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  1. #1
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    Shelving Rock Falls Big Loop info?

    Has anyone ridden the Shelving Rock Falls big loop trail in the Lake George Wild Forest? I'm thinking about heading up there on Monday and could use some info on the trail conditions.
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    I am not sure of current trail....

    [QUOTE=Adirondack Blues]Has anyone ridden the Shelving Rock Falls big loop trail in the Lake George Wild Forest? I'm thinking about heading up there on Monday and could use some info on the trail conditions.[/QU



    conditions, but I found this SR info and thought I'd share it with anybody looking for a great ride.

    MOUNTAIN BIKING
    Extreme Mountain Biking
    The East Side of Lake George
    by Gary Thomann

    The July ride is a real adventure, one of those experiences you will fondly remember on that rainy or snowy early December day while sitting in your office. I say this because I have found that terror etches happenings deep into your memory. Later, when the actual memory of the terror is gone, the experience remains for you to happily review. This ride has it all: vistas, a scenic pedal along the shore of Lake George, doubletrack, singletrack, big climbs, and a rocky expert-rated 1,500-foot vertical drop, which is the terror part required for memory imprinting. This is not a ride for beginners or one for your still-learning-to-ride boyfriend or girlfriend. You should have solid intermediate skills, and expect to walk some sections. Some stamina, a fondness for rocks and a sense of humor also will help. It is not a ride to do alone.

    The described ride is a big loop on public land in the Lake George Wild Forest. The land is sometimes called the old Knapp estate because it was purchased by George Knapp, co-founder of the Union Carbide Corp., in 1894 and sold to the state in 1941. It also is known as the Shelving Rock area. The loop is shown in bold lines on the map. Inside the large loop are numerous other trails, sketched in lighter lines. There is an interior loop that is one of the best mountain bike rides in the Adirondacks, directions for it are included in my Mountain Biking in the Adirondacks guidebook, available at bookstores and bike shops in the region.

    The Map
    The contour lines on the map are spaced 30 meters (m) (100 feet (ft) apart). The GPS grid is UTM NAD83, units of meters. Set your unit to this format if you wish to follow your progress. The total loop distance is 15.1 miles, or 16.3 miles if you ride to the top of Shelving Rock.

    The Trailhead
    The ride departs from the Hogtown trailhead. Take the Northway (I-87) to Exit 20, drive north on NY Route 9 for a quarter-mile and turn east on NY Route 149. Set your trip odometer to 0.0 as you turn east. At 4.6 miles (mi) cross NY Route 9L and continue east. There is a Stewart's Shop on the corner, the last place to get supplies or gas if needed. At 6.1 mi turn left (north) on Buttermilk Falls Road; there is a Black Rooster Stoves shop at this corner. At about 9.6 mi the pavement will end. On the unpaved road limit your speed to 30 miles per hour because high speeds create a big dust problem for houses along the road.

    At 15.1 mi Hogtown Road goes off to the right; continue north on what is now Shelving Rock Road, and at 15.9 mi pull into the Hogtown trailhead parking lot on the right. The parking lot elevation is 1,300 ft (396 m) and the GPS coordinates are 615885, 4820805. Get your stuff ready, including plenty of liquids and food. If you have more than one car, and wish to avoid the last road climb, you can leave one of the cars at the bottom of Shelving Rock Road. There are several parking lots along the left side. The first two big lots are for campers, you may be happier leaving your car in the non-camping lot further down. Having a car at the bottom also is very convenient for swimming after the ride.

    The Ride
    Start riding north on the beginner-rated dirt road; you may notice trails going off to the left. The first heads south toward Buck Mountain, the second is sometimes called the Old Farm Road. At 1.3 mi (2.1 kilometers [km]) there is an opening, where a third trail (named Shortway) goes to the left. Continue on north to the end of the road, finishing at the Dacy Clearing parking lot at 1.5 (2.5). A little before you get to the end of the road there is a wide trail to the left, but it is just a parallel route that also ends in the parking lot, so just stay to the right.

    From the east end (right side) of the parking lot, continue on the now rocky road, one of the many eroded Knapp estate carriage roads in this area. The surface is no longer beginner-rated, degrading (improving for mountain bikers) to intermediate. In any case, the trail slope will be of as much interest as the surface. The first few hundred meters is rideable (in the granny gear), but then becomes rocky and steep enough that most riders will have to get off and push for a while.

    At 2.2 (3.5) the trail to the summit of Sleeping Beauty goes off to the right. The trails to the top of Sleeping Beauty, Buck Mountain and Black Mountain are closed to mountain bikes; stay to the left. After this junction is a steep pitch you will probably have to push up, after that there are alternating riding and pushing sections. Off to the left are beautiful views of Buck Mountain, Little Buck Mountain and Shelving Rock. The top, and the end of any significant climbing for a long time, is reached at 2.8 (4.5). The trail in front of you narrowing slightly to doubletrack width is all rideable, although you may find your skills stretched to the limit.

