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  1. #1
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    Most Technical Trail Sections Near Philly

    I'm not an epic rider, or fast, I ride mainly to conquer gnarly, technical trails. I spend most of my time at Brandywine, or on the Indian side of Wiss. Recently I rode Bear Creek Resort and South Mountain in 90 degree heat and had a blast. But I met my match at Harmony Hill on a descent called (according to Strava) "Razor Sharp Teeth". Took a nasty spill. Looks like the back of a stegosaurus. 25% grade decline. I took a spot to slowly, squeezed my front brake too hard and did and endo into a nice pricker bush. Blew my back tire too. Anyone ever find this trail? Out of Curiosity, what are some of the most technical trails or trail sections in the area?

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    Tried Launch bike park yet?

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    You need to come out to Mt. Penn in Reading pa if your looking for knar...

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    Belmont has plenty of technical riding and Valley Forge/Betzwood is a nice mixture of technical and flow.

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    french creek/ mt penn for rocky tech.

    belmont for tight woodsy tech.

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    Launch Park is Spring Mt right? Looks awesome. Is Mt. Penn a downhill park like Launch or is there any XC type riding?

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    mt penn has lots of excellent XC riding (some of the best around if you like techy rock crawling). you'll need good GPS skills or a local to show you around though. unmarked and kind of confusing until you are familiar with the trails. it is not HUGE so if you have enough time i bet you can find your way around on your own, but finding someone who knows it to show you around will save you LOTS of time.

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    Maybe I'm getting a little too far from Phil, but Mt Gretna Trail 15 is the answer to this riddle. And Mt Penn can also hold its own, if you can find a guide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Launch Park is Spring Mt right?
    Right. There's also Blue Mtn bike park that's fairly close to Philadelphia, but it's not as gnar as Launch.

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    I've been to Gretna, but only for a quick spin. Didn't come across 15, but judging by the looks of it (from what I saw on youtube) seems like my kind of riding. I may try and hit it on labor day.

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    Mt Gretna, from Philly?? That is a hike!!--might as well go the 2 hours and go to Rocky Ridge Park in York Pa.. Actually that one is worth it!! Go there at least 2-3 times a season!!!--- Take the WISS, add 10 miles and add Triple the rocks and roots!!!

    --Probably say French Creek is half as close.. But with Rocky Ridge it is Impossible to get lost here (plus Fun like you would not believe..)

    For Technical riding (for beginner or Intermediate riders, it is the best in the State--if not the East Coast!!)--my opinion, for just flat-out-fun!! and you will not ever get lost here.. here is the map (plus between the technical trails here--Especially on Trail 5, between 5a, 5b, and guess 5c---there is the best twisty and flowing Singletrack that connects these trails...

    Yamba Forums • View topic - The "Official" Un-Official Map of Rocky Ridge County Park


    --THE WISS is the Best All around trail (I think with features and locations)----but for Technical 'fun' riding Rocky Ridge is the Most Fun!--Hands down!! Everyone I meet who has been here says it is.. and the YouTube videos do not show the rocks you see on the trails..

    I like these 2 spots the best here (see vids)--and trails are constantly being updated (I read on YAMBA..)--but these 2 vids look like 2 different trails completely!!

    3-5-13 Rocky Ridge Mountain Biking Trail 5 and 6 - YouTube

    Rocky Ridge - YouTube

    --I have never been to a place where you can have different 'flows' on the same trails...
    Last edited by 247; 08-17-2013 at 06:14 AM.

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    Looks fun. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Has anyone been to Bear Creek Resort? Rode it in July and loved it. Short. Grueling at times. It was also extremely hot and wet out so I emptied my camelback on mile 2. slick. took a couple nasty spills on wet rocks. Just wondering what you guys think of it.

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    As several others have mentioned Mt Penn/Antietam is a tech riders dream! I know for sure that there is some hidden gems in there that only myself and one other have cleaned.actually there is appropriately 40 mile of trail mostly single track and yes it is for those who like the thrill of exploration but with little chance of getting very lost.have recently completed two new connectors with approval of Berks County Parks with more to come.I have ridden all others areas mentioned on this thread and although all great places to ride Mt Penn by far has much more of the tech that you are seeking.

