This loop begins climbing gradually on well maintained, fairly smooth trails and then goes into a sustained climb through the forest with several technical, rocky sections. Then it goes into a fast downhill with more rocky sections and several tight switchbacks. Once out of the forest, it is a fast, flowing trail through the meadow and back to the trailhead.
Elk Meadow Park has two parking lots. Park at the lower one so you'll not have to end the ride on a climb back to your car.
Head out from the parking lot and take a left onto Sleepy "S" Trail
. This trail is wide and well maintained with a few roots as it winds through ponderosa pines and provides great views of the meadow. This trail leads to Meadow View Trail
where you'll take a right.
Note: When headed up Sleepy "S" Trail
towards Meadow View Trail
there is a cutoff, Elk Ridge Trail
. That trail is a much more technical climb so I would not advise taking it though it appears shorter on a map.
Once at Meadow View Trail
, it is a quick, gradually graded ride to the turnoff for Bergen Peak Trail
. Bergen Peak Trail
is a sustained climb with several technical sections containing large rocks. The trail has great tree cover, so most of the climb will at least be shaded.
Once at the top of the loop, there will be a turnoff where Bergen Peak Trail
continues up to the actual peak. This section is not very bike accessible but there are great views, so if you are up for a hike and bike, go for it. Otherwise, the fun downhill begins with the Too Long Trail
Too Long Trail
has many switchbacks with fast flowing sections between them. There are more technical sections on the way down with big rocks (though peculiarly a different, more crumbly rock than on Bergen Peak Trail
Too Long Trail
dumps out onto Meadow View Trail
where you'll want to take a left. Meadow View Trail
quickly exits the forest and rides along the edge of the meadow with a fast and flowing track that contains some fun bumps and berms.
.4 miles down the trail, there will be a sharp turnoff to the right onto Founders Trail which is a short connecting trail to Painter's Pause Trail
. Be careful with your speed turning onto Painter's Pause because it is a graveled path that can occasionally have a suddenly loose spot and you don't want to slide out. Painter's Pause takes you back to the parking lot with just a short turn back onto Sleepy "S" Trail