    Then next section begins with a nice intermediate downhill that has a couple of tricky spots and then becomes easier for a while. At 3.1 (5.0) Bump Pond appears to the right. To the left a few feet is a large fireplace and chimney, the remains of a hunting lodge. The trail now bends right along the north edge of the pond and then heads north again. Along here the trail is rocky, intermediate with expert sections. It may be wet (it was in mid-June). If so, the best procedure is to stay in the trail and go right through the wet sections. The alternative of going around the wet spots leads to undesirable widening of the trail. You may leave a few ruts, but it will cause no real damage because the water is standing in the trail, not running down it.

    In this trail section, at 3.2 (5.2) the closed (to mountain biking) Sleeping Beauty trail crosses the Bump Pond outflow on a bridge and comes in from the right. Around 3.5 (5.7) there are formidable rocks guarding both the entrance to and the exit from a low wet spot. You might want to scout them before riding. A little after the low spot the trail begins to descend for its upcoming appointment with Fishbrook Pond. Enjoy the exciting rocky downhills, sections of which are expert-rated.

    At 4.2 (6.7) you reach the south edge of Fishbrook Pond. The trail turns to the right, but skip that for a second and continue straight to the water's edge to enjoy the beautiful view for a while. You can see a lean-to across the pond at which you later will arrive. When ready to resume, the trail goes along the east edge of the pond to another lean-to. Just past this lean-to is a sharp climb, and then the trail drops to a rocky rideable crossing of the pond outflow stream. Just across the stream the trail has a snowmobile marker on it. Continue on the snowmobile trail and ride to a trail junction at the northeast edge of the pond, reached at 4.7 (7.6).

    This may be a decision point for you. If getting to this point has pushed your technical ability or fitness to the limit, you may wish to ride back to the trailhead the same way you came in. You will have the exciting downhill back to Dacy Clearing, and will end up with nearly 10 miles of riding. Remember, mountain biking is about having fun, not proving how tough you are.

    If you wish to continue following my directions, take a left turn and walk the short but very rocky drop and then ride along the north edge of the pond. The trail is sometimes difficult to see here. It goes right between the shore and the second lean-to. After the lean-to are sections of very exciting singletrack, where in June I picked up my first bruises of the day. The trail appears to be poorly located here; it continues northwest right alongside a marshy area and has some wet areas you may have to walk. Then some gentle descending begins; even with only slight slope the trail is very demanding.

    At 6.0 (9.6) the Erebus Mountain trail comes in from the left; the sign pointing west states it is 1.5 mi to the lakeshore. At this point the steep descending begins; some sections at gradients exceeding 25 percent. It is probably rideable all the way to the lake; in June I tried to do so and picked up a couple of more bruises. I won't attempt a blow-by-blow description, just expect a couple of challenging stream crossings, some ledges, some steep short drops and millions of rocks. Try not to skid your tires. My riding advice is simple: Try not to look down at the front tire. Instead, keep looking well forward so you can select a good line. Around 7.6 (12.3) you will bounce down to the shore, either exhilarated or relieved (maybe both).

    Turn left here and ride the beginner-rated dirt road south along the shore of beautiful Lake George. On the weekday Darryl Caron, your trusty Adirondack Sports & Fitness publisher, and I did the ride it was idyllic: steep slopes on the left, a peaceful lake on the right, the sloping profile of Tongue Mountain further to the west. Adding to the beauty is the extensive rock work done on the road. On a weekend it might not be as quiet as during the week; however, whenever you ride just cruise south and enjoy the experience life is good.

    At 8.1 (13.0) there is a trail to the left; ignore it and continue along the lake. At 8.8 (14.2) there is a shortcut trail to the left; again stay to the right. Just a tenth of a mile further you need to make a left turn; going straight will lead you out onto Red Rock (which you may want to do). Just after the left turn the shortcut comes back in from the left and then just past that at 9.0 (14.6) a trail goes up to the left. There are a variety of signs here; continue south along the shore. A sign points the way saying it is 1.3 mi to the Shelving Rock foot trail. Ignore the forbidding sound of the words "foot trail."

    At 10.5 (16.9) your peaceful sojourn will be abruptly shattered as you arrive at the base of this foot trail, climbing sharply to the left. Make the left turn; the road south ends at private land closed to public access. Be calm and try not to curse me as you push, drag and wrestle your bike up the 500 ft of vertical. If it is any help, there are some spectacular rocky cliffs to see along here. At about 11.1 (17.8), after 30 minutes of climbing while pushing/dragging your bike, a T is reached. Turn right and start riding again on an intermediate-rated twisty trail. At 11.3 (18.3) another T is reached. If you wish to ride to the top of Shelving Rock for great views of Lake George and the mountains, turn right. It is about a kilometer (.6 mi) to the summit 200 ft above. For the distance listing, I'm taking a left turn here.

    You are now on a rocky road that descends the steep slope using numerous fun switchbacks. At 12.26 (19.74) there is a junction. Turn right and ride to Shelving Rock Road reached at 12.4 (20.0). Assuming you don't have a car parked here, all you have to do is turn left to steadily climb up the road back to the Hogtown trailhead (800 ft above you) reached at 15.1 mi (24.3 km).