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    Is anyone ever going to map Mt. Penn?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    Mt Gretna, from Philly?? That is a hike!!...
    I would agree with much of what you've said (other than French Creek possibly being the best trail system on the east coast) which is why I prefaced my post accordingly, with "maybe a little too far from Phil..." However, I stand by Gretna #15 being one of the most, if not the most technical trail sections (and I don't ride there much so I really don't care.) "Near" is relative.

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    I read that as Rocky Ridge being the jewel of the East Coast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clicker1 View Post
    Is anyone ever going to map Mt. Penn?
    At some point it will be mapped,but trails will be mostly unmarked to keep it a place of discoveries for the more adventurous rider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clicker1 View Post
    I read that as Rocky Ridge being the jewel of the East Coast.
    You might be right. As I read it again it's completely unintelligible. I must admit, I've never ridden Rocky Ridge. Is it the best trail system on the east coast?
    Quote Originally Posted by techfersure View Post
    At some point it will be mapped,but trails will be mostly unmarked to keep it a place of discoveries for the more adventurous rider.
    ^^This is the guy you want to ride with. Cool trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Looks fun. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Has anyone been to Bear Creek Resort? Rode it in July and loved it. Short. Grueling at times. It was also extremely hot and wet out so I emptied my camelback on mile 2. slick. took a couple nasty spills on wet rocks. Just wondering what you guys think of it.
    I ride it regularly and love it.

    Merli Sarnoski has some awesome techy sections! I do enjoy trail 15 in Mt Gretna but the rest of that trail network really wasn't worth the drive for me from Allentown. I don't mean to discount it though, it is a fun little system
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    I had lined up a trip to Gettysburg to visit the battlefield and ride Michaux... Seeing that the shutdown may eliminate the battlefield half of the intended trip I may just bail on the whole thing. I would love to ride MtPenn, but it seems like having a local guide may be necessary to enjoy myself. Anyone in the area free on Friday, say noonish? Another option is to go up to Jim Thorpe, but I don't hear much about those trails anymore.

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    sdarnall237,might be available Friday for Mt Penn will let you know by Thursday!

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    Thanks doode! If this government can get their crud together and reopen their national parks, I would probably be heading down to Gettysburg. But Penn would be the best option if that falls through.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clicker1 View Post
    Is anyone ever going to map Mt. Penn?
    I'm currently working on it.... There are tons of trails so I have my work cut out for me!
    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Looks fun. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Has anyone been to Bear Creek Resort? Rode it in July and loved it. Short. Grueling at times. It was also extremely hot and wet out so I emptied my camelback on mile 2. slick. took a couple nasty spills on wet rocks. Just wondering what you guys think of it.
    I ride Bear Creek on occasion when I feel like punishing myself....
    How did you ride it? Clockwise or counter-clockwise?

    I like Bear Creek.... But after all the rain we had it was pretty rutted out. I'd like to see some maintenance done on the trails.
    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

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    Clicker 1 IMBA is working on a mapping program that would work well with areas like Mt Penn.our chapter BAMBA (Berks Area Mountain Biking Association) is in the forefront for the testing of said program.we will have updates as to when it is ready for testing and its progress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    I had lined up a trip to Gettysburg to visit the battlefield and ride Michaux... Seeing that the shutdown may eliminate the battlefield half of the intended trip I may just bail on the whole thing. I would love to ride MtPenn, but it seems like having a local guide may be necessary to enjoy myself. Anyone in the area free on Friday, say noonish? Another option is to go up to Jim Thorpe, but I don't hear much about those trails anymore.
    If you like chunky tech then check out the ATV trails at Michaux. Bonus is that its all mapped and the junctions are marked in the woods, and there are some crazy fast logging road downhills that'll have you grinning from ear to ear

    Most Technical Trail Sections Near Philly-2675_1128658936211_4672391_n.jpg

    http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/group...t/d_000819.pdf
    No moss...

  27. #27
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    that's a Sweet trail (I stared riding at THE WISS in Philly) and now ride the rockiest stuff in South East Pa.. I could not even think about riding something like Raystown (smooth riding..)--I HATE the smooth trails I have ridden... I think Mountain Biking MEANS rocks and roots...

    not the stuff out West that is all smooth (but that is me........)

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    Once again Mt Penn is as challenging as it gets for rock and bolder features!

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    " width="549">




    Older photos of Mt Penn so you get the idea of rocks and tech that is there.

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    Re: Most Technical Trail Sections Near Philly

    I'm looking for an East/West comparo. How does the East side(I've only ridden Merli) stack up vs the worst(best) parts of Moraine, Rothrock, and the like?

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    Quote Originally Posted by techfersure View Post
    Once again Mt Penn is as challenging as it gets for rock and bolder features!
    Hitting Michaux today. May try to hit Rocky Ridge on my way home tomorrow. My plan is to try to get to Mt Penn by the end of the season. I am not a winter rider.


    and I ride Bear Creek clockwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    that's a Sweet trail (I stared riding at THE WISS in Philly) and now ride the rockiest stuff in South East Pa.. I could not even think about riding something like Raystown (smooth riding..)--I HATE the smooth trails I have ridden... I think Mountain Biking MEANS rocks and roots...

    not the stuff out West that is all smooth (but that is me........)
    I felt the same way when I moved away from chunk territory. Most of the stuff near me is smooth and devoid of anything technical. Over time Ive learned to love it. You just gotta let the bike go & learn to flow with it and its a blast. Raystown is mtb heaven to me now.

    That being said I have a few places within an hour where I can go to get my rock quota when the urge strikes
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    Rocky Ridge is THE MOST FUN trail Ever!!!! Period..... Plus it is Impossible to get lost here (just one big cirlcle basically)----and the Unmarked trails are GREAT!!!!

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    Rode Michaux yesterday. Noodled around teaberry road on Gettysburgs bike's suggestion for a while. Did some out and backs on a few Snowmobile trails before finding some real gems. Chunky rocks and some great tech riding, but still very rideable. The lines were hard to find in all the leaves, but that's the fun. Squeezed out a dozen or so miles before it got dark. It was a beautiful park. Huge and humbling. Would love to make it out in the spring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    that's a Sweet trail (I stared riding at THE WISS in Philly) and now ride the rockiest stuff in South East Pa.. I could not even think about riding something like Raystown (smooth riding..)--I HATE the smooth trails I have ridden... I think Mountain Biking MEANS rocks and roots...

    not the stuff out West that is all smooth (but that is me........)
    I think french creek is a good one for for technical riding that is fairly close to Philly. As far as hating the smooth trails, to each his own. I love white clay which is smooth and fast but I recently have started to really enjoy riding the rocks at French creek too. There is fun to be had in either I think.

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    I love both smooth and rocky...but I definitely love rocky/technical more than smooth! To me Mt Penn is where it's at

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    Quote Originally Posted by bankofdad View Post
    " width="549">




    Older photos of Mt Penn so you get the idea of rocks and tech that is there.
    If those are the log overs I am thinking they are, they are on a long steep climb...
    (Are they still log overs if you have a rock ramp on both sides?)

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    Actually slightly up,if there is a log and you go over...log over! and yes there are rock ramps on other side but don't let that deceive you more difficult then appears,only a bike length apart!

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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! Harmony Hill custom map for your GPS

    Harmony hill is my main local trail and I really feel so fortunate that it's right by my house.

    For your enjoyment I'm sharing my GPS overlay which you can load into a custom maps folder of a GPS. It shows the township's actual trail map positioned in the approximate GPS correct location. The map is blank and has no tracks so you can make your own! It's my first attempt at this so it may not be perfect yet. This should help riders navigate the trails at harmony hill without having to stop and look at the signage and/or a paper map. I made the map on google earth and it should be viewable on that program too. Enjoy!

