Also known as the Red Loop, the Pioneer Loop is a combination of cross-country style and flow trails on the west side of the South Marquette Trail system. The ride winds its way through a fair amount of dense forest with the exception of Pioneer Overlook
The route can be ridden in either direction, but pedaling clockwise takes advantage of the fun and playful descent on Freak N Nature
Start this ride at the South Marquette main trailhead, pedal out past the map kiosk and turn left onto the South Parking Connector
to cross the highway. Continue up Benson Grade
to the penstock at the top end.
Stay straight at Pioneer Loop Part 1, rolling out along moderately rooty trail into the forest.
The trail drops slightly into the forest and then follows a fairly straight course into an extended stand of hemlocks. As the route approaches an intersection with an old doubletrack, it becomes very twisty. Take note of your speed as it will be hard to fit your handlebars through at times.
The technical nature of the trail continues past the intersection for a bit and then mellows out to standard legacy cross-country style trail all the way to an intersection with Green Loop and Two Track Alley
Continue straight here as Freak N Nature
nature starts, first climbing as a cross-country style route and later transition to a descent with plenty of berms, turns and small rollers.
Stay left at the top end of Two Track Alley
and enjoy the few last carving features before the intersection with Greywalls
The west Greywalls
section twists and turns in dark forest along an extended rock wall on narrow singletrack. The route follows the top of a drainage, eventually turning north and descending through uniform trees to a road intersection.
Continue straight and notice a golf course on your right. The trees canopy is slightly open here and the trail is more roots than rocks. As the route reaches it's most northern point and bends back to the south, you'll encounter a some open swaths of forest from a long power line cut.
The eastern side of Greywalls
starts at the lowest point of the trail and crosses a few wet areas with short boardwalks. The climb out starts with some longer sections of bridging. The top of the climb is a cantilevered section around a large rock outcropping.
From here, stay left and pedal through Pioneer Overlook
, a distinct section that breaks out of the trees, climbing and descending an open and grassy knoll.
Keep left at the next two intersections, Pioneer Overlook Connector
and Pioneer Overlook - Mossy Connector
to a crossing over the highway.
Duck back into the forest for one last bit of forest singletrack on Mossy
before regaining the bike path and pedaling back to the start of the ride.