Moraine State Park, located about an hour north of Pittsburgh, is the epitome of rocky, technical Pennsylvania riding, and it’s a must-see if you’re in the vicinity of the Steel City. A couple friends and I checked it out for the first time last month, and it did not disappoint!
The main mountain bike trailhead is located off Mt. Union Road, and from there, a variety of options await. All the bike trails branch off the powerline trail, which offers a shortcut back to the parking lot or to other sections of trail. The powerline runs along the northernmost edge of the trail system, and leads directly back to the parking area.
As we suited up in the parking lot, another cyclist arrived, and we talked to him for a while about the trails and the area. He suggested that we take the second right from the powerline rather than the first, stating that the first right led to some extremely technical sections of trail that were largely unrideable. We decided to give it a shot anyway, figuring we could always turn around if things got too hairy.
This was actually the most fun section of trail–challenging rock gardens, but not unrideable for our abilities (I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’m used to Pennsylvania rocks). We slowly climbed towards the top of the hill, where we found some fast, flowy sections of trail before descending down the other side through large, flat boulders and small drops. The rest of the ridgetop was rolling and rocky.
We stayed on the outside loop, finally descending off the ridge down to the 3,225-acre Lake Arthur. Near the lake, the trails became more grassy and less technical. We jumped on doubletrack for a little while next to the water, then began to climb back up the ridge, on singletrack once again. The climb was pretty grueling, but so worth it for the fun and scenic trails this park has to offer.
Though unnamed, all mountain bike trails in Moraine State Park are marked with red blazes, while the hiking-only trails are marked with blue. The lake flanks the trail system at the southern end, while the powerline borders them to the north, and navigation is pretty simple if you keep both those things in mind.
Post-ride, check out the town of Slippery Rock, home of North Country Brewing Company, for some good eats and brews.
Your turn: Who’s ridden at Moraine? What have your experiences been like?