    Harmony_Hill_Trail_Map_Custom_Overlay.kmz

    edit: Anyone who wants more can message me if they want my overlay of French Creek's trail system. I used the PA DCNR trail map over google earth, viewable on handheld GPS or google earth. Looking to make a bunch more of these. The file is small but it's too large for this site.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Rode Michaux yesterday. Noodled around teaberry road on Gettysburgs bike's suggestion for a while. Did some out and backs on a few Snowmobile trails before finding some real gems. Chunky rocks and some great tech riding, but still very rideable. The lines were hard to find in all the leaves, but that's the fun. Squeezed out a dozen or so miles before it got dark. It was a beautiful park. Huge and humbling. Would love to make it out in the spring.
    Next time you go out, make sure to find some locals to ride with. There is SO MUCH better stuff there than the snowmobile trails. 2.5 hrs from Philly, but Michaux is my favorite riding in the state, if not anywhere.
    Brought to you by rocks.

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    Take advantage of the blown off trails from last weekends Enduro,they were really sweet!

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    Quote Originally Posted by PAmtbiker View Post
    Next time you go out, make sure to find some locals to ride with. There is SO MUCH better stuff there than the snowmobile trails. 2.5 hrs from Philly, but Michaux is my favorite riding in the state, if not anywhere.

    I didn't only do snowmobile trails, though I did spend some time initially wondering; "Is this it?" I eventually came to a sweet downhill singletrack off of teaberry road. I rode that trail in a loop, about 8 miles total, back to the parking lot. Then I meandered around for a while and found a nice little rocky single track that rode parallel to teaberry then east for another few miles. whetted my appetite for some more, possibly this spring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by techfersure View Post
    sdarnall237,might be available Friday for Mt Penn will let you know by Thursday!
    May give saturday morning a shot if your interested in showing me around.

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    Bearcreek is short, punishing and fun. I can't imagine riding it counterclockwise, it would be rough, and the down side wouldn't be all that techy/ fun. Going clockwise gives you the techy and fast downhill if you can handle it. And tons of guys I ride with who are great riders have gotten overconfident and crashed there. Some places there is zero room for error. We rode there about 3 weeks ago in 4 inches of snow and made it just about the the top going CW. Absolutely brutal. Turned around and bombed back down.

    Don't overlook Green Pane Park either, if you do a full loop around the resivoir, go up and play in the cedars, and up to the dogwood trail, we've gotten 15 mile rides in. The cedars are fast packed trails that flow well, but I'd give them techy based on how tight they get. The red trail is a mix of tight, rocks, and roots. The blue trail is rocky, rooty, with one nasty climb, and about 3 ravine crossings that are VERY challenging after reroutes post Sandy.

    Depending on where you are, but you've driven to south mountain Emmaus, Trexler isn't much further and is a riot. Isn't not your typical east coast gnar, it is very fast and flowy, but the trails are fast enough to be challenging, certain trails are very narrow, and they have been adding more features like skinnies and jumps.

    I have not hit Mount Penn yet, hoping to try to find a local that doesn't mind showing a few of us around come spring.
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    Has anyone ever ridden The Sourlands in Jersey? That looks bonkers. I am thinking of hitting that soon, but it almost looks too rocky... like unrelenting. I love rocks, but I need to cleanse the palette every so often with some flowy singletrack before jumping back into it.

    Have not made it to Mt Penn yet. Possibly next Tuedsay.

    I have been spending more time at French Creek as I love everything about that place.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Has anyone ever ridden The Sourlands in Jersey?
    Sourlands is most EXCELLENT fun, not relentlessly bonkers, but fun.

    I usually ride it as an out and back, plus. I'll try to remember to get one of my gps recordings together to share, but for reference from this official map of the preserve the ride kind-of goes ...

