My Solo Ride in Bald Eagle State Forest (lots of pix)
(updated: Nov 21, 2006)
Sunday Oct 8 --
The weather was perfect in central PA. 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Fall colors were starting to peak up in the mountains. Bald Eagle State Forest is really close to where my mother in law lives so I bring my bike with me every time I go there. The park is big and probably has 50 miles or more of trails. I was able to only ride on a few of them and it took me hours. Not because they were very long but because they were so rocky you couldn't go fast, and I stopped a lot to take photos. And by rocky I mean the trails were just rocks upon rocks. Hardly any dirt. I was so glad I had a 6" travel bike. I can't imagine trying to do this on a hardtail. You wouldn't be sitting much.
There are not very many mountain bikers here, as evidenced by the overgrown condition of some of the trails. You can also tell that mtn bikers did not design these trails because many are straight or have minimal turns. Granted, this follows from the terrain, which if you look at a shaded relief map of the Appalachian mountains running through PA you can see they form a striped pattern, which runs diagonally across the state, NE to SW. The trails basically follow the ridgelines. Consequently the trails with the steepest grades and thus the ones I enjoyed going down are the ones that run roughly perpendicular to this pattern, or N-S.
If there were more mountain bikers or they were better organized, I think they could create or reroute some of these trails and make them truly stellar. They could route trails over steeper terrain, adding switchbacks and making them more unpredictable and fun. But most folks around these parts don't mountain bike or simply don't know anything about it, and hunt and fish instead.
There were a lot of people driving on the fireroads, but I didn't see anyone on the trails except at the very start and hunting is prohibited on Sundays, so I don't know what they were doing except maybe just enjoying the fall colors.
And that's one good thing about state parks in PA: no entry fees. You just drive right in. Where I parked at the R. B. Winter State Park (a park within a park?) there's also camping areas. And along the park's roads at the start/end of the trails were nice cabins that you can reserve. When I'd come to the end of the trail I'd be right at a cabin and it was like I was in someone's yard.
So here's a link to a really good map of the area: Mountain Bike Trails of the Bald Eagle State Forest (Northern Part).
From this map you can see that the mountains top out at just over 2000ft above sea level, with some of the troughs by the creeks around 1200ft, meaning I did some serious descending and climbing! Because the trails were so rocky, I tended to stick to the roads for the climbing. Working your way up the rocks really saps energy, and you can only do that for so long.
I was so lucky with the weather. The mountain biking gods always seem to smile upon me in that regard.
So without further ado here are some of the better photos I took. I think I took at least 60 photos. You can see more photos by clicking on the PHOTO GALLERY or clicking RIDE INDEX --> PA --> Bald Eagle State Forest (Northern).
The Old Tram Trail:
Old Tram Trail, marked with a blue cross-country ski symbol:
Beautiful fall colors:
Look at these rocks. The other half are covered by leaves:
The rocks were relentless. The trail went on like this for miles:
Old Tram joins with Rocky Bottom, a fun downhill
Rocky Bottom Trail:
More fireroad. The pictures just don't do it justice. It is so intensely colorful in person.
Cowbell Hollow Trail:
Trail is lined with blueberry bushes. I wondered about running into a black bear deep in the woods.
Self-portrait on the Cowbell Hollow Trail:
Log crossing. There were lots of these. Many, however, were downed trees and not crossable and need to be cleared.
White Deer Creek:
Top Mountain Trail:
The RFX in its native habitat:
Vista looking NW toward the Cowbell Hollow Trail where I had just come from:
These are all very large trees - oaks, maples, etc. They look like little bushes here:
Glen Cabin Trail. A steeper, even rockier trail:
Stoney Gap Trail. I gave up here and turned around:
Another beautiful fall vista:
This is what these trails do to your tires. At home I looked at my tire and saw the tube sticking through this tear from a rock. I must have ridden on this for miles and I was so lucky it didn't explode in the woods because I would have had a very long walk back. Here I have already let the air out before taking the photo:
Google Earth (.kml) files and GPS eXchange (.gpx) files.
TRAIL GPS COORDS (2)
1. Jake said...
Great pictures but the abundance of rocks would appear to take some of the fun out of it. How much travel do you need on your bike to make this ridable? 12 inches or more. I don't think it's ridable with my 3 inches of travel Trek. Jake
Oct 14, 2006 @ 8:53 AM
2. ERX said...
Is there any single track that's smooth in that park?
Oct 16, 2006 @ 7:45 AM
3. corey said...
Hey man thatlooks fun. I cant wiat to get back riding.
Oct 16, 2006 @ 1:24 PM
4. Sir Bikes said...
I think there are less rocks on the trails marked easy. These were the intermediate and advanced trails.
Oct 16, 2006 @ 6:55 PM
Comments are closed.