Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    NotoriousMHz
    Reputation: MhzMonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    351

    Fountainhead State Park - Beginner/Novice Trails?

    My Wife and I are thinking of planning a weekend in May to travel with the bikes to Fountainhead State Park. I've never been there and have been researching this to see if it's going to be a place where she will have a lot of fun. She's been riding rail trails for few years now, but have only been on mountain bike trails a couple of times where I've shown her some basic skills (deal with small roots, small log crossing, etc.) but she just hasn't rode enough trails to build experience (confidence) yet. Our local trails (Southwest PA, WV area) have a lot of big roots, rocky, technical climbs.

    So we are looking for a place that has some nice and smooth, fast, roller-coaster type trails that might have some tame features she can attempt, or ride around them if she wants. From the reviews and YouTube videos it seems like Fountainhead has what she's looking for but wanted to make sure it's not going to be to much for her and we can both enjoy them. If you can give me the names of the loops in the videos, or which you recommend that fits the criteria above, that would be great. Even if what we are looking is not at Fountainhead, let me hear it. Thanks a lot for your help.

    Here are some of the video's that I was referring to:
    Fountainhead Part 1
    Fountainhead Regional Park 4/21/2012
    GIVE ME FOUNTAINHEAD
    Adam Christopher
    ♦ 2015 Santa Cruz Nomad C
    ♦ 2012 Specialized Epic Expert
    ♦ 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert

  2. #2
    Bicycle Radical
    Reputation: scorchedearth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    276
    I would not consider Fountainhead to be a trail system for a beginning mountain biker. There are sections which are steep enough that it may intimidate someone relatively new. I don't know how confident your wife is on the bike but I know that mine is also a beginner and I would not take her to Fountainhead at this point.

    You know your wife's abilities and fitness level best however so it is your call.

    If you decide to hit the park, the first two loops are the easiest. They consist of fairly smooth trail with big banked turns, few rooty sections, occasional drop offs, steep ups and downs, and a roller coaster type ride. Gauge your wife's reaction after the completion of the first loop - the green loop. This will be at a place where there are a few wooden bridges and signage around. If she is ready for more, you can go to the second loop - the blue trail and if she is not, you can return to the parking lot.

    The black trail is the most advanced trail and reasonably technical.

    Here is a map:

    http://www.fountainheadproject.org/i...tion%20001.pdf

    Nearby, there is Laurel Hill Park which IMO, is a far more beginner friendly trail. It is where I introduced my wife to mountain biking and she enjoys herself there. If things don't work out at Fountainhead, Laurel Hill is 10 minutes away.

    Laurel Hill Park

    Another beginner friendly trail system in the immediate area is Meadowood. It is short, but fun, and good for a few repeats. You could do both Meadowood and Laurel Hill in the same day.

    Meadowood Mountain Bike Trail in Lorton, Virginia || SINGLETRACKS.COM

    Enjoy!
    Free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.- Ivan Illich

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Ltdan12a's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    137
    Gotta say I agree with everything scorchedearth said!!!

  4. #4
    NotoriousMHz
    Reputation: MhzMonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    351
    Quote Originally Posted by scorchedearth View Post
    I would not consider Fountainhead to be a trail system for a beginning mountain biker. ....
    Thank you for the info and links, I will check them out as soon as I get home. I hope the maps will give me an idea of how many miles each loop is.
    Adam Christopher
    ♦ 2015 Santa Cruz Nomad C
    ♦ 2012 Specialized Epic Expert
    ♦ 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    132
    I disagree with the other two posters.

    So we are looking for a place that has some nice and smooth, fast, roller-coaster type trails that might have some tame features she can attempt, or ride around them if she wants.
    Aside from the black loop, this is exactly what Fountainhead is. Even the black loop has nothing intense in terms of technical difficulty. If she's been riding for a few years, FH would be a good place to go to have fun and still get some kind of challenge in.

  6. #6
    psycho cyclo addict
    Reputation: edubfromktown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    1,957
    +1 for what scorchedearth said. Given your wife hasn't had much MTB experience, Laurel Hill, Meadwoood (reminiscent of mini-Fountainhead in my GF's opinion when we rode there a couple weekends ago) and Wakefield/Accotink would be more appropriate. I've ridden Fountainhead since the old trails were there... no problem for me but my girlfriend who had a couple of years MTB riding experience under her belt (including trail rides in CO and UT) before going there felt it was a bit over her head.

    Muddy Branch in Maryland close to I-270 @ Route 28 would also be good option to consider....

    Muddy Branch Greenway Trail Mountain Bike Trail in Darnestown, Maryland || SINGLETRACKS.COM

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: silent713's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    79
    A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    58
    FWIW. Fountainhead can be challenging. However I think for 90% of the trail system the challenge comes from trying to navigate it at speed. I don't think there is much at fountainhead anyone cant handle if they choose to just plod along and take there time. The first 2 loops are "Groomed" and plenty wide, and flow very well. The black trail is a more "Natural" and narrower, but again if your not trying to take it at speed it easily doable.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: bigfruits's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    778
    fountainhead would be perfect. stay on the first two loops. nothing too technical. a few 1.5ft drops but she can roll off instead of fly if she wants...

