July 30, 2014
I rode Bear Creek on Tuesday, 29 July 2014. Bear Creek Trail is in outstanding shape. It is very well marked with signage and there are good maps on the trail.
If you are new to this trail, just remember that there is the Bear Creek Trail and the Bear Creek Loop. Bear Creek LOOP is an additional trail generally located to the east of Bear Creek TRAIL. I only did Bear Creek Trail as an out and back / up and down.
Started at Gates Chapel Road (lower elevation) and rode up FS 241. (I also took a detour on purpose by going to the camp-ground.) There is a sign where Pinhoti I goes to the west. You cannot miss the Gennett Poplar - there are even railings / signs. I did the little loop at the top where you can check out the overlook on FS 68.
My trip odometer showed 12.6 miles, starting and finishing at Gates Chapel Road, short detour at campground, out and back on Bear Creek Trail. Since I did it that way, my odometer did not match the easily seen mile markers on the trail.
This wonderful trail is nothing to be afraid of if you know and follow your limitations on the few technical spots. Be prepared for a few rocks and small stream crossings. As far as fitness, it is about 5-6 miles uphill, but it is very doable if you stay within yourself. The warm up on FS 241 is a good idea.
I will try to add some photos on this site, and also on my flickr site https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbinv/ shortly.