For riders who are new to mountain biking, or who have a limited amount of time, this ride is a good option. All trails are rated easy from a technical standpoint, but there are some climbs here that will tax new riders. Be sure to pack plenty of water. Carrying a snack is also a good idea if you are unsure of your fitness level.
This ride offers plenty of flowy descents as a reward for all that climbing. While technical obstacles are kept to a minimum and are usually optional, there are some areas with exposed roots that will pose a challenge to beginners.
This ride has a good bit of climbing and some ripping fast descents. When you are climbing, watch and listen for downhill riders. Some areas have poor sight lines and they might not be aware of you. When you are riding downhill, do your best to watch for climbing riders. They have the right-of-way. Slow down when you approach blind corners. That way, you can better avoid a crash if you do encounter a climbing rider there.
The trailhead is at a low point. You'll start out by climbing. The grades on Pine Loop
are gentle, so starting there is a kinder introduction to the trail. Once you join the North Gate Connector
near the shelter, you'll continue climbing until you join the North Tower Loop
. There's a nice log here that's perfect for catching your breath.
Follow North Tower Loop
in a clockwise direction. There will be a small amount of climbing before you begin your first long descent of the ride. Near the top of the climb is a bailout point to the road with a small parking area. When you begin the downhill, keep your bike under control. It's easy to overcook the turns and you don't want to crash into any hikers or uphill riders. They will not be happy with you.
After this long descent, you'll have three shorter climbs ahead of you before another fairly long descent that will take you to the intersection with Aynes Loop
. This is the lowest point of the ride. It might be tempting to stop here and talk about how much fun that section of trail was, but you'll probably think twice of that in the warmer months. It can get rather buggy down there, so you'll probably want to move along. Keep to the right to stay on the North Tower Loop
The remaining part of North Tower Loop
will be another big climb. Fear not, you have one more descent waiting for you to finish. Once you've made it this far, you don't really have any other options to return to the trailhead. You've gotta climb out of the valley. Stick it out, because the final downhill is a fun one. At the top of the climb, you should recognize this spot. You were here earlier. Catch your breath on that inviting log. Chat up your buddies.
When you're done, take the North Gate Connector
all the way back to the north trailhead. When you reach the intersection with the Pine Loop
, keep going straight and cross the wooden bridge. Just before the shelter, the trail bends left and continues downhill. If you're lucky, you won't have to pedal again until you reach your car.