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  1. #1
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    Suggestions for Trails without Freeze-Thaw SEPA

    I know I know, most trails in PA will suffer from freeze-thaw mud, but I was wondering if any trails in south east Pennsylvania manage to have less freeze-thaw mud than most?
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  2. #2
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    French Creek maybe... There are a lot of rocks there and the place typically drains well. Just ride earlier in the morning or later at night...
    Brought to you by rocks.

  3. #3
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    Seek out rockier rides in general, or on mountains with healthy bedrock. Salisbury trails near Bethlehem drain generally well save for some chronically damp spots.

  4. #4
    West Chester, PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAmtbiker View Post
    French Creek maybe... There are a lot of rocks there and the place typically drains well. Just ride earlier in the morning or later at night...
    Theres lots of low spots at FC that get really messy. And since the place is basically 2 loops its really hard to avoid them. Some of the trail sections actually follow the water runoff patterns instead of the contours, so the water just sits on the trail.

  5. #5
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    totally agree with 92gli FC is not a place to go when it is muddy.

    the foolproof spot i have found is batsto in the pine barrens; 1 hour from philly, really fun 20 mile loop + 10 or so more miles of connectors? haven't been there too many times due to time constraints but what i do know is that it drains well and when other places are too wet it is probably at its best.

    mt penn in reading also has lots of trails that drain amazingly but without knowing it well you can get into some muddy trails in sections too. i bet there are good ways to ride there without damaging anything.

    my strategy, since i can't get away for a whole day to ride these days, if there isn't a freeze over night to allow me to sneak in an early ride before the trails thaw i just hop on the road.

    i suggest everyone invest in a cheap singlespeed/fixed roadbike and go explore when the trails turn to crap! road riding will make you a better mountainbiker and will make riding the trails seem even sweeter when they are finally in good shape to ride again.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    i suggest everyone invest in a cheap singlespeed/fixed roadbike and go explore when the trails turn to crap! road riding will make you a better mountainbiker and will make riding the trails seem even sweeter when they are finally in good shape to ride again.
    ^^ This. If you can do a CX bike setup like this, you can also explore many miles of hardened rail-trail type surfaces. Figuring out how to connect gravel roads/forest roads/bike paths/and rail-trails in the area can be a really fun adventure in its own way

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    totally agree with 92gli FC is not a place to go when it is muddy.

    the foolproof spot i have found is batsto in the pine barrens; 1 hour from philly, really fun 20 mile loop + 10 or so more miles of connectors? haven't been there too many times due to time constraints but what i do know is that it drains well and when other places are too wet it is probably at its best.

    mt penn in reading also has lots of trails that drain amazingly but without knowing it well you can get into some muddy trails in sections too. i bet there are good ways to ride there without damaging anything.

    my strategy, since i can't get away for a whole day to ride these days, if there isn't a freeze over night to allow me to sneak in an early ride before the trails thaw i just hop on the road.

    i suggest everyone invest in a cheap singlespeed/fixed roadbike and go explore when the trails turn to crap! road riding will make you a better mountainbiker and will make riding the trails seem even sweeter when they are finally in good shape to ride again.
    Definitely check out south Jersey. Closer to Philly in NJ, the trails at Ceres & Kresson drain reasonably well, too.

    Investing in a roadbike isn't even necessary- I have a 2nd set of wheels for my 29er with CX tires that converts it inot a comfortable & capable roadie. It's not as fast or light as a dedicated road bike, but for a couple hundred bucks, it's quite a bit cheaper and allows me the versatility without taking up extra space.

  8. #8
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    Mt Penn and Neversink Mt in Reading are mostly immune to freeze/thaw mud.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gigantic View Post

    investing in a roadbike isn't even necessary- i have a 2nd set of wheels for my 29er with cx tires that converts it inot a comfortable & capable roadie. It's not as fast or light as a dedicated road bike, but for a couple hundred bucks, it's quite a bit cheaper and allows me the versatility without taking up extra space.
    n+1

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    but for a couple hundred bucks, it's quite a bit cheaper
    you sure???

    City Grounds | Schwinn Cutter Complete Bike 2011

    ok, so maybe there is a reason that bike is cheap; it is not so easy on the eyes...

    but seriously you can never have too many bikes and a street specific bike is just funner to ride on the street IMHO.

    i'm hoping for an early snow ride tomorrow (if it both snows and freezes tonight that is) but if you want to be nice to the trails you better get out there early. i bet by 10 it will all start going to sh!t.

    sunday morning should be good too but cold and windy.

    probably no need to travel this weekend so long as your willing to get up early and get out while it is still cold.

  11. #11
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    I've got a road bike. I've got a city bike. I've got slick tires on one of my MTB's.

    I wasn't asking "how do I ride a bicycle in the winter" I was asking where I can dirt trails during the winter.

    Now stop derailing my thread and lets talk about places don't turn completely to mud during freeze-thaw of early spring.
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  12. #12
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    Neversink Mtn in Reading is mint,fast,tacky little or no mud.

  13. #13
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    Rode the Wiss today on my fatbike. there were a few sloppy spots, but by and large, it wasn't bad, mostly dry and firm.

