July 29, 2012
First, let me say that there is a National Geographic Map ($12.00) that has a good overall trail map showing the complete Iron Mtn Trail. I recommend you "copy & blow up" the Iron Mtn portion of the map. You will need to set up a shuttle, you can ride either direction but I personally do not consider it to be an "out and back" due to the time required and difficulty. Do not ride this trail alone. As for the trail, drive to Beartree Campground and start at the LUM trail, which is the easiest climb of the trail. After one mile of climbing the LUM, go left at the intersection....If you ride the complete Iron Mtn trail, it's approx. 11 miles to the back side of downtown Damascus near Dot's beer joint. You have options after five miles (signs are posted along the way) to branch off and retutn to your car at Beartree. That seven miles alone is a tough ride. If you ride the total trail, you will ride the ridge line for five miles but it's rocky and has rocky/rooty climbs up and down several peaks. The total trail is very rooty/rocky, and has many steep rocky climbs and decents on a trail that is "washed out" for about 50% of the trail. Do not try this trail if you are intimidated with steep climbs of rocks, gullies, and roots and man-made boards across the trail to help prevent erosion. A few miles from Damascus, the trail is a narrow path with a long drop-off if you go off the path on the lower side. It can be intimidating. It's a tough, technical, aerobic, hill climbing and decenting ride. Be prepared for a "ride & walk trip". You may have a flat, be prepared, it's a long hard walk back. A GPS is recommended. One option (approx. 5 miles ride) is to get a lift up "fire road 90" (starting at Hwy 58) for 1.5 miles and head to Damascus from there. If you camp, I recommend the Beartree campground (no electricity). With all of this said, This was not my first ride at Iron Mtn....I enjoyed the challenging ride and will ride this trail again. Always remember to be safe and don't be too proud to get off and walk at some difficult/intimidating places.