The Laurel Highlands has some of the best mountain biking in the area but the trail network is highly concentrated. The route described here covers most of the upper trails but has more of an epic scale. It starts a good distance from the area on a forested trail that culminates with a difficult climb on rough doubletrack. It then has a road section, interrupted by crossing the turnpike on a pedestrian bridge that takes you into the riding area.
On the return, the ascent you started with, becomes an invigorating descent to finish it all off. After 44 miles, a post-ride celebration will definitely be warranted. I doubt it is a commonly ridden route, but it is a personal favorite for its variety and because it reduces driving time by starting shortly after exiting the turnpike at Donegal.
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Check ahead regarding hunting and consider that many segments of the route are prone to mud. Wolf Rocks is an interesting outcrop with a view and provides a great spot for a lunch break. Donegal feels like a roadside auto/truck stop but it has plenty of places to pick up food and beverages for before and after. Sarnellis Market at the junction of 711 and 381 is a good choice. In theory, the road segment could be eliminated with excellent singletrack using the Laurel Highlands trail. Unfortunately this trail is off limits to bicycles.
Start at Mountain Streams Trail
. There is ample parking at the trailhead off 381 just outside of Jones Mill. From here, the first half is pretty mild. After about 5 miles the surface gets rougher and the trail climbs about a thousand feet to the crest of Laurel Ridge. There are two points of navigation early on.
First, take a right at Aukerman Rd. (not the sharp right which is another road) and, after a short distance, rejoin the trail on your left. Second, take a left at Sky View Rd. parking area, go down the hill, and turn right on the railgrade. Shortly after, follow the trail past a gate and continue another mile to where the climb starts in earnest. Near the top, the trail noticeably flattens out and continues for a while until you reach the junction with Mountain View Trail and Tunnel Road.
Take left on Tunnel Rd. and continue until dirt road (T341) on your right. Take this and continue straight onto T390, which takes you all the way to the turnpike, where you'll see the pedestrian bridge for the Laurel Highlands Trail. (No worries if you miss the turn off Tunnel road, just stay on the road as it descends and then comes sharply back up to T390.)
Cross the bridge and follow the snowmobile trail to your left. After passing a large construction mound and descending to the right it dumps you onto Marshall Fields Rd.
Right on Marshall Fields Rd. and after about a mile turn left on Hickory Flats Rd.
After you pass the junction with Linn Run Road you'll see an access point to Fish Run Trail
on the left side of the road. Take Fish Run Trail
to the right (left takes you down to the lower part of the riding area). Continue on until the Wolf Rocks parking area.
Wolf Rocks Loop
. Take the Wolf Rocks Trail
from the parking area. You'll reach a junction with several trailheads. Take the right-hand branch of the Wolf Rocks loop and ride the rocky singletrack out to the viewpoint. Enjoy the view keeping an eye out for snakes. Return by completing the loop trail. Back at the junction, look for the Spruce Flats Trail
Take Spruce Flats Trail
until its exit on Rector Edie Rd. Turn right on the road, then shortly after that, turn left onto Silvermine Singletrack
. Ride Silvermine to a junction with Towhee
Trail. (Along the way you can take the excellent Outcrop trail ending at the same place.)
until Lippo's Loop
. Stay left on the Loop trail and ride all the way to Laurel Summit Rd. It's a bit tricky to stay on Lippo. You'll pass several junctions including Bill Alberts trail. Riding straight ahead should do it.
Across Laurel Summit Rd. you'll see a park building and next to it a trailhead for Summit Trail
. Ride the trail to the right until its junction with Spruce Run
Take the left on Spruce Run
Trail, which is a great ride with both climbs and descents, to a left onto Beam Run Trail
Beam Run Trail
terminates back on Summit Rd. Cross the road and access Black Bear, South
on the other side. Turn left on the trail and take it to Rector Edie Rd. Turn left on the road and then, shortly after, right on Picnic Area Trail
Take Picnic Area Trail
back to the Wolf Rocks Parking area. You are now ready for the return starting with Summit Road.
Take Summit back past Linn Run Rd. keeping straight onto Hickory Flats Rd. then turn right on Marshall Fields Rd. and continue until you see the dirt track that brought you down from the bridge. Take this to the bridge and, on the other side, continue back on T390 to T341 to Tunnel Rd until you reach the Mountain Streams trailhead.
Take Mountain Streams Trail
all the way back to the parking area where you started.