This is now my favorite ride in the area, replacing the Indian Mills Loop, of which it is a slight alteration and is now on my annual must do list. A beautiful ride, with little traffic. This route became possible when the DOP upgraded the Red Sulphur - Marie Road in 2014. The route provides all the beauty of Indian Mills plus it adds beautiful vistas from the Red Sulphur -Marie road and one of the greatest vistas of the state at the top of Route 12 above Red Sulphur Springs. Then you are rewarded with a two mile down hill into Red Sulphur Springs.
This ride takes you thru Red Sulphur Springs, which was the site of one of the original Mineral Springs of Western Virginia. The ride is through mostly farm country, with a little through forested areas in the Bluestone Wildlife Management Area. You have upland farms in the Orchard, Ballard and Bozoo area, and valley farms along Indian, Hans and Blue Lick Creek. Short sections are on 2 lane striped state highways 12 and 122, but traffic is light on these roads other then during commuting times. The rest of the route is on un-striped roads, many are single lane pavement requiring cars to run on the berm to pass. The 0.4 climb (8.8% Avg.) on 25/5 at the end of Blue Lick Creek to route 27 is probably the toughest climb on the route. There is a steep ramp on Co. 27 just before Bozoo, and a couple steep ramps on and Indian Creek Road and State Route 122 also.
In addition to the basic route, a glance at the map will show there are plenty of options to the listed route to add a little variety when riding in the area. Of the optional routes, starting from North to South:
- County 17/2 between Marie and State 122,will give you a climbing challenge in either direction, but especially when heading south.
- Climbing Kibble Hill, whether on 27 out of Red Sulphur Springs, of from Hans Creek on 25/2 is a challenge, with the climb out of Red Sulphur being the most challenging. .
- County 27/2 is a viable alternative to going to Orchard before heading to Ballard, but has a little more climbing than the designated route.
- From Bozoo, taking 24/3, Shanklins Ferry Road, rather than the designated 24/2 will add 2.4 miles and a little more climbing, but just as scenic route. In reverse, you have a steep climb leaving Cty 23/4 on Cty. 23/7.
The route description, as well as the pdf turn list starts at Forest Hill at the intersection of state routes 12 and 122. . At the top of the hill on Route 12 there is a church,and also another church 0.1 miles out Seminole Road that you can park at. Other options to start from are at Ballard along Route 12 in the southern portion of the route are a couple of churches. At the intersection of State Route 122, and Monroe Cty. 25, there is parking space for a couple of cars. At Indian Mills, there is parking at the Bluestone Wildlife Management Office as well as a parking area down by the bridge over Indian Creek.
Forest Hills to Red Sulphur Springs: Heading East on route 122 for 1.8 miles, you drop down to Bradshaw Creek, with a short steep climb out before arriving at a short steep (10%+) ramp up to the intersection with 21/1 at the Summers/Monroe County line. Taking a right on the single lane 21/1 (Red Sulphur-Marie Road) for 1.9 miles , you continue climbing along the ridge with great views to the right. After 3/4 of a mile you top out on the ridge at 2,120 feet with great vistas before dropping down to the intersection with state route 12 at 1,980 feet of elevation. Taking a left on route 12, you are afforded one of the best vistas of the state as you are confronted with a broad view of the valley formed by Indian Creek at Red Sulphur Springs. You are on route 12 for 2.2 miles, 2 miles of which are a great descent down to Red Sulphur Springs. Caution: The bridge at the bottom of the descent has rough expansion joins and a medal plate in the right wheel lane at the far end. Be careful crossing.. Just past the bridge, (0.2 miles) , make a left and an immediate left onto Co. 23 (Indian Creek Road)
Red Sulphur Springs to Orchard: Leaving Red Sulphur on the single lane Co. 23, you have a basically flat, shaded, cruise of 4 miles along Indian Creek back to State route 122. Taking a right on state route 122, you continue along Indian Creek for 2.7 miles before taking a right onto Co. 25 and begin heading up Hans Creek. Heading up Hans Creek on Co. 25, you cross Indian Creek on an open medal grid bridge and begin the gradual ascent up the beautiful Hans Creek Valley. Some of these farms in the valley have been in the same family for more than 200 years. After 3.1 miles on Co. 25, you cross Hans Creek and bare left to continue on Co. 25 up Hans Creek. Continuing up Hans Creek you have one more open grid medal deck bridge just past the Larew Cottage. There was an water mill site just upstream from the bridge. Shortly after passing the bridge, Co. 25 goes left as a gravel road and the paved road becomes Co. 25/5 and you follow Blue Lick Creek to the intersection with Co. 27. The last 0.4 miles to this intersection is a steep 8.8% ascent to the ridge. Taking a right on Co. 27, you bare right after 0.4 miles to continue on Co. 27, which becomes a single lane pavement road. You are on Co. 27 for an additional 2.7 miles before arriving at Orchard.
Orchard to Bozoo: At Orchard you take a left onto Orchard Road, Cty 33, which continues along the high ground with great vistas to Ballard. Arriving in Ballard, you take a left on state route 12. Just after turning left onto route 12, there will be a store on the left, your only option for food and water after leaving Forest Hill. Past the store you start downhill, but look for the red and white building that houses the volunteer fire department. Take a right in front of the building on Cty.24, Pinhook Road. Route 24 is undulating and has a fair climb on it before arriving at the intersection that constitutes Bozoo, which is also the high point of the ride at 2,214 feet elevation.
Bozoo to Forest Hills: At the intersection, you go straight onto Cty. 24/3, Shanklings Ferry Rd. (County 24/2, Shumate Rd. goes right at this intersection is 2.1 miles shorter and is an alternative route.). After a couple miles on Co. 24/3 you have a short steep descent and a right turn onto Co. 23/5, Indian Mills Rd. Continuing straight takes you to a camping area. Taking a right on Indian Mills Rd, which you will be on for the next 8.2 miles, you have a short steep climb and a nice cruise though farming area, before another descent and climb. At the top of this climb, Co. 23/7 Shumate Rd. comes in from the right. On this next section there will be a sharp turn blind turn at the bottom of a descent that always has gravel in it. There is a road to a campground that goes straight at this turn. The first 2.9 miles is overall downhill to Indian Creek, but with a couple ramps to climb. You cross Indian Creek on a rough surfaced concrete bridge and pass the headquarters of the Bluestone Wildlife Management Area on the left and followed by another ramp that gradually goes to 9%. Another 2.9 miles and you arrive at the intersection of state route 12. You take a left on route 12 and begin a slight uphill for a mile, before the last 0.6 mile climb (7%) to the finish at the intersection of State 12 and 122.