April 16, 2015
Manorville Hills offers a fast, smooth and flowy ride through an expansive pine forest. There are not many technical features but, in my opinion, this trail is a joy to ride through at a fast pace, especially, as in my case, with a single speed, rigid 29er.
The trail begins as a two-way that is at times either singletrack or fire-road. This continues for a few miles until one reaches a large erratic (boulder) named Terrapin. From here on out the trail is a one-way circuit singletrack (make a right just after Terrapin, the directionality is counterclockwise). After going around this circuit, soon after reaching an erratic named Jabba (it does look like Jabba the Hutt) the trail returns to Terrapin. To get back to the trail head one must make a right and proceed "backwards" down the same two-way that was taken to get to Terrapin in the first place. So, if looking at the trail from above our would appear as a drawing of a balloon on a string.
The topography of the one-way portion of this trail can be likened to an egg crate: it is dominated by small, regularly-spaced undulating knolls of about a 40 to 50-foot prominence and perhaps 100-foot radius. The trail snakes and winds up, around, over and down these papillary hills. There are no surprises in grade; Manorville Hills acts on the cyclist in a more insidious fashion than the other trails in the area. The climbs are grinders and the resultant descents are thankless, due in equal part to both their tortuous design and also to the unusual ground conditions which I will explain. Thanks to the preponderance of pine trees, the ground is mostly covered in a layer of fallen pine needles. This can make traction somewhat unpredictable as compared to the more commonly encountered soils of nearby trails. I have to say that, owing to this, on my last ride there I nearly slid into a hulking pine tree, I luckily unclipped and corrected my angle at the last moment (so much for a no-dab ride). None of the above is meant to be taken as a complaint, I consider this trail to be a unique challenge more focused on cardiovascular fortitude and low-traction handling skills than on line choice and hucking.
The tree spacing is generally wide with only a few tight squeezes and there are very few roots. Without rocks as well, the trail is very smooth and so I could easily imagine someone riding a cyclocross bike through its entirety.
So if you want a flowy grinder over pine needles, head over to Manorville Hills. P.S., If you see a guy on a white rigid Niner with a white helmet and orange goggles, let me know if my review was accurate.