When visiting Fayetteville, West Virginia, I didn’t expect to deliberate over vegan menu options. I figured I’d be lucky to get a bag of peanuts or maybe a KIND bar. But at the Arrowhead Bike Farm, I found vegan barbacoa tacos and more — a big outdoor space featuring picnic tables, a campground, goats, a pump track to practice your mountain biking skills and a community of outdoor adventurers.
The bike farm started in 2015 with, appropriately enough, a bike shop and rental outlet, then quickly expanded. “I saw that the property was for sale and the proximity to the new (and at that time underutilized) Arrowhead Trails,” said founder/partner Rich Ireland. Once the team got through zoning requirements, they were able to add camping sites and the restaurant. “I always wanted to bring biergarten and biking culture like I enjoyed from my many trips abroad, especially to Bavaria.” Ireland lives an hour away in Charleston, the state capital, but likes to ride on the mountain biking trails around Fayetteville.
Fayetteville, a town of about 2,800, is quite a cool spot, with antiquing, a historic theater, lots of restaurants and the new Love Hope Center for the Arts. It’s even getting press as a yoga destination.
Arrowhead Bike Farm is the place to go if you want to learn about local mountain biking trails. Its website has a handy guide to several trail networks, including the Arrowhead, New River Gorge, Fayetteville Park, Kanawha State Forest, Cranberry, Little Beaver State Park and Beckley YMCA trails. Options range from a 1-mile loop around City Park to the 31.5 mile New River Coal Country trail, which features a 3,086-foot ascent — and corresponding descent — and views of historical mines.
Riders who want a little more guidance can book a tour with the bike farm. Experts also offer bike clinics. People are welcome to ride their own mountain bike on a tour or rent one from the farm. All tours conclude with a beverage of the rider’s choice.
“Our bike programs are stellar, making us an incubator for future cyclists,” Ireland said. “Our customers are good mix of local families, regional-repeat visitors and tourists. It’s a great venue for all to meet and get an idea of how friendly and warm we are here in West Virginia. We cater to the adventurer and families that have an adventurous spirit.” Customers are split between locals and visitors.
Non-bikers are welcome, too. “With the proximity to nationally recognized whitewater and rock climbing we see more than just mountain bikers stopping by for post-adventure beers and food and camping,” said Pat Strader, part of the farm’s ownership group and owner of a Fayetteville-based marketing and advertising firm.
The food and drink
Since outdoor adventurers get hot and thirsty, Arrowhead’s Handle Bar + Kitchen offers a huge beer menu. The emphasis is on West Virginia brews, like a Devil Anse IPA from Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company in Maxwelton or a Green Tea Sour from Berkeley Springs. Biergarten aficionados will appreciate the different types of West Virginia-made bratwurst. And yes, you can get that vegan. Tacos are another menu highlight, whether that be fish, pork or the aforementioned vegan barbacoa.
So what’s with all the vegan food in a West Virginia town with a population of 2,800? It started with the owners not wanting their few vegan friends and employees to feel left out during their annual pig roast. They put out a sign saying “vegan barbecue,” and strangers streamed in. The menu now includes three-bean salad, black bean hummus, rice and bean salad, big green salads and Asian hottie slaw — all vegan. Veg burritos and quesadillas are also available for vegetarians.
Arrowhead Bike Farm goats
Just beyond the biergarten and pump track live five adorable goats. These are crowd favorites with kids and animal lovers of all ages. According to operations manager Adam Stephens, “Only one goat is left from the original adoptions. The brown one. Haygoat.” The other four — Mary, Grace, Trek and Willa — were born on the property. If you visit, be sure to say hello and give them a pet.
New River Gorge National Park
At the end of 2020, the nearby New River Gorge jumped from national river to national park status. Now the area around Fayetteville is seeing an influx of visitors who want to check out the US’ newest national park. At Arrowhead Bike Farm, the team is considering how the park will affect business.
Ireland and Stephens predict business will increase by about 20%. Shrader doesn’t want to guess a number but is optimistic about the kind of visitors who will be attracted to the national park. “I feel the designation further legitimizes the area as an adventure destination in addition to nudging people to the area that otherwise may not consider it in their planning.”
Arrowhead will probably expand to meet demand, especially for more camping spots, parking spaces and rental options. The team looks forward to welcoming more visitors into this special space. “I believe it has given the community a place to gather and be accepted if you ride hard or not even at all,” said Stephens. “If you just like good vibes and a place to relax then come on out!”
Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat