December 3, 2017
MTB athlete's playground with extraordinary views and sights all along the ridge!
NOTES RELEVANT TO RATING: there are zero bridges and none needed, IMO; loose material is minimal and stumps/boulders/felled trees were navigable; trail is at least moderately maintained, but could be stellar with a dedicated trail love crew. No major complaints at all, though. 4.5 stars...5.0 stars if it received a weekend of dedicated trail care.
The climb to the top of 770 is a superb effort and achievement. The arduous sections of 6.0-7.0 % grade make the 3.0 % grade feel like a rest stop, but helps you regain your juice to tackle the next hard effort. But be sure to save some for the ridge - you're not done climbing!
The vistas are incredible along the ridge and I'm certain there are hidden nooks and spaces that would be great to explore. Next opportunity I have, I would definitely make this a bikepacking trip and set up camp to explore around more. Alternately, if you have the convenience of a drop ship friend, you could have your camp supplies delivered by a friend at the top of 770 (Collierstown Rd. from the West or Turnpike Rd. from the East). Keep in mind, the route to the top is essentially one lane travel with few opportunities for vehicles to pass each other, if needed.
My only complaint about the loop is that it was too short and I currently have insufficient juice to ride it twice in one day. It was a blast and my preference would be to run it 2x. You'll never be bored on this ride.
Near the end of the ridge climb, you'll have to hike-a-bike up stone steps through Pete's Cave - a conglomeration of enormous stone outcrops that form an eery, but awesome cavernous route up and over to continue the trail.
NOTE: Be prepared with something to cover your arms & legs as there is a good deal of mountain laurel shrub growth very close to or growing into the trail at several points along the way.
The descent (as I took the right at the end of the ridge towards Longdale to 334) was, as a previous contributor indicated, "a hoot"! It was ravine descent heaven! My only regret was that I rode this on my full-rigid fatty to honor Global Fatbike Day 2017 (12/2/17) instead of my full sus Santa Cruz. I recommend the suspension, but you should note, the ravine descent is a perfectly smooth (albeit narrow) bench cut all the way down. The only thing it was lacking was more time and a lift back to the top.
DH NOTE: if you take Rte. 334 to the right (because you parked your vehicle at the junction lot of 770/334) save some juice for the jumps! There are some great little whoopty-doos before you hit gravel at 334!!!
So much fun!!
You're easily able to take your time on this one to see the sights or blaze through to keep your legs burning and adrenaline high...or do two laps and take this as a prescription for lap 1 and lap 2...but be prepared...serious climbers and experienced riders only.
I rode it solo (a bit of a risk) - it's preferable to ride a trail of this caliber in groups of 2 with all the stuff you'd require in case of emergency or breakdown.
Have fun and be prepared with plenty of water, calories and supplies (including TP and a camp trowel). :)