“A continuous ascent from South Gate Road to Devil's Elbow (just below the summit).”
— Mike Anciaux
Several sections of the Summit Trail are not open to bikes. This trail shows the legal portions connected by the bits that must be traveled on the road.
The Summit Trail starts at the park entrance on South Gate road (750 ft ) and ascends continuously to Devil's Elbow (just below the summit at 3480 ft).
The trail starts as a well maintained singletrack. A short distance in there is a fork that allows you to take the original, more difficult trail (to the left) or the newer, flowy trail (to the right). Both trails will dead end into a fire road in about .75 miles. Take the fire road up through Dan Cook Canyon, past Live Oak campground, onto pavement until you reach Rock City. This is a steady climb without big variations in slope. It is mostly shaded
Turn left at Rock City down to South Gate Rd for about 100 ft where this a well marked trail entrance. Take an IMMEDIATE right to continue on Summit Trail. The trail makes a sharp left when it first hits South Gate Rd. Follow this fire road that turns into a singletrack until it crosses South Gate Rd. This section has some nice views and is a welcome respite from climbing.
You are done resting. Cross the road and continue up the fire road until you reach a picnic area and Summit Rd. You are at about 2200 ft, about halfway to the top.
Cross Summit Rd onto the paved access road. In a short distance you'll reach a park employee residence. Stay to the right and continue onto the section we call Ranger's Grade. Try not to do this during the hot part of the day, it is relatively steep and completely exposed.
Ranger's Grade dead ends into Summit Rd a bit higher up. The actual Summit Trail continues on the other side of the road but it is not legal for bikes. So, continue up on the pavement for several miles until you see an entrance to Summit Trail on the right. This is a relatively short section that takes you to Devil's Elbow, just below the summit.
The bike legal portion of Summit Trail ends here. You can reach the summit by continuing up the road. Or you can take the North Peak Trail
(legal, but challenging, singletrack) around the peak.