“All of the best climbs and all of the best downhills in one ride.”
— David Kutassy
Beautiful scenery, brutal climbs and exhilarating downhills. This ride has all of the best climbs and epic downhill fun. You can also see miles of mountains from the overlook at the highest point in the park.
Unlike many areas where you can mountain bike, all of Byrom's trails require brutal climbing. Choosing which trails to climb and which to descend is critical to having the best experience. This Featured Ride has you covered!
Need to Know
Even though Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve is pretty close to civilization, it truly is a remote area. You'll more than likely see at least one bear and there have been poisonous snakes spotted in the park sun bathing on the many boulders you'll pass. This park also butts right up to the Blue Ridge Mountains and weather can change in an instant. In summer, storms can suddenly come over from the west side of the mountains leaving you with very little time to get back down to lower ground. When riding here, be prepared the same as if you were in deep backcountry.
I hate to repeat so many trails, but its difficult not to at Patricia Ann Byrom park. Following this route will let you experience the best of everything in this trail system. It also allows for somewhat of a warm up before hitting the hardest climbs up Blackwell's Trail
and the top of Little Flat Mountain Loop
From the parking area, starting up Great Mountains Trail
is easy rolling for Byrom. It's still plenty steep, but its hardly a taste of what's to come. Keep left on steep rolling terrain to the beginning of Little Flat Mountain Loop
. Turn right and immediately begin a serious climb up this fire road. Fortunately, it won't take long before you're on some level, smooth riding, dirt.
Enjoy this while it lasts. You'll be shot straight back up some more steep, rocky terrain before you reach a newly built section of switchbacked trail. This new section of trail was machine-made and very well shaped to be sustainable and rideable for mountain bikers. From there, you're pretty much up to the picnic area. Stop and enjoy a break if you wish, but downhill fun awaits!
Next, you'll be riding down Crooked Tree Trail
trail. It is an intense singletrack descent with tight squeezes with trees and gigantic boulders, super tight switchbacks, and very steep grades. This is an exhilarating trail that will leave you wanting more when you reach the bottom.
Now that you got your first taste of P.A. Byrom Forest Preserve, it's time to ride 1,200 vertical feet up to the highest point in roughly two miles. Make the right exiting Crooked Tree Trail
and stay straight until you reach Blackwell's Trail
. This trail starts immediately up the mountain with steep grades on wide doubletrack trail. There are sections that level out between climbs, but its still a relentless battle against gravity. About halfway up, Blackwell's Trail
transitions to singletrack where you'll have some technical rocky sections but a more shallower grade.
Once at the top of Blackwell's Trail
turn right onto Little Flat Mountain Loop
trail to ride up the Strava segment known as the "Shaley Wall of Agony." This section is formed by three individual steep climbs with hardly any time to rest in between. The second climb is without a doubt the hardest and only the best of the best will clean the middle section of this climb. When you top out from the third climb you're at the summit!
Take a break at the overlook thats only a few hundred feet down trail from where you topped out. Enjoy the views and psych yourself up for about 15 minutes of nothing but downhill.
The most technical rock gardens and steep shoots are all right near the top. There are some narrow gaps between large rocks that require some precision riding over the rough terrain. Pass straight through the picnic area from earlier and enjoy a mix of flowing machine cut trail and straight rocky fire road just before turning left onto Blue Ledge Trail
This trail goes back to steep rocky singletrack and includes a bridge crossing over a mountain stream. There are some large rocks, steep shoots and tight corners to make you second guess how much you really want to let go of the brake levers. Some sections of trail do open up with great sight lines, so open up those brakes and enjoy the free fall! Take a left at the end of Blue Ledge Trail
to head back down the switchbacking Great Mountains Trail
to the parking lot.
History & Background
To learn more about Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve's back story, click here