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Friday, November 13, 2009

Blue Knob State Park Trail Guide

Blue Knob State Park is one of the best mountain biking venues in western Pennsylvania. Its dome shaped peak is the second highest point in Pennsylvania at 3,146 feet. This mountain grandeur allows for some great climbing - in fact one can climb (& descend) over 1,500 feet from the valley floor to the trails near the summit. In other words, the fantastic descents here are well earned by climbing-time in the saddle.

What makes Blue Knob such a great venue? The answer is simple - a great mix of riding, lots of elevation, but most of all – the mind-blowing descents. The riding is very varied including paved road, double track and single track climbing; awesome technical rocky single track; and a tantalizing 40 mile-per-hour double track descent. Did I mention the straight-shot-hold-on-to-your-handle-bars single track descent, windy flowing single track through the trees; and fantastic views? This variability makes this a “must-ride” for any mountain biker from the region or afar.

The trail system here is very obvious and armed with a map it’s almost impossible to get lost.

Google map directions form Pittsburgh
96 miles /1 hour 59 minutes

Trail Map

Suggested Routes

Lookout/Rock ‘n’ Ridge Loop
This ride affords fantastic single and double track descents but with a lot of climbing - 750 feet on the paved Park Road and then 800 feet on double track. Mountain bike purest? Hate riding on paved road? That’s me and I still absolutely love this ride – and although one can avoid the road and climb on single track, I still believe the best riding combo here is to be had by following this suggested route.

Park at the Mowery picnic area off of Pavia Road (just north of the swimming pool). From here ride down hill on paved Pavia Road and turn left to ride up the paved Park Road. Climb 750 feet to the top of Park Road to the intersection with the Willow Springs Trail. Now you have another 800 feet of climbing on double track. Be sure to bear right to stay on the Willow Springs Trail (labeled number 10 on map) and prepare for a steep section of trail to get your lungs burning. The rest of the Willow Springs Trail is moderate climbing with another steep section just past the intersection with the Mountain View Trail (number 4 on map). Continue on the Willow Springs Trail until the second intersection with Lookout Trail (number 7 on map). Ride the Lookout Trail counter-clockwise and pop out back on the Willow Springs Trail at number 4. The Lookout trail is excellent singletrack starting with a fun descent and finishing with a rocky technical section which is cleanable if the wind is blowing in the right direction. From this intersection of the Lookout Trail and the Willow Springs Trail and again climb the second steep section of the Willow Springs Trail. This time rather than turning on to the Lookout Trail keep on going and turn left onto the Mountain View Trail. If you hit the ski access road then you’ve gone to far. Get ready for a truly AMAZING single track descent – go as fast as you dare. At the trail junction marked number 10 on the map take a tight right and ride the fun rocky cleanable single track that contours the mountain to north. Where this trial meets Camp One Road, make an almost 180-degree turn to ride the Saw Mill Trail (number 14 on map). Take the Saw Mill Trail until the Rock ‘n’ Ridge Trail can be seen on the right (number 13 on map). This trail intersection is by some large rocks on the left hand side of the trail. Get ready! This trail starts as very fast downhill double track. The descent is briefly punctuated by a short rocky up hill and then it’s back to descending – this time – on awesome windy single track through the trees. This trail then contours the hill side back to your car

Want some more climbing - this time on single track and want to do the fantastic Rock ‘n’ Ridge descent again? If so, add this to the previous ride:

Rock ‘n’ Ridge Climb & Descent Addition
Rather than jumping off Rock ‘n’ Ridge trail back to your vehicle, continue on the western section of the trail. Climb this ignoring a trail that comes in from the left (16 on map). Continue on the Rocking ‘n’. Ridge Trail to the Group Camp (number 14 on map), ride through the camp to the intersection with Camp One Road and the Saw Mill Trail. Follow the Saw Mill Trail and the directions above back to your vehicle and enjoy the descent on the eastern portion of the Rock ’n’ Ridge Trail for the second time.

Still want more awesome descending?

Crist Ridge Downhill Addition
Once you get back to your car after riding the Lookout/Rock ‘n’ Ridge Loop or after adding the Rock ‘n’ Ridge Climb & Descent start climbing up Pavia Road on the pavement. Climb 350 feet on pavement to the Crist Ridge Trail on the left and loose 400 feet on some great single track that joins Pavia Road just south of the pool. Climb a short way back up Pavia Road to your vehicle. If you have the energy, this is well worth adding.

If all this wasn’t enough, there are also great trails at Blue Knob Resort just a short distance away. These trails are close enough to add to the loops above! Check out:

Trail guide by Simon T

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