Friday, July 12, 2013

Mountain Bike Surprise: Ohiopyle State Park

Chatting about the wicked downhill we just encountered
Having lived in the Ohiopyle Area for 8 years now, I have longed to find a decent mountain biking loop that doesn't involve an intense amount of climbing or grassy coverage. After some trial and error I finally put a trail network together that is worthy for any rider in the area to try.

Maybe the best view in the park?
The ride starts out on Fire Tower Road atop Sugarloaf Mountain. You take Sugarloaf Road in Ohiopyle toward Confluence. Once you crest the mountain their is a small sign on the right hand side that says Fire Tower Lookout, turn left here and head up the dirt road. You will shortly arrive at a parking lot with an awesome view of the Laurel Highlands. Park your car here. (If you do this entire ride you will need to park a few cars at the middle take out in Ohiopyle.) Start riding up fire tower road and in about 5 minutes you will see a gate to your left. This is where the McLune Trail Loop begins. The majority of this ride is nice technical single track atop Sugarloaf Mountain so their is actually good flow to the ride. Some sections have solid rock gardens and others are just hard packed  dirt. After about 1.5 miles into the ride you will come to a nice off camber downhill stretch that has amazing views and will get your heart pumping. After the downhill the rest of the ride is on double wide logging roads with some grass coverage. You will end up back on Sugarloaf Road where you have two options: Ride back up the hill to your car or descend down Sugarloaf Road for an epic downhill back to town. If you take the later option, continue down Sugarloaf Road and take the first left on a dirt road. About 25 yards down the dirt road look to your right for a trail, you can easily pass this up because of the thick coverage of the forest. This is the start of the Sugarloaf Trail. The beginning of this ride is through a grassy section with 1 solid downhill and 1 solid uphill. After arriving at the sled riding hill continue on the trail to the left. You will eventually come to a 4 way intersection where you want to follow the Orange markers on a single-track trail. This next section has about 2 miles of rugged downhill with loose rocks galore. Hold on tight to your handle bars because it's a bumpy 2 mile descent. After  you get to the bottom of the hill hang left at the fork and cross over Pressley Ridge Road. The Sugarloaf Trail continues to Grover Road. Once you reach this point follow the trail down Grover Road and enter back into the woods. The trail for the next 4 miles is a mix of single track and double wide roads. Horses use this section often so be prepared for mud. After another long ride downhill with loose rocks you will eventually come out to Sugarloaf Road again. Cross it one more time and a short section of single track will bring you back into the parking lot.

Regulators.......Mount Up
This ride can take anywhere from 1.5-2 hours long depending on how fast you ride. It has a nice mix of single track and double wide trails, best ride in the Ohiopyle Area for sure if you aren't looking to climb too much vertical.

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