Family Friendly: This section in particular has some great bridges and scenery that kids will love, particularly the trails adjacent to Lake Ann. The Spillway waterfall is also very nice...creeks are always fun!
I want to emphasize one thing. The Back 40 Loop is great in either direction. HOWEVER, if you intend to ride The Ledges
on your loop, then you may want to start at Blowing Springs and go counter clockwise. That will set you up to ride that trail in a good direction, and still make the Back 40 Loop. To ride counter clockwise, simply reverse the directions that are outlined below.
CLOCKWISE: Start at Blowing Springs. From the parking lot, you can either ride up the paved road past the gatehouse, or follow one of the multiple loops to get to the NE trailhead kiosk. From here, make a short climb on the small lollipop North Loop at Blowing Springs to get to the "Back 40 Loop" sign.
From here, continue on to the flowing climb that's not steep, and cross Kingsland. Dropping in off Kingsland, you'll encounter some nice flow and speed as you descend into the valley. This leads you to a cool, narrow rock ledge than runs along a creek bed. From there, it's rolling terrain until you cross Trafalgar.
Once again, you'll encounter another fun, steep descent as you drop in off Trafalgar. If you have some "play time" or surplus energy and want to see some picturesque bluffs and more fun trail, head down Summit School
, which is a short loop that will bring you back to the Back 40 Loop. Follow the Back 40 Loop signs and climb up to Buckingham.
Cross over and descend along a long power line right of way, and ultimately make a hard right turn into a section with two deep gravity cavities with wooden bridges at the bottoms of them. There is an alternate line around the deeper one if you aren't comfortable with that much speed. Shortly after, you'll get to the "bluff bridge," which is a structure that is integrated into the side of a rock bluff! Some serious engineering went into this feature, and it's a great place to stop and rest a bit.
Leaving the bridge, you have some great flowing trail that gives way to two options: 1) A technical, hand-cut high line or 2) A flat low line.
Next you'll ride below the Lake Ann Dam and cross over to the new bridge that spans the spillway waterfall. You'll want to stop here for some pictures and to look around a bit. Continue and climb this steep section (only super-humans will avoid the hike-a-bike at one point) to Hwy 340 and you've completed section 3!
Again, this loop is great in either direction, so ride it both ways to get the full experience!