“A challenging perimeter ride around the trails in this area.
— Darren Sansay
The elevation change dropping into Phoenixville makes for a challenging little ride you'd never expect to be there. It's almost like a micro rain forest with several nice streams flowing through.
There is a decent amount of elevation change and the trail is often on steep hills with many off camber sections. You can come back to your parking point on a flat rail trail to balance out the ride.
Starting at the west end, the entrance to the woods off the main rail grade can be quite overgrown with hip high greenery in the summer months, making it difficult to find. The west end of the rail grade portion is usually muddy after rain. Much of the ride in the woods is spent on off-camber slopes. The final descent has three or four challenging rocky stream crossings.
As you get near the top of the second ascent it can be easy to miss the right turn necessary to prevent going into the housing area on top of the hill. After a stream crossing you'll be going up a shale rock bed that is nearly impossible to ride (ok - impossible for me) when you need to take the right. The top of the second hill has a 200 foot loop that traverses a wide ditch and has a fun jump followed by a nice 180 degree berm to bring you back.
Right before you start to descend, you come to a four way intersection which is a small circle in the woods. Going straight takes you down a very steep, loose hill - the fast way down. Taking a left leads you to a more gradual and fun descent. Be careful as you exit the woods onto the rail grade - this end of the park has the potential for a lot of walkers as it is a popular area to fish and hang out.
This end of the trail can be accessed from Phoenixville's Lock 60 area as an alternate starting point. You can take the rail grade back home if you are whipped, or back track to stay in the woods. The rail grade has one stream channel cut through at 3 feet deep. On the rail trail there is another medium crossing and two smaller ones.
The west parking lot "closes" at sunset or 8pm (even though sunset can be later in this area). If you know you'll be past closing time it is OK with the park if you park outside the gate. Also, if there are cars in the lot at closing time they set the gate to look locked but don't actually snap the lock shut. If you're last out, please do the courtesy of locking up :)