“A ride covering the primary trails of St. Mary's Lake”
— Tre Johnsen
This trail covers the perimeter of St. Mary's lake. Recently, Pine Trail
has been added, which introduces about a mile and a half of additional trail through the Salem State Forest.
The trail can often be muddy, but there are a number of bridges and pavers to make navigation easier. However, in some areas the mud is unavoidable.
Need to Know
The trailhead is in the park off of route 5 just north of Callaway, not off Indian Bridge Rd.
The trail can be ridden from either direction, but this description covers the clockwise direction. Enter the trail from the lower lot and hit some small rolling hills with rooty descents to the first boardwalk over a wide stream channel on a cove of the lake. Be careful on the boardwalk - when wet it can be slippery. Head to the second boardwalk over another cove of the lake and a ramped bridge that climbs a high banked stream and small steep hill.
Enter the hills section of the trail just past the ramped bridge. In this section there are some slightly longer climbs. Descents are fast and heavily rooted and pretty much follow the fall line. Cross two more small bridges. The second, called the broken horse bridge, crosses a stream, and leads to a long and winding skinny that crosses soggy wetlands. Hit the gas to make it up a short steep climb. Follow the rolling terrain to another long skinny bridge. Once over this skinny, expect some mud until you cross Clay's crossing, a skinny bridge over the Western Branch. This is the main stream feeding St. Mary's Lake. Be careful if you choose to ride this bridge as it is narrow with a 3 to 4 foot drop. Getting onto the bridge can be tricky due to the mud. Turn left immediately after this bridge and cross one more bridge and an optional skinny.
The trail for the next .75 miles rolls with one small bridge before climbing into an old clear cut with small trees and descending quickly back out. The trail hooks to the left and turns sharply to the right crossing a small bridge and stream. After another .5 miles and crossing two springs, the trail makes a short and steep ascent up a small hill and then gradually rolls through one more spring. Immediately it turns to the right to descend a short hill to another stream crossing with a small bridge and some corduroy over another wet area. Just past this corduroy the trail intersects with the pine trail.
Turn left and climb the pine trail to the first logging road. Continue straight through mostly flat terrain, crossing another logging road before hitting the pine trail connector. Descend the pine trail connector back to the lake trail. Turn right heading counter-clockwise on the lake trail for .7 miles until you cross a small bridge with a short steep ascent just on the other side. Once on top of the small ascent, continue a couple hundred feet to a clearing that is the base of the second logging road that you crossed on the pine trail. The main lake trail crosses this logging road, but for this ride you'll follow the logging trail up a long slow climb before turning right onto the pine trail. Follow the pine trail for about .5 miles back to the pine trail connector and reride the pine trail back to the lake trail. It is much more fun in this direction.
At the base of the pine trail, turn left back onto the lake trail in the clockwise direction. Follow the rolling terrain with a small bridge and a short stream crossing before meeting back with the logging road. From here reride the lake trail back to the pine trail connector, but continue past it riding two small bridges over a spring and a stream.
From here it's about a mile before the trail exits the woods onto the dam. You'll find five more bridges in this section crossing over two streams and a spring. After each bridge is a short climb. The final bridge is at the base of a short steep descent.
Exiting the woods and turn right onto a dirt road that crosses the dam with excellent views of St. Mary's Lake. Follow this road across the field and climb to the top of a steep hill and descend the other side make a sharp left just before the base of the hill. Continue .2 miles and cross the last small bridge bearing right and taking a sharp left climbing a short steep hill. At the top of this hill, follow the trail back to the parking lot.