    After this adventure you might want to take a refreshing dip in Shelving Rock Bay you've earned it! On the accompanying map you can see the trails that go down to it.

    This was found at www.adksportsfitness.com (July 2002-maps included)

    Gary Thomann is an engineer who lives in Scotia. He enjoys mountain and road biking, working on trails, teaching and making maps. His first book Mountain Biking in the Adirondacks: 25 Great Trail Rides (Singletrack Publishing) is available now.
    Last edited by bridrive; 07-02-2004 at 08:55 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info- that is the loop I was interested in. Apparently, there are several ways to get around that area. Planning on riding it today- will post a report as long as I don't get snake bit, lost in the woods, or die during the ride. Guess I will bring the light armor for some of the descents.
    Check out some of our local hills: CDRC (Capital District Road Climbs)

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    Shelving Rock Loop (aka Lake George WF Death March)

    A buddy and I rode the route as described by Gary Thomann in bridrive's post above. I'll use the term "rode" loosely, since we probably hiked almost a third of the total 15 mile distance. In our estimation, the condition of many of the trails described in the route have degraded to unrideable- I'll try to describe the tough spots, that way people will know what they're getting themselves into.

    Dacy Clearing to Bumps pond: Thomann states that most riders will have to push up this one- it's no joke . The trail surface has been severely eroded and there is very little dirt left. It is all jagged rocks and pretty steep. There were some good veiws of the lake along the way though. Probably a good 1/2 hour hike-a-bike to the rideable stuff at the top. The descent to Bumps Pond is fun though.

    Bumps pond to Fishbrook pond: A lot of this trail was rideable. There were some wet spots to negotiate- deep mud holes that would have been difficult if not impossible to ride without ending up covered in black stinking mud. The trail at the north end of Fishbrook pond is difficult to follow. It was very technical and also wet in some areas. Thomann calls this " very exciting" singletrack. It was exciting to find the trail when you'd thought you'd lost it!

    1500' "expert" rated descent to the lake shore : It wasn't terrifying- this was the best part of the ride. Steep and technical, rocky singletrack, and with a few really tough spots, but we rode about 95% of the entire 1.5 miles. It is very steep in sections, but also very fun.

    Lake shore to Shelving Rock mountain: 99% unrideable and steep hike-a-bike climb . It is very steep and rocky, and will take you about 1/2 hour to hike up with your bike on your shoulder. Curse you Gary Thomann! This is the most physically demanding part of the ride. The descent from Shelving rock is fun.

    Since we had one car, and parked in the Hogtown TH lot, we had to grind up the remaining 2.5 miles and 800' of vertical on Shelving Rock road .

    It was a tough "ride". Personally, I'd prefer a little more riding and less hiking. If I wanted to hike, I'd have taken a lightweight day pack and left my bike at home.
    Last edited by Adirondack Blues; 07-11-2004 at 02:37 PM.
    Check out some of our local hills: CDRC (Capital District Road Climbs)

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    Interesting....

    Quote Originally Posted by Adirondack Blues
    A buddy and I rode the route as described by Gary Thomann in bridrive's post above. I'll use the term "rode" loosely, since we probably hiked almost a third of the total 15 mile distance. In our estimation, the condition of many of the trails described in the route have degraded to unrideable- I'll try to describe the tough spots, that way people will know what they're getting themselves into.

    Dacy Clearing to Bumps pond: Thomann states that most riders will have to push up this one- it's no joke . The trail surface has been severely eroded and there is very little dirt left. It is all jagged rocks and pretty steep. There were some good veiws of the lake along the way though. Probably a good 1/2 hour hike-a-bike to the rideable stuff at the top. The descent to Bumps Pond is fun though.

    Bumps pond to Fishbrook pond: A lot of this trail was rideable. There were some wet spots to negotiate- deep mud holes that would have been difficult if not impossible to ride without ending up covered in black stinking mud. The trail at the north end of Bumps pond is difficult to follow. It was very technical and also wet in some areas. Thomann calls this " very exciting" singletrack. It was exciting to find the trail when you'd thought you'd lost it!

    1500' "expert" rated descent to the lake shore : It wasn't terrifying- this was the best part of the ride. Steep and technical, rocky singletrack, and with a few really tough spots, but we rode about 95% of the entire 1.5 miles. It is very steep in sections, but also very fun.

    Lake shore to Shelving Rock mountain: 99% unrideable and steep hike-a-bike climb . It is very steep and rocky, and will take you about 1/2 hour to hike up with your bike on your shoulder. Curse you Gary Thomann! This is the most physically demanding part of the ride. The descent from Shelving rock is fun.

    Since we had one car, and parked in the Hogtown TH lot, we had to grind up the remaining 2.5 miles and 800' of vertical on Shelving Rock road .

    It was a tough "ride". Personally, I'd prefer a little more riding and less hiking. If I wanted to hike, I'd have taken a lightweight day pack and left my bike at home.
    Thank you for that great "true" review AB. I had that ride on this years "todo" list, but I may now put it off. Excellent follow-up post!

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