Ellicottville Loop - IMBA Epic

 19 votes
Building Map
Loading Map Data
Map Settings
Featured Ride

29.9 Miles 48.1 Kilometers



3,127' 953 m


-3,134' -955 m


2,385' 727 m


1,641' 500 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (13°)



An updated version of the 2002 IMBA Ellicottville Epic ride.

Jon Sundquist


Starting in 2015, the loop has been modified as NYSDEC (the land manager) has elected to use parallel trails for the portion where this Epic uses the North Country Trail. It is best to stay off this trail in early spring or after heavy rains.
This loop uses several of the trails within the extensive Ellicottville trail system located primarily within the McCarty Hill and Rock City state forests. This loop is primarily singletrack built and maintained by WNYMBA. There is about 3,000 feet of climbing on this loop, providing challenging climbs following by flowy descents. Many, but not all, sections feature a rocky tread - not enough to interrupt the flow but enough to add challenge.

There are some great views from the ski areas near the start and finish of the ride, and at the south end of the loop are large sections of bedrock breaking off from a plateau creating a "rock city".

Need to Know

Although only about 29 miles, this loop will tax the most fit with the significant climbing and rocky trail surface.


Because this loop uses several trail segments, it is best to purchase a map ahead of time. WNYMBA's maps are available at Ellciottville Bike Shop in downtown Ellicottville. The trails are moderately well marked but require some attention to follow.

The ride used to start at the Holimont Ski Area, but because of new development there, we now show the ride starting from the Eagle Trail which was not built at the time of the 2002 epic, but is now one of the area's favorite trails. This starts on a short dirt road section, but quickly heads left onto singletrack. After a short section, the trail gets very steep, but don't worry, this is short. Overall, this climb is 5% top to bottom, with sustained portions of 10% in the middle, very doable (and fun on the way back).

Near the top, take a left onto Mesa Trail for a beautiful loop with great view, bringing you back to Eagle Trail just past the point where you left it. At the end of Eagle Trail, take a right onto Rain Trail and follow this to the parking spot on east McCarty Hill. Take the rooty connector over to Holiday valley and follow Part of the Holiday Valley Race Loop over to the top of Tannenbaum lift, and then slightly beyond that through the spruce to the communication tower on Mutton Hollow Rd.

Starting in 2015, the route now follows the new Black Trail, which was built to replace the newly closed-to-bikes white trail.. The black trail heads south through challenging rock gardens. You cross the CCC road and after a short singletrack descent, head right for a 100 yards or so on an old logging road until you hit the first of the "pale ale trails". Go right on South Pale Ale, cross the road and do Middle Pale Ale, with its challenging rock sections.

When it exits onto Hungry Hollow Rd, head uphill to the saddle and then left on Rock City Road (all road sections on this ride are dirt forestry roads). Once you reenter state land, hang a right onto the popular Rim Trail - nearly two miles of level (unusual for this loop!) flowy trail. Once you cross Eckert Rd. you are now on its extension - Bent Rim Trail, as you might guess by its name, is rocky.

Once Bent Rim spits you out onto Salamanca Forest Rd. head right briefly until you find a road on your left. Take that road until it ends, becoming singletrack. This is Four Rocks Trail, a scenic and challenging trail that brings you to Little Rock City.

Although you can't ride on the path through the main large rocks, you probably want to stop at the cul de sac and look over the top of the ledges of these rocks. Quite the site. When you've had your fill, head up the road briefly until you take a right onto what used to be the North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail. Cyclists retained access to this section, so enjoy it as it dives between two large rocks and then heads left on a nice flowy (but sometimes technical) surfing of the contour.

After a couple of miles you veer onto the Tornado Bypass constructed to bypass a swath of forest leveled by a tornado in 2009. This bypass takes you to South Pale Ale for some great flowy contour surfing. When you hit the road, ride a short road section downhill to the first left then back up to do South Pale Ale again, the other way. This, plus the retreating up the log road to the left at its end is the only section of trail you repeat.

Next, you'll take a right on ridiculously fun Rocky's Run which takes you all the way to the long fun section called Buzzards Breath and Mutton Hollow Trail. This segues into Yukon's Lunch and finally to Porcupine. Porcupine takes you across Mutton Hollow Road and up to Big Merlin (a right at the junction). Take Big Merlin all the way around the spur, eventually taking in Dead Dog Loop, Sidewinder, bringing you back to the top of Eagle Trail which provides a very fun way to end this ride on a nice downhill note.

History & Background

WNYMBA has been developing this trails over the past 15 years and has become a regional destination for riding.


Rate Featured Ride


4.4 from 19 votes

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Feb 28, 2017
Marc-andré Perrault
Jul 11, 2016
Hans Buehler
Mutton hollow was the highlight- FAST. Mesa so good I did a second time before finishing up
Aug 11, 2015
Khuff Huff
Jul 22, 2015
Aaron Caveglia
Epic route starting at radio tower, skipping 4 Rocks, Dead Dog, Mesa, and Eagle. 20.2mi — 3h 29m
Jul 11, 2015
Nicholas Barnes
Seems like the place has been overcome by the raining summer. Lots of deep holes. And lots of overgrowth, making finding trail entrances difficult 20mi
May 20, 2013
Dave Battista
Great mix of riding. We road the (real) rocky stuff on day 1 and the less rocky trails on day 2. Stop at Bike and Bean for details and great food. 38mi
Oct 18, 2012
Justin Theilman
Jun 8, 2012
Rob Evans

Stewarded By

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 19 votes


  4.4 from 19 votes
1 Star
2 Star
3 Star
4 Star
5 Star


in New York


398 Views Last Month
11,640 Since Apr 24, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Getting forecast...

Definitely the best riding in Western New York. Oct 3, 2014

I have ridden all over the country and I would put this trail system in my TOP 5 All Time (probably Top 3). If you like technical singletrack that just, doesn't quite .... then this trail system is a must for every hammerheads lifetime checklist !!!! Feb 14, 2015

I am editing it now to have it start at eagle due to the construction at Holimont Mar 2, 2015

MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter