Sat 9/5 Blue Marsh Lake- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Sat 9/5 Blue Marsh Lake

    Blue Marsh Lake Recreational Area

    Cruised down with Chriffer from Kingston PA and met up some people (Mike, John, Becky, John, who else?) from other regions for a nice moderately paced XC cruise around the lake.

    Blue Marsh Lake and the surrounding hills provide a very pleasant and scenic setting for some nice (90% maybe?) singletrack riding. Lots of great wooded areas, some zesty climbs, really fun downhill rollers, a number of well built wooden bridges crossing streams and other wet areas, and lots of trail that was just totally buff.

    And by buff, I mean buff-for-a-rigid-29er-rider.

    Don't forget though, if you go, that there DOES exist areas that are notably rough and feature significant roots, easy areas for OTB events!

    The only major fault I can see in the trails we rode is that a number of the sloped sections were too directly in line with the fall-line of the trail with the expected erosion present.

    Significant sections of the open-area trail have obviously been there long enough to get "scalloped" out, so that it's easy to go OTB if your tire starts to climb up the edge and then slips down again - as rider Mike found out very early in his ride.

    Please understand that I'm not putting down the trail system - quite the contrary - tremendous work has gone on here and it's obvious that it is maintained well, just trying to set true expectations!

    I would NOT consider this a good place to go when wet, the trail tread would probably be very slick, if not rutty and sloppy, and the steeper sections would likely be downright dangerous.

    There are a number of access points to the trails, the ones that I can specifically recall are the Dry Brooks Boat Launch area, Stilling Basin, State Hill Boat Launch.

    We parked at the Church Road parking lot, which I believe to be the most northerly/westerly parking area. This is immediately south of the intersection of PA-183 and Old Church Road.

    It is also a free parking area with no fee associated whatsoever. Some of the other access points are fee-based areas. I do not discourage fee contribution (the locally gathered fees tend to help the park more than monies doing through higher channels after all) but this can be a factor for some people.

    Since the group was expected to take more than a couple hours to circumnavigate the lake, a car was staged at the State Hill boat launch parking lot with water and snacks so that a mid-ride break could be taken and energy levels maintained.

    The State Hill Boat Launch entrance is just off Brownsville Rd, approximately 1/3 mile west of State Hill Rd - just over the hill. Very easy to overshoot if you are heading west on Brownsville (we basically did that twice).

    There also looks to be a nice pub near the intesection of State Hill and Brownsville, if you're into immediate-post-ride grub-ery, but we didn't take advantage of that since we'd parked on the north side.

    Official USACOE Web Site

    Loop Navigation

    If you were to nagivate this trail for the first time, alone, you may want some helpful guideposts along the way, so here's a "turn sheet" which is probably most-handy with a GPS, but should be helpful without. It is likely that I've missed a few bits so you may want to print out the topographic map I made from my GPS tracklog and take it along.

    N40.40722 W76.07893 Start from the Church Road parking area. Take a right out of the lot and go up the road a few hundred feed and drop-in to the singletrack trail on the right at N40.40875 W76.07850.

    N40.40217 W76.05963 Pop out onto PA-183 for a brief bit, go to the right, staying right on the shoulder and cross the bridge and about 700 ft later you drop-in again into the trail (on your right) near N40.40205 W76.05652.

    N40.38984 W76.03266 Cross the access road to the Dry Brooks Day Use Area, straight across.

    N40.38452 W76.03022 Cross the access road to the Dry Brooks Boat Launch, just across the road the trail turns to the left and parallels the access road briefly before curving to the right and continuing downhill.

    N40.37741 W76.02539 Turn right on the access road for Stilling Basin. Stay to the right on the pavement to and along the right side of the parking area at the bottom of the dam. The trail picks up again just the other side of the outlet from the lake, near N40.37815 W76.03180. Very shortly you will do a tight right turn with a moderately steep climb, with an immediate tight left turn following. This drops you onto some really REALLY fun romping downhill singletrack that winds through the trees.

    N40.36419 W76.03714 Be sure to turn left, not continue straight, if you get to the water-line you've gone too far!

    N40.36984 W76.03390 Public Restrooms! There's also a soda vending machine here if I recall correctly. This is also where you drop back into the trail after crossing the parking area for State Hill Boat Launch. This is the area where we stopped to take our lunch break. This was approximately ten miles from the start of the ride.

    N40.39338 W76.05979 Start of a longer sustained climb. It's a steady grinder, and the traction was great Saturday but I can see that it could vary quite a bit.

    N40.38810 W76.09067 You pop out of the trail here, to continue stay right and go past the access gate. There is a clear path around the gate, no dismounting required.

    N40.40371 W76.08194 Pop out onto Old Church Road, go right, stay right, cross the bridge, and you're back to the start, all done.

    From looking at other maps there probably exists more trail that continue from across Old Church Rd and navigates around the finger of the lake that is here, up to the bridge crossing at North Heidelberg Rd and back down kind-of paralleling PA-183, alas we did not ride it.

    The trail would be equally fun I think going counter-clockwise, and we did run into some people doing just that.

