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This is a very rocky, continually challenging trail. Stephen's trail alternates between flowy singletrack and rock garden mania. It sidehills a few miles, then you start to veer east and make the climb to the ridgetop. The climb is nothing less than brutal in places. The combination of grade and technical requirements will force most off their bikes a time or two, but it's a great ride. When you hit the ridgetop, go right on the Massanutten trail. Again, more cool singletrack and and rock gardens with an occasional view of the valley between Massanutten and Shenandoah. There's an optional out-and-back to the top of Kennedy peak which may or may not be worth it depending on your fitness level and desire for more miles and technical riding. Keep following the Massanuten trail--it'll turn into double track for a while before dropping you out on 675. Never fear, upon taking a right on 675, there is an almost immediate singletrack to the right and you're right back in the woods for some very technical rutted and rocky singletrack, some of which is just painful but most of which is just plain fun. This singletrack will deliver you back to the access road to the parking lot.
This ride is a lot like it's more famous neighbor, Elizabeth Furnace. While the last descent on Elizabeth Furnace is longer and more varied, this ride has two thing going for it over Elizabeth Furnace. First, it's all singletrack; you don't need miles of fire road to make a legitimate loop. Second, while there are some real technical challenges, even for advanced riders, you won't spend nearly as much time on mandatory hike-a-bikes. It also gets a lot less traffic; well worth the extra trouble to find it.
added by skibum
on October 9, 2009
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