October 15, 2012
Amazing ride! I rode it the direction that the two reviewers below recommended, and I agree that this is definitely the way to ride it.
Recommended route: park at the bottom of Pilot Rock if you want to finish with a descent. Ride roughly East on the gravel road to get to the other end of the Laurel Mountain trail. If you want to add in more singletrack, hang a left on the Pilot Cove / Slate Rock trail (#102) and add in that loop. When you rejoin the gravel road, take a left to keep climbing (or just continue straight). When you get to the Laurel Mountain trailhead, take a left onto the Laurel Mountain trail and climb/sidehill along the ridge all the way to the top of the Pilot Rock descent. Descend Pilot Rock back to your car, and love every minute of it!
Review: this trail is no joke: the climb is extended and technical, but is very rideable for the most part (but of course there are a couple of hike-a-bikes, at least for mortals). The descent down Pilot Rock is straight up a-mazing: this is technical backcountry singletrack at its FINEST! I rode many amazing trails across the country this summer, but this ride on Laurel Mountain easily ranks up there with the best of them on difficulty, entertainment factor, and technical challenge. While it is super gnarly, I disagree with GoldenGoose on one point: I would NOT want a downhill bike on this, for a few reasons: 1) It's in the middle of nowhere and would be a PITA to get a DH bike up to the top of this descent 2)It's not technical enough to require a DH bike. If you have a 6" travel AM bike that's plenty. I rode it comfortably on an older FS with 5" of travel and a too-steep HT angle. 3) The switchbacks are pretty slow-speed and pretty tight. A DH bike might honestly be too long and too slack to navigate those turns well.
Overall, this is an absolutely epic backcountry route with everything you could want thrown in: extended technical climbs, ridgetop riding, great views (if it's not cloudy), and one of the gnarliest backcountry downhills anywhere.