“A daring roller coaster ride with enough elevation to challenge even elite climbers. Phenomenal views and descents!”
— Brad Donze
This area is home to extraordinarily enormous outcrop features, incredible vistas to stop and gaze at, and tons of challenging features to make it a worthwhile feat. Test both your climbing legs and your technical all-mountain skills with a bit of hike-a-bike in some sections (particularly at what is known as 'Pete's Cave', the largest outcropping feature and climb along the ridge).
Basically, you're not done climbing until you pass through this feature. When you reach 'Pete's Cave', you'll think you were 'Merida' from the movie, 'Brave' following Wisps up through an ominous and intriguing cavern. Super, super cool experience!
It's so good that I'd love to ride it twice in one day, but even though it's on the shorter side it would take a good deal of effort and supplies to make that a reality. You'll never be bored on this ride. Just be prepared for serious climbs on this experienced-riders only loop.
Need to Know
- There's more than one way to approach this ride, I chose to drive 0.9 miles from Longdale Furnace Road along Collierstown Road (Route 770) and leave the car where it intersects the bottom of Simmons Road (FSR #334) as this Featured Ride is mapped. Alternatively riders can continue along Route 770 to a small parking area near the start of the North Mountain Trail (#467).
- There is a good share of mountain laurel crowding onto the trail. Bring something to cover you arms and legs to cut down on scratches.
- I rode this solo but would recommend this with a partner or a group for safety and so you can have more fun. Also, don't forget plenty of water, calories and supplies.
Welcome to a great mountain bike athlete's playground with extraordinary views and sights all along the ridge! From the parking area at the bottom of Simmons Road (FSR #334), continue up Route 770 for a superb exercise in effort and achievement! There's steady climbing all the way to the top of the road, enough that the occasional 3% grades mixed into the climb will feel like a welcome rest stop that will allow you to regain your juice before tackling the next effort. Be sure to not overdue the ascent as you'll need legs for the rest of the ride.
Look for the start of the North Mountain Trail (#467)
at the ridgeline. The vistas are incredible here and I'm certain there are hidden nooks and spaces that would be great to explore. Next opportunity I have, I would consider making this a bikepacking trip and set up camp to explore around more.
Alternately, if you have the convenience of a drop-ship, you could have your camp supplies delivered by a friend at the top of 770. Keep in mind, the route to the top is essentially one-lane travel with few opportunities for vehicles to pass each other, if needed.
Near the end of the ridge climb, you'll have to hike-a-bike up stone steps through Pete's Cave (a conglomeration of enormous stone outcrops that form an eery, but awesome cavernous route up and over to continue the trail). At the end of the ridge to the south, you should come straight up to an old wooden sign that says "TO LONGDALE."
After a super fun, winding descent down the ravines and about five to six distinctive creek crossings (no bridges needed with low crossing water), you should see a sign directing you to the right to connect with Simmons Road (FSR #334) to follow the winding gravel service road that leads you back to the lower parking lot. North Mountain Trail (#467)
proper continues to the left and there is the option for a longer ride that way if you're feeling up to it.
I headed right (as mapped) to descend towards Simmons Road (FSR #334) and it was a hoot! Get ready for ravine descent heaven! My only regret was that I rode this on my full-rigid fatty to honor Global Fatbike Day 2017 instead of my full-suspension rig. I recommend the suspension, but you should note, the ravine descent is a fairly smooth (albeit narrow) bench cut all the way down.
Save some juice for this section as there are some nice jumps and great little whoopty-doos before you hit gavel at Simmons Road (FSR #334). The only thing it was lacking was more time and a lift back to the top! From there, it's a fairly easy cruise and one last climb to the parking area.