“A unique gem in the heart of Belmont that is a shorter, tamer version of Back Yard Trail (BYT)
— Vinnie Connors
Rocky Branch is a hand built trail in downtown Belmont that opened in late 2013. It is very similar to Back Yard Trails (BYT)
in topography and has plenty of short, punchy climbs and lots of TTFs to keep it interesting. All the harder, more technical parts of the trail can be bypassed by taking the green / shortcut options. The trail is close to five miles in length and if you take the shortcuts to avoid the more technical sections is about 1.5 miles. New for 2017, there is now a pump track at the start of the trail to play around on.
The trail is very well marked at all major intersections and getting lost should not be an issue. All of the technical sections of the trail have a bypass so you can hit or skip as many features as you want.
Rocky Branch starts at the end of Woodrow Ave at the intersection of Sacco St. near the trail's parking lot. After a short initial descent that crosses a bridge, the main trail takes a sharp left turn and climbs very quickly. The Rocky Branch Bypass is the right option and this shortcut takes 3/4 mile off the total trail distance.
The trail opens to a clearing after another 1/4 mile that runs parallel to a residential fence line and quickly dips back into the woods where a 1/4 mile climb takes you to the highest point of the ride. Once reaching the apex of the trail, a 1/4 mile speedy descent awaits which has a few berms, drops, and jumps along the way. At the bottom of the descent, there is another shortcut that can be accessed to the right which bypasses the next 1/4 mile of trail.
After another 1/4 mile, another shortcut forks off to the left which allows you to skip another mile of trail and a brutal 10% grade climb. The trail climbs for 1/4 mile and spits you out at a scenic overlook of the neighboring high school ball fields which offers a great place to rest or regroup. The trail forks left and back into the woods and descends twice on the way back to the intersection with the shortcut at the 2.75-mile mark.
The trail ascends for 1/5 mile to another intersection with a shortcut which forks to the left. This is the most technical part of the trail due to the man-made TTFs. After 1/4 mile, the trail intersects again with the shortcut and descends for 3/4 mile back to the parking lot. This section is by far the most fun part to ride due to the flowing downhill and nice TTFs, highlighted by a kicker with a ravine landing, a ladder bridge kicker, and a massive log skinny. There is one last intersection with a shortcut at the 3.3-mile mark which allows you to skip last section. The trail pops back out of the woods by the start of the trail and travels 0.1 mile back to the parking lot to conclude the ride.
This trail has been updated in 2017 with about an extra mile of trail and a few reroutes that have a ton of wooden ladder jumps, drops, and rock and stump kickers to get some airtime on. The trail gnomes surely have been busy here.