  14. #14
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    gigantic

    not sure when or where you were riding but the wiss was a complete sh!tshow this weekend with way too many people out riding after the sun hit the dirt in the typical sections and thawed it out.

    even when it is below freezing the sun will thaw the darker dirt so no matter how cold it is on a sunny day you only have till about 10-11 AM to get your ride in before thawing occurs.

    saying i rode there and it was great is not really telling the whole story. when? where? also you were on a fatbike... i am not sure your even noticing the ruts skinnier tires would be making and sink into.

    so to bring it back on topic; the wiss is not a place to ride during freeze/thaw unless you respect the temps and the suns effect on the trails.

    and PHeller if we got more people on the road this time of year and to just respect the trails better we wouldn't get so f#cked with the freeze thaw at the wiss. the problem is made worse and takes longer to heal up when people ride when they shouldn't, widen trails, and make nice deep ruts. never hurts to tell people there are other bikes to ride this time of year, sorry if you already know that.

  15. #15
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    Max-a-mill,

    I'm glad you responded because I asked this question for that exact reason. I want to get a better idea of where to ride, even when the winter conditions are good. I do put miles on the road bike, don't get me wrong, but when I need dirt, I want somewhere to go.
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  16. #16
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    I rode friday am, from the Pavilion down stream towards manayunk at the end of the trail. it was still cold out and most of the area that I rode was still in shade. By the golf course, it was pretty greasy, but that was a small section. Went back up the chestnut hill side & it was better. I could see that it might have gotten worse later in the day. I cancelled a ride saturday due to the weather and rode at smedly/Pine Ridge, where the trail was in better shape. I've been getting in most of my rides in the early am to avoid the freeze thaw action, but with my fatbike, I can be a little more casual than the average rider, as it generally doesn't make ruts, except in the sloppiest of slop. ymmv

  17. #17
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    Suggestions for Trails without Freeze-Thaw SEPA

    We rode at Smedley park in Springfield delco on Friday afternoon, there were a few muddy spots down closer to the creek but everything else was in surprisingly great shape. On a side note, all the wooden features and the jump line that ran up close to Baltimore pk has been bulldozed, quite a shame as whoever built it did nice work.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gp.plus View Post
    We rode at Smedley park in Springfield delco on Friday afternoon, there were a few muddy spots down closer to the creek but everything else was in surprisingly great shape. On a side note, all the wooden features and the jump line that ran up close to Baltimore pk has been bulldozed, quite a shame as whoever built it did nice work.
    Yeah, that was a tragedy. I ran into a guy walking his dogs, who was there when it happened. He wasn't a rider, but he was clearly irritated that Del Co had come in and done that without notice, with out consulting the riding community. It looks like the only reason that they didn't get the rest of the pump track was because they couldn't get their bobcat back without taking out half the trees along the trail. It's ironic, I've taken some IMBA trail-building seminars that heavily stressed creating sustainable trails and not disturbing the delicate forest soils any more than necessary. It demoing the dirtjump area and the wooden structures, Del Co parks did more damage to that patch of forest than all of the trails in the smedley/swarthmore area combined; to what end, it's not clear.

  19. #19
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    Suggestions for Trails without Freeze-Thaw SEPA

    Yea I was thinking the same, they tore it up back there! We have been tossing around the idea of building some more stuff up at don guanella, the township seems to not be to concerned about building back there.

  20. #20
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    that might be cool. I still have to get out and ride there.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    ... Del Co parks did more damage to that patch of forest than all of the trails in the smedley/swarthmore area combined; to what end, it's not clear.
    Liability, or at least perceived threat of it. I'm not entirely sure whats going on in PA, but I think many of our local governments are being mislead by either their insurance companies or their solicitors.
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  22. #22
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    Suggestions for Trails without Freeze-Thaw SEPA

    Yea I would have to think that was done purely to protect against any sort of legal action when someone gets hurt back there.. That teeter was highly visible from Baltimore pk though, not helping matters. Sucks either way. There was some real quality craftsmanship there.. If the builders come across this and would like to build over at don guanella, I will offer my time and tools and would love to learn a few things too.

  23. #23
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    Same thing happened across the river at Ceres & the riders & trailbuilders formed a partnership with the local authorities:
    Gloucester County cyclists organize to enhance, protect bike paths | NJ.com

  24. #24
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    Suggestions for Trails without Freeze-Thaw SEPA

    That's a great story, I have to wonder if delco would be so cooperative. Maybe we need a local shop owner to step up and get the ball rolling, seems most of the local shops are more roadie oriented though. Maybe one of the Havnoonians would have some pull, I would be happy to try and talk to Frank if we could get enough people on the same page willing to help build and maintain.

  25. #25
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    It's a shame that PMBA is such a fustercluck. All that potential, wasted.

    I'd love to do the same thing at Valley forge, where there's nearly 20 miles of trails that technically, bikes aren't allowed to ride, but are mostly ridden and maintained by mtb riders. It would be nice to be able to make the trails legit, have the resources to maintain them properly and even build new ones there. Currently, there are signs forbidding bikes, but generally, park rangers simply look the other way; that may not always be the case. Same goes for Smedley, Don Guanella and a bunch of other places, I imagine. Without organized advocacy, we remain at the whims of parks & rec officials.

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