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  1. #1
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    Jim Thorpe: where's the hard stuff?

    Hey there PA riders! I'm a central New Yorker (upstate, near Syracuse, not metro NYC). I just got back from a weekend visit to Jim Thorpe. I've been there several times over the years for mtn biking, and paddling on the "Mighty Lehigh." It had been about 8 years since my last mtn biking visit, and it seems that either my tastes have evolved, or my memory has grown dull, or something....

    Becuase I was honestly a little disappointed. I did 2 "manly" rides solo - all of American Standard up on Broad Mtn, and a ride up to Flagstaff Mtn, along Mauch Chunk Ridge, some exploring, back down around the park, and back into town.

    I also did 2 "rides with the wife" - the Switchback Trail (shuttled), and cruised Glen Onoko Falls park.

    It was beautiful, the town was nice, the Josh Turner concert at Penn's Peak was awesome, so the weekend was a success.

    But I basically just felt like the trails were super rocky, and not in a good way. Just constant pounding, not much flow, and even though they were "abusive" on my body and bike, they never really got truly difficult and technically challenging. The terrain there is so awesome, I have to imagine there is all sorts of "underground trail network" type stuff with hard rocky "stunts," freeride challenges, etc. I also wonder if there are some spots where the singletrack is a little less rocky, more fast/flowy type stuff.

    I guess my dream riding would be fast/flowy singletrack riding with lots of very difficult obstactles mixed in - either natural or man-made. For example, way out on the American Standard loop, there is a boulder with a little rock ramp-up, to a sloping roll down, to a small drop off. It was just sitting there alongside the trail. So I rode it. It was the most fun "tech challenge" I found while there! I would love more of that, and stuff way burlier than that!

    So I'm just curious - is there a whole bunch of hardcore riding that is not covered in the guidebook and you all keep secret from the tourists? How do I find that stuff if/when I come back for another visit? Where is it? I more or less know the lay of the land down there now.

  2. #2
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    JT is a tough one. Most of the old 'good stuff' was on gamelands and is now illegal to ride so yes, local knowledge is key. Check here for current info and maps- http://jttrails.wordpress.com/

  3. #3
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    I heard mixed reports from locals when I asked about the game lands. It sounds like there is some ambiguity as to whether or not riding is allowed up there. I was encouraged "off the record" to ride American Standard if I wanted good hard stuff, but I felt a little guilty. Then I talked to another guy after and he said it is still 100% legal. Confusing. Much like our trail access issues here in NY!

  4. #4
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    I think the common suggestion is to buy yourself a fishing license and pack a small spool of fishing line and a hook in your camelbak. That way you are "just riding out to your fishing spot." Not illegal, but not really ethical, either.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bridog
    I heard mixed reports from locals when I asked about the game lands. It sounds like there is some ambiguity as to whether or not riding is allowed up there. I was encouraged "off the record" to ride American Standard if I wanted good hard stuff, but I felt a little guilty. Then I talked to another guy after and he said it is still 100% legal. Confusing. Much like our trail access issues here in NY!
    SGL in Jim Thorpe is still illegal except for the Broad Mountain Loop which is fire roads. All singletrack is still considered off-limits but enforcement is sketchy at best. The '100% legal' guy was either misinformed or was just wrong- if you check the PA Game Commission website it lays out the rules for each area as well as what are considered designated routes. What is hazy is how hunting and scouting activities are defined so there may be some wiggle room there since there are legit hunters who use quads to scout out their spots all the time. Shoot a mail to Lath at JTTrails- he is going to be one of your best informed resources on this topic because he is a local who is working to change things in JT to be as mountain biker friendly as it once was.

  6. #6
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    ^ Lol...no, but it is an end run around the rule.

    Anyways, me being the rail trail fanatic here, the Switchback, although boring for most of you I'm sure unless you like the history lesson that comes with it, it does have that one screaming downhill known as the "Wagon Road" Now, I do the trail in reverse (I'm no dummy, ride the downgrade and only suffer a bit doing the Wagon Road uphill), but I have seen guys come down that, make that 90 degree left hand turn...they better make it or it's really really gonna hurt....and I just watch in amazement as they handle those rocks at that point. So, if you're looking for scenic lazy ride but want that few minutes of sheer terror, try the Swirchback.


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