    - TH to intersections 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 7, 6
    - this leaves you mid-way up the climb, at an intersection. going left goes back down and is closed trail, right goes towards point 5, go straight across. you're now off the official map, refer to the Strava Heat Map (SHM) of Sourlands as a reference.
    - basically on the SHM you want to stay left and follow the obviously most-used path, this keeps you high on the hill, crossing the power line, and eventually you rejoin the official map near point 4
    - keeping left at point 4 will bring you across to the large boulder field
    - I usually take a break hear and then back-track, with the exception that instead of going 6-7-9 I go 6-7-8-9

    You COULD traverse the bounder field, it's not long, and then head directly down to point 1 and then the TH. I'd expect the segment from the boulders to 1 to be fairly rocky, but rideable.

    Last time I was there I extended the ride a bit at the end by changing the ending to 10-3-2-1-TH instead of 10-11-12-13-TH, this added a little bit of techy climbing and some fun techie downhill.

    Up on top of the hill there's a ton of alternate lines. The main path is pretty obvious but the really fun stuff is the alternate lines and natural features that are in abundance, few-but-some with man-made enhancement.

    I've been caught out here in a rain shower and the dirt can get a bit slick, but the rock stays full-grip. The wooden bridges though, well, they get dangerously slick. Be warned.

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    Finally made it out to Mt. Penn. Chunky for sure, but very rideable and had a great flow. I met up with a local and made sure he showed me the rockiest features. Not sure if he did or not, but I had an absolute blast and was glad I bumped into him.

    Still on the hunt for the gnarliest trails in the area and think that Sourlands and Trail 15 in Gretna look to be the answer.

    Of what I have ridden, I would consider Bear Creek to be the most challenging. The jagged rocks and tight lines midway down the back side of the mountain going clockwise are brutal. There are also a few hidden gems in my local trails of Brandywine. Here are a couple screengrabs of one of my favorite sections on that trail.

    Most Technical Trail Sections Near Philly-10499442_10152521853622158_2344989066940841275_o.jpg

    Most Technical Trail Sections Near Philly-10313915_10152521849662158_1570735925378558784_o.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Most Technical Trail Sections Near Philly-10379947_10152521849877158_4304083896136539706_o.jpg  


  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Finally made it out to Mt. Penn. Chunky for sure, but very rideable and had a great flow. I met up with a local and made sure he showed me the rockiest features. Not sure if he did or not, but I had an absolute blast and was glad I bumped into him.

    Still on the hunt for the gnarliest trails in the area and think that Sourlands and Trail 15 in Gretna look to be the answer.

    Of what I have ridden, I would consider Bear Creek to be the most challenging. The jagged rocks and tight lines midway down the back side of the mountain going clockwise are brutal. There are also a few hidden gems in my local trails of Brandywine. Here are a couple screengrabs of one of my favorite sections on that trail.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Are all three of those on the connector trial to the JCC?

    I ride Brandywine every Monday.

    I have ridden everything you have mentioned, except Sourlands, which I have been itching to hit for quite awhile.
    Trail 15 is super technical in spots...good both ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reformed roadie View Post
    Are all three of those on the connector trial to the JCC?

    I ride Brandywine every Monday.

    I have ridden everything you have mentioned, except Sourlands, which I have been itching to hit for quite awhile.
    Trail 15 is super technical in spots...good both ways.
    Those three images are on the trail that runs from the greenway up parallel to Mt. Lebanon Rd toward the JCC. I then make a left down, according to Strava, "Veil of Clouds". Some of my favorite riding in the area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdarnall237 View Post
    Those three images are on the trail that runs from the greenway up parallel to Mt. Lebanon Rd toward the JCC. I then make a left down, according to Strava, "Veil of Clouds". Some of my favorite riding in the area.
    What about the trail that that would be a right turn from your description coming from the greenway up to the JCC? It is a right just before the left you describe. It runs parallel to the neighborhood next to the JCC. There is a creek crossing at the end that is very challenging. That one is my favorite in Brandywine and of all the local trail systems for that matter.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by eBayRider View Post
    What about the trail that that would be a right turn from your description coming from the greenway up to the JCC? It is a right just before the left you describe. It runs parallel to the neighborhood next to the JCC. There is a creek crossing at the end that is very challenging. That one is my favorite in Brandywine and of all the local trail systems for that matter.
    I don't think there is a right, that would take you right onto the street. You can keep going straight and that would run parallel to the road and lead to a stream crossing. I haven't taken that trail for a while, usually very muddy. That upper ridge though is some of my favorite riding in the area.