    The Church Road Parking Area is obviously a popular area for swimming when the weather is good, there were a number of co-eds around. At least, they *may* have been that old.

    Data

    GPS Tracklog that I took is available for download here.

    Ride profile...



    Overall topomap of ride, click image for BIG version...



    Pixels

    Chriffer rolling a bridge, the "clean" way ...



    And some more misc photos ...














  2. #2
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    Great place for miles of smiles and a good work out doing the whole loop nonstop, you can do 30miles by continueing past church road and hit one of the gnarliest climbs around.

    Cool trip report - you put some time in on that one. Get that girl some clipless pedals for God's sake - sneakers and cages? This isn't 1989.

    One bit of advice - the Church Road lot has scene its share of car break-ins, which can wreck an otherwise stellar day of riding. I used to park down at the Stilling Basin, below the dam, but noticed alot of shady characters eyeing up my truck as I was gearing up to ride. (I am sure there are guys who ride Blue Marsh regularly can advise if the situation has been cleaned up or not. I get out there maybe half a dozen times a year.) A couple bucks to park at the day use area is well worth it; more people = more security. Also, has shower, sandy beach, lots of senoritas.

    There is a pretty good bar/resturant at Bernville Road and Pallisades, "Blue Marsh Canteen" for post ride refueling.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -HST

  3. #3
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    I ride there 2-3 times a week, last year they did have cars broken into at the church road lot I have not heard of any from the rangers this summer but they did tell me to park at the overlook which is just above the stilling basin and have done so ever since.

  4. #4
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    I have ridden there 2 times in the last weak. I never felt safe parking at the Church rd. lot. But doing so buts the visitors center some ware close to half way and its the only place to get water. What do you guys so about water when you ride there. I use a 100oz balder and i have come close to running out of water on hot days.

  5. #5
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    I had a 100oz and two bottles (with cytomax mixed in) with me. I didn't refuel at the mid way. I finished the second bottle close to the end and had drunk about 50oz during the ride out of the camelbak.

    Of course, i'm still accustomed to Central Texas riding, where i'd use 140oz+ in three hours and refuel.

    Last sat we'd dropped a vehicle with water as I mentioned in my writeup though, so we had good resupply half-way around.

  6. #6
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    pulser - I burn alot of water when I ride and depending on the heat/humidity, I will go through a 100oz camel back on the 22mile loop. If I extend and do all 30, I do what bear does, put to water bottles on my bike with sports drink. I use plain old gatorade, but cytomax or whatever u like, sports drink will help with hydration over 3hrs as well as keeping your glucosimine levels up- bonking sucks. go heavier on the sports drinks early in the ride than the water. I also use a GU per hour, seems to help keep me hydrated and bonk free. Somewhere I read about it and the rule was eat early and often during a ride, it prevents the bonk and helps keep you hydrated more than just powering on water alone. Works for me, might work for you.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -HST

  7. #7
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    eating early and often is definitely important. need not be big. the small two-bite-sized clif bars are perfect for me (when I can get them for free...) as one of those every hour or so keeps my energy where it needs 2 be. But, experimentation is good and whatever works, works. I know people who pack Payday bars, pop-tarts, and pb&j-bagel-samwiches.

    i had a friend who now-and-then packed Wendy's Double Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries along. Blecch. He never had a low-electrolyte-type problem though.

  8. #8
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    Also what time of day are you out for a ride, if it is going to be hot I will get out by 7:00am on the weekends and thats a comfortable pace,also I think where you start from has a big impact on how much water you use.If I start from justa road and ride counter clock wise I get some of the more hard climbs behind me since I am fresh, once you get over to 183 to me it is a nice ride back to justa.I also use a 100oz camelback and have not run out yet but then home is only 3 miles away if I do.

  9. #9
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    We dropped off 10 gallons of water and stashed food we did not want to carry at State Hill. I handle my hydration and energy the same as Bear (he is a monster climber by the way), and it get me through pretty good. Toward the end the hills were getting more challenging for my energy level.

    We try to get started around 0830 in most cases. Last week the temps were nice and humidity low. This was a huge plus!

    Thanks to everyone that helped on 9-5-09. Stick knows his way like a cartographer! Thanks Joe! Rider list includes: Stick, nHurD, trekmike,Chriffer, Bear, Watson, Ney, Becky & Strangersteve. Great group. Great fun!

    See you next time-- and others too!

  10. #10
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    Great trip report of one of my favorite rides. In case anyone finds the stock map a little lacking, I have a tweaked version of the Blue Marsh map here: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_0wr5dOHhUh...ailsmtmcr2.bmp
    DB Dirt Club
    DBs on Dirt since 2010

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the tweak map and the map in general. Next time the group gets together I would like to come along if that is ok. Two riders from my regular group have rode this and like it.
    1998 GT Palomar, 2009 Gary Fisher Paragon.

  12. #12
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    Blue marsh is my usual ride. Church road is not a bad area during nice weekends since it is pretty heavily used by people having picnics, horse riders and bikers.

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