October 29, 2013
Listen. Everyone who is saying the north side is hard, or "hell" even, has obviously not made it up and over the first rocky steep section and then down to the pond. Granted, that first hill is very tough, and even as an experience rider, I have yet to make it without putting a foot down. It's actually, after that bit, very similar to the south side, perhaps a touch tougher in places. It's very similar in terms of rocky, rooty single track. But way less people. I love bear paw, or whatever that trail is called, connect it to back packer, and you've got a good loop to rip on the hard tail (or XC FS). I have gone there now ~8 times, I live right near by. 3 of which were on my cyclocross bike, where I stuck to the south side. The whole park is worth a 1/2 hour drive, but certainly not an hour drive. It's pretty basic, and if you really rip, you will use up all the north side in ~45 minutes or less. But I have no problem doing multiple laps, and if I park on the sound side, where all the dogs are, then that builds on an extra 10-15 minutes just to get to the north side (I just consider it a warmup/cool down). Hey, I'm originally from the area, but have been in the rugged WV backcountry for a while, so maybe I am just used to rugged terrain, but I'd say Callahan is intermediate at best, except for that one section right after you cross the road going from south-->north.