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    Hope I don't piss anybody off by talking about it, but I'm nominating the loop off of sawmill rd in downingtown. Its not long, but its probably the most interesting single hillside in the area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli View Post
    Hope I don't piss anybody off by talking about it, but I'm nominating the loop off of sawmill rd in downingtown. Its not long, but its probably the most interesting single hillside in the area.
    Especially when wet...have to include the loop across the road too, head up towards the school and make a left (right coming down).

    nice challenge to ride clean (no dabs) when it gets slick. In the wet the roots are like snot under water...

  55. #55
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    I know this is an older thread, but it is still relevant and a good resource. I am surprised Salisbury in Allentown/LeHigh Valley has not been suggested. Cut from the same cloth as Bear Creek. Bring tubes and a chainring guard.
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  56. #56
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    Rode Salisbury in 2009. Need to get back there. Remember the rocks for sure. Bike magazine had a feature on Salisbury and South Mountain a few years back and gushed over the gnarly terrain.

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    Agreed about Salisbury but Mt Penn/Antietam even more so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by techfersure View Post
    Agreed about Salisbury but Mt Penn/Antietam even more so.
    Well she-it. That's a crap ton of rocks then.
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    As much rock as you want to ride !

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    I had a local show me around MtPenn. Great trail, but I don't think we ever hit the really technical stuff. Rode about 15 miles of trails starting at Antietam then working our way up. Never did the DH stuff.

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    In my ever expanding search to find the the most technical gnar in the philly area I rode Sourlands Mt. Preserve today. I'm bumping that up to #1. So much fun. Really tests your sight lines. Loved it.

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    Red and white loop at french creek has some good rocky sections

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    Quote Originally Posted by ssc280 View Post
    Red and white loop at french creek has some good rocky sections
    Always been one of my favorite trails.

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    I was at Blue Mountain last weekend for a foot race, so I didn't ride it, but we went up and down a trail called Empire that is crazy technical -- non-stop rocks, steep, rooty, narrow, drops. I can't imagine you'd find anything more technical than that, if you're willing to pay for DH & lifts.

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    You might be thinking of another trail, probably jambalaya? They ran the spartan race up that in the past. Empire is the new freeride trail that they just built last summer, not really very rooty or rocky at all; it's pretty smooth, compared to the rest of the place.

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    You'd know better than me; I saw signs for Empire so maybe it's parallel. Whatever it's called it's hard.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Z. Ryder View Post
    You'd know better than me; I saw signs for Empire so maybe it's parallel. Whatever it's called it's hard.
    Empire starts with the wide dirt roll-in to the right-curved wooden deck, it's not natural/rocky.

    GETTING TO Empire takes you over natural trail though ... Formula or Jambalaya for the top half ... Moto or OCS lower down, but don't go too far as you must cut up/over to the right to get into the fairway and connect to the entrance to Empire.

    At least until the wonderful trail crew makes new higher level trail to get us into Empire without leaving singletrack.

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    Berks County:
    Mount Penn is literally my back yard and I've been riding there off and on for the last 5 years. There are a lot of trails that I have yet to witness, but can say that it does have decent technical riding.

    French Creek is rocky and there is a lot of fun to be had there.

    Lancaster County:
    Gretna used to have bike access on Trail 12 and 13 which were IMO the gnarliest downhill (preferred direction) technical trails there. They closed them off to bikes and opened Trail 15 in lieu of. Either direction Trail 15 is ridden is techy, but with limitations at Gretna, there isn't much I would call super technical.

    Camp Mack has the Horseshoe Trail running through it and offers some nice baby head tech riding as well as larger boulder navigating.

    Beyond:
    Michaux is probably the most technical riding I've ever encountered. Gravestone ridge (trail name?)

    My worthless two cents...

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