The Marl Ravine Trail – Mountian Biking at York River State Park

Our friends at where they encourage you to “Live like a local and play like a tourist” have found their favorite spot. Here is their article:

The Marl Ravine Trail – Mountian Biking at York River State Park

by explorer and writer C Bada

Just a heads up as you drive into the park. York River State Park has a parking fee.  You will need to purchase a day pass or you can purchase an annual Virginia State park pass.  The day pass is 5.00 and the annual pass is 75.00. Locals: if you are an outdoor person/family the annual pass will get you into all the VA State Parks so this one pays for itself in no time. Tourists to VA – you will have to do the calculations on how many trips to our beautiful State you will make in a calendar year, to see which options is the better deal..but probably the day pass will work out best!

YRSP (as locally know), has many walking/ hiking and biking trails as well as equestrian trails. You can fish in salt water and fresh water, fossil hunt on fossil beach, play on the two playgrounds, launch your boat and can rent kayaks and canoes (but check before you go as there are restrictions during COVID). In the Spring, Summer and Fall the park also has great ranger lead programs that you can find on their website before you head out. The Park is about a 20 min drive from downtown Williamsburg at 9801 York River Park Rd., Williamsburg, VA.

The park also has a visitor center with a cool little gift shop that always has great t-shirts – just a local tip if you want a cool tourist/local park shirt! They have restrooms there as well but for food – you will want to bring your lunch or snacks with you to prevent the “hangries” on your ride.

In this article we will focus on The Marl Ravine Trail a 6.06 mile, Black Diamond Trail that has a skill level of “Experienced”.  If you decide to ride the Marl Ravine Trail, you should be comfortable riding on narrow winding trails. 

This particular trail challenges your fitness level and your ability to maintain control of your bike and good balance.  If you take it slow with a low gear (easy) you will enjoy the trail.  Just keep a watch for other MTBers, and…wear a helmet.

The Marl Ravine trail is approx. 6 miles and has beautiful terrain throughout the trails. The trail flows through a good representation of Virginia coastal plain forests.   Steep descents and equally steep ascents, drop and rise along small creeks and streams exposing tree roots and fossil beds.  There are stretches of trail that ride along 30-50 feet above streams which can be a little intimidating. 

If you enjoy mountain biking and are relatively comfortable riding tight and technical trails, you will not be disappointed.  Keep a watch for exposed tree roots and rocks; this time of year the leaf coverage can make it tricky to see potential obstructions on the ground.

Keep in mind, there are no exits along the trail.  Once you start you will have to return the way you came or continue to the finish.  I would not recommend this trail if you have not mountain biked before or have limited experience.  If you are uncertain about this trail but would like to experience the bike trails at YRSP there are less technical ones that offer the same landscape. 

Here is YRSP’s PDF Mountail Bike Trail Guide where you can find all of their trails:   trail-guide-yorkriverbike.indd (

To find The Marl Ravine Trail, take the Backbone trail that starts by the parking lot closest to the guard shack.  The trail goes behind the guard shack at the entrance to the park.  Follow Backbone Trail for about ¾ of a mile to a post marker indicating Marl Ravine Trail.  Turn right to go to Marl Ravine Trail. You will cross Meh Te Kos Trail – Horse trail.  Marl Ravine Trail will be on your left after you cross the horse trail.

Enjoy the ride!

You can visit York River State Park online before you visit them in person at 9801 York River Park Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23188. Here is their phone: 757-566-3036; and email:


  • Olivia Bada

    Marketing, communications, sales, writing, and web management all come together when working on published pieces for Localourist, The Burg Weekender, The Burg Weekly and Williamsburg Families.

    View all posts CEO

Desktop Ad – 4 Rows

Mobile Ad – 2 Rows