This is one of the more high-traffic trails around Pittsburgh, but for good reason. The entire loop is singletrack that climbs as much as it descends. The trail contains a few trail side features along the route, but everything has a go-around so you can tailor the ride to your skill-level. There are multiple opt-out points if you get tired and want to take a nearby road back to the trailhead.
The trail climbs just as much as it descends, and can be ridden in either direction with no negative sections of trail.
From the double parking lot, ride up North Ridge Drive for ~50 yards. The trail will start on your right. The trail winds up the initial ~200 foot climb before beginning the long flowing ride. The trail is continually marked with red-blue blazes, but does not cross any other trails which makes it easy to unplug and cruise through. There are multiple opt-out locations in case you get tired or run short on time. All opt outs put you on North Ridge Drive, which you can take northward and end up back at the double lot.
At ~mile 6 you'll cross the southern end of North Ridge Drive. If you're pressed for time, you can make a right and ride down to Pearce Mill Road, which can be taken north back to the double lot. If you cross North Ridge Drive the trail will continue for ~.25 miles before turning left (red-black blazes) and climbing to the top of the ridge again. At the top of the initial climb, the trail turns to red blazes and continues up a graded doubletrack. At ~6.5 miles the trail will split between red-green or red. Both trails will reconnect after a ~.25 mile climb.
Just after mile 7, make a left onto red-yellow blaze, but if you miss it, red blaze will reconnect further out. At mile 8 you'll touch back onto North Ridge Drive one last time before taking a right back into a set of switchbacks up to the final, doubletrack decent. This final decent is rocky with plenty of babyheads, but keep the weight back and an eye open for the occasional root and let her rip. At the bottom of the descent there will be a left onto a short piece of singletrack that will exit you onto North Ridge Drive. Take a right down the hill and in ~200 yards you'll end up at the double lot and your car.
Shared By: jeff harding