Ellicottville Loop - IMBA Epic

Consensus:    (details)
  4.4 from 17 votes
blueBlack  Intermediate/Difficult from 4 votes
Rank: #1 in the Western New York area
#2 in NY, #108 Overall
Views: 9,402. Last 30 days: 436
Condition Details | Update
Featured Ride in the area near Little Valley,
“An updated version of the 2002 IMBA Ellicottville Epic ride.”
Jon Sundquist on Apr 24, 2013
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29.948.1 milesKilometers 3,127’953 m Ascent 2,385’727 m High 4% Avg Grade (2°)
85% Singletrack -3,134’-955 m Descent 1,641’500 m Low 23% Max Grade (13°)
Starting in 2015, the loop has been modified as NYSDEC (the land manager) has elected to use parallel trails for the portion where this Epic uses the North Country Trail. It is best to stay off this trail in early spring or after heavy rains.
3:29 average time for 20.2 miles. Details

This loop uses several of the trails within the extensive Ellicottville trail system located primarily within the McCarty Hill and Rock City state forests. This loop is primarily singletrack built and maintained by WNYMBA. There is about 3,000 feet of climbing on this loop, providing challenging climbs following by flowy descents. Many, but not all, sections feature a rocky tread - not enough to interrupt the flow but enough to add challenge.

There are some great views from the ski areas near the start and finish of the ride, and at the south end of the loop are large sections of bedrock breaking off from a plateau creating a "rock city".
Need To Know
Although only about 29 miles, this loop will tax the most fit with the significant climbing and rocky trail surface.
Because this loop uses several trail segments, it is best to purchase a map ahead of time. WNYMBA's maps are available at Ellciottville Bike Shop in downtown Ellicottville. The trails are moderately well marked but require some attention to follow.

The ride used to start at the Holimont Ski Area, but because of new development there, we now show the ride starting from the Eagle Trail which was not built at the time of the 2002 epic, but is now one of the area's favorite trails. This starts on a short dirt road section, but quickly heads left onto singletrack. After a short section, the trail gets very steep, but don't worry, this is short. Overall, this climb is 5% top to bottom, with sustained portions of 10% in the middle, very doable (and fun on the way back).

Near the top, take a left onto Mesa Trail for a beautiful loop with great view, bringing you back to Eagle Trail just past the point where you left it. At the end of Eagle Trail, take a right onto Rain Trail and follow this to the parking spot on east McCarty Hill. Take the rooty connector over to Holiday valley and follow Part of the Holiday Valley Race Loop over to the top of Tannenbaum lift, and then slightly beyond that through the spruce to the communication tower on Mutton Hollow Rd.

Starting in 2015, the route now follows the new Black Trail, which was built to replace the newly closed-to-bikes white trail.. The black trail heads south through challenging rock gardens. You cross the CCC road and after a short singletrack descent, head right for a 100 yards or so on an old logging road until you hit the first of the "pale ale trails". Go right on South Pale Ale, cross the road and do Middle Pale Ale, with its challenging rock sections.

When it exits onto Hungry Hollow Rd, head uphill to the saddle and then left on Rock City Road (all road sections on this ride are dirt forestry roads). Once you reenter state land, hang a right onto the popular Rim Trail - nearly two miles of level (unusual for this loop!) flowy trail. Once you cross Eckert Rd. you are now on its extension - Bent Rim Trail, as you might guess by its name, is rocky.

Once Bent Rim spits you out onto Salamanca Forest Rd. head right briefly until you find a road on your left. Take that road until it ends, becoming singletrack. This is Four Rocks Trail, a scenic and challenging trail that brings you to Little Rock City.

Although you can't ride on the path through the main large rocks, you probably want to stop at the cul de sac and look over the top of the ledges of these rocks. Quite the site. When you've had your fill, head up the road briefly until you take a right onto what used to be the North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail. Cyclists retained access to this section, so enjoy it as it dives between two large rocks and then heads left on a nice flowy (but sometimes technical) surfing of the contour.

After a couple of miles you veer onto the Tornado Bypass constructed to bypass a swath of forest leveled by a tornado in 2009. This bypass takes you to South Pale Ale for some great flowy contour surfing. When you hit the road, ride a short road section downhill to the first left then back up to do South Pale Ale again, the other way. This, plus the retreating up the log road to the left at its end is the only section of trail you repeat.

Next, you'll take a right on ridiculously fun Rocky's Run which takes you all the way to the long fun section called Buzzards Breath and Mutton Hollow Trail. This segues into Yukon's Lunch and finally to Porcupine. Porcupine takes you across Mutton Hollow Road and up to Big Merlin (a right at the junction). Take Big Merlin all the way around the spur, eventually taking in Dead Dog Loop, Sidewinder, bringing you back to the top of Eagle Trail which provides a very fun way to end this ride on a nice downhill note.
History & Background
WNYMBA has been developing this trails over the past 15 years and has become a regional destination for riding.
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Forecasting the weather...
5.0 (3)
Classic Old School East Coast singletrack.
near Youngsville, PA
4.0 (1)
A great training loop hitting the majority of the Sprague Brook Park trails.
near Springville, NY
4.0 (1)
A short but cool loop with great historical and natural features.
near Sheffield, PA

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PHOTOS of Ellicottville Loop - IMBA Epic
  3.0 from 3 votes
A view of Billygoat and with the Tornado blowdown in the distance from t... (Salamanca, NY)
  2.8 from 4 votes
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  2.3 from 3 votes
Some hand-benched goodness on the rain trail. (Little Valley, NY)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Some of the smaller boulders near Little Rock City. (Salamanca, NY)
  2.3 from 3 votes
View of Big Merlin looking uphill from the switchback. (Salamanca, NY)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Looking down a climbing turn on the Rain Trail (Little Valley, NY)