Cooper's Gap is one of the best areas in Rothrock State Forest and this ride just touches on the highlights. Extended downhills, flowy technical bits, and just enough logs and rocks to keep you on your toes.
It's not uncommon to have the trails all to yourself, even if there is a full parking lot, as the options of routes in the area means plenty of time to get lost. You also are never too far from the road, even if you don't know it, in case you need to bail.
Starting from the parking lot, cross the road and head into one of the few pine plantations in the Rothrock. You'll soon leave this portion of Shittaka
and cross a gravel road onto Deer Tick
. Deer Tick
meanders through various stages of forest regeneration and climbs off the valley floor. If you are riding in the fall, be sure to turn around and check out Big Valley, an Amish Valley with its patchwork of farms that is only visible when the leaves are down.
At the top of Deer Tick
, take a rest on the rock outcropping, a popular spot for a breather. If you're feeling spunky, try to see if you can trials your way on top.
Go left on top of the ridge and head down to Beautiful Trail
, a ridge top singletrack with several large rock outcroppings to keep you honest. Beautiful Trail
leads to Conklin Rd
, and this ride leads straight across to Chicken Peter
. Chicken Peter
twists and turns along the same ridge, but this time stays off the spine and goes back and forth across the contour. More rocks are the order of the day. At one point, Chicken Peter
pops out and touches Coopers Gap Rd
, but you'll want to stay straight. Remember this intersection, because you'll come back this way on the return.
Eventually, Chicken Peter
hits Coopers Gap Rd
at the intersection of Bear Gap Trail
, and you'll want to get on Coopers Gap Rd
at this point and continue the direction you were headed. After passing Peep Trail
on the left (an option for another ride), you'll see Chestnut Spring
Trail on the right. This is a re-route of the original trail and follows the fenceline of timber sale up to the old route. Turn left and follow the fence uphill until you reach Chestnut Spring
Ext Trail and turn Right.
After a brief climb, get ready for one of the best descents. A short fall line trail turns left onto Brush Ridge Trail
and continues to drop. The key to holding your line is to go fast enough to skim the tops of the rocks. Speed is its own reward.
After about 3/4 of a mile, the trail will cross a small bridge and end up in the yard of Pennypack camp, but the trail continues around to the right. Once again, you'll pop out on Coopers Gap Rd
, and you'll need to climb to the left.
After about a half mile, you'll head back into the woods on Dutch Alvin
trail. This trail meanders back and forth, tying together several food plots and fence lines but eventually finds its way back to the doubletrack that leads to Chestnut Spring
and back to the road. (If it's dry, you can take a right on Lingle Valley Trail
which eventually hits Bear Gap Trail
which you can take back to Chicken Peter
). After Chestnut Spring
, take a left on Coopers Gap Rd
and head back to Chicken Peter
. Chicken Peter
in this direction rides like a totally different trail. Don't get too excited though, as you'll need to remember to cross Coopers Gap Rd
when you get to it this time.
starts just across the road from this part of Chicken Peter
. It starts of really rocky, flat and slow, but that soon gives way to an extended flowy downhill. This is one of the best trails in the forest and again, reward those who are willing to push the speed. There is one unmarked intersection that you'll want to go straight through to get back to the car. Before you know it, you'll cross a small bridge and be back at the car.
The trails in this area have been built and cared for by Rich Wertz and a revolving cast of cohorts. The various names (Shittaka
, Chicken Peter
, Dutch Alvin
) are all Wertz's derisive nicknames for these helpers.