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: progfan1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    243
    It's true that Fountainhead would probably be rideable for your wife at a slower speed (with the exception of Shock-A-Billy, which she should probably walk), but keep in mind that, since they made the front two loops easier, advanced riders are riding them MUCH faster, so she might find some of these folks bombing past her a little disconcerting. I think Wakefield would be a good place to start. There are no grueling climbs or steep downhills, but there are short rock gardens, a good hill with berms, and log crossings that can be ridden around, if preferred. I found it a great place to practice when I was first learning to mtb. Laurel Hills has more trails and hills than Wakefield, but is not too technical at all. I think either of these places would probably be better and more enjoyable for a beginning rider to practice some skills and gain confidence.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jtorlando25's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    201
    IMHO Fountainhead is not a destination trail (neither are any of our other trails here in the northern VA area). It's just not that special. If you are going to be in town because of some other reason, then you should most definitely ride Fountainhead but I just can't see traveling from PA to ride it.

    Check out Freedom Park in Williamsburg. If you want to travel a little further, for a trail that's way more fun, I highly recommend it. Not to mention there is a lot of site seeing to be had in Williamsburg. I also recommend checking out York River State Park which is only a couple miles from Freedom Park. They have a few miles of decent flowy trails and it's just a really nice park on the river with some cool sites to see.

    Freedom Park (aka:district Park) Mountain Bike Trail in Yorktown, Virginia || SINGLETRACKS.COM

    York River State Park Mountain Bike Trail in Williamsburg, Virginia || SINGLETRACKS.COM

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: progfan1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    243
    I also agree that Fountainhead is not worth traveling from PA to ride. You have comparable and better trails up there.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Joules's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2,356
    I agree with all of this. I'm surprised that no one mentioned that even a novice could ride every inch of trail at fountainhead in about 2 hours. The only trail this area I'd consider traveling to ride is Patapsco.

    Freedom and New quarter parks in williamsburg are only 2-3 hours farther away, and I think a beginner might enjoy them more, also the James river system in Richmond. You could spend most of a day at each of those places, and have fun regardless of skill level.





    Quote Originally Posted by jtorlando25 View Post
    IMHO Fountainhead is not a destination trail (neither are any of our other trails here in the northern VA area). It's just not that special. If you are going to be in town because of some other reason, then you should most definitely ride Fountainhead but I just can't see traveling from PA to ride it.

    Check out Freedom Park in Williamsburg. If you want to travel a little further, for a trail that's way more fun, I highly recommend it. Not to mention there is a lot of site seeing to be had in Williamsburg. I also recommend checking out York River State Park which is only a couple miles from Freedom Park. They have a few miles of decent flowy trails and it's just a really nice park on the river with some cool sites to see.

    Freedom Park (aka:district Park) Mountain Bike Trail in Yorktown, Virginia || SINGLETRACKS.COM

    York River State Park Mountain Bike Trail in Williamsburg, Virginia || SINGLETRACKS.COM

  14. #14
    Smarter Than He Looks
    Reputation: Sinker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    535
    Quote Originally Posted by MhzMonster View Post
    My Wife and I are thinking of planning a weekend in May to travel with the bikes to Fountainhead State Park. I've never been there and have been researching this to see if it's going to be a place where she will have a lot of fun. She's been riding rail trails for few years now, but have only been on mountain bike trails a couple of times where I've shown her some basic skills (deal with small roots, small log crossing, etc.) but she just hasn't rode enough trails to build experience (confidence) yet. Our local trails (Southwest PA, WV area) have a lot of big roots, rocky, technical climbs.

    So we are looking for a place that has some nice and smooth, fast, roller-coaster type trails that might have some tame features she can attempt, or ride around them if she wants. From the reviews and YouTube videos it seems like Fountainhead has what she's looking for but wanted to make sure it's not going to be to much for her and we can both enjoy them. If you can give me the names of the loops in the videos, or which you recommend that fits the criteria above, that would be great. Even if what we are looking is not at Fountainhead, let me hear it. Thanks a lot for your help.

    Here are some of the video's that I was referring to:
    Fountainhead Part 1
    Fountainhead Regional Park 4/21/2012
    GIVE ME FOUNTAINHEAD
    If you're willing to travel a little bit further, the trails around Newark, DE might be what you're looking for. White Clay and connected Middle Run parks offer 30ish miles of smooth, fast and flowy singletrack. Nearby Fair Hill in MD is a little more raw, but still has lots of beginner-friendly trails.
    Closer to home (for you), I'm sure you're familiar with the Allegrippis trails at Raystown Lake. There is some climbing, but again, mostly smooth fast trails.

  15. #15
    two wheel whore
    Reputation: Shmoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    473
    I think they renamed Laurel Hill to Giles Run Meadow or something.

    I remember doing Fountainhead as a beginner - I wouldn't suggest it. Laurel Hill is much easier, but I've also had a beginner take a spill out there on a climb as well.

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: need4gforce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    488
    Fountainhead's first two loops are much easier now that they have redone them. With geared bikes you will be fine. Start and follow the trails until you get to the picnic tables and then stay right, do not cross the creek. It will take you 2 hours to do those two loops at beginner pace is my guess.

    Happy trails!
    I race for Crosshairs Cycling
    www.crosshairscycling.com

    My stupid blog
    www.capitalbiker.tumblr.com

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    26
    I think you would be fine at Fountainhead, I heard all the same stuff about not taking a beginner rider there. I took my girlfriend there who had about 3-4 rides on a mountain bike in her life and she loved it, she did the entire course without any problems. I did take her down the new shock-a-billy and she had a blast, we went to the old shock-a-billy the next time and I recommended she walk that but in her defense, she wanted to ride it. It is one of our favorite places to ride.
    2013 Trek Superfly 100 AL Pro(sold)
    2013 Specialized Epic Marathon

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •