. They’re exactly the same.

From the North, and the New River Gorge: Take US 19 South To I-77 South/I-64 East (The West Virginia Turnpike, a toll road). Follow the directions above, starting at Exit 42. They’re exactly the same.

GPS coordinates: N37.69367 W81.30117

To learn more about the Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park, visit BurningRockWV.com or call (877) 683-9240.