Recently, the crew and I embarked on our fifth annual DID (Douthat in December). I’ll have more on the later, but for now I am going to focus on the the Monday following.
By Sunday night, it was just MS and me at the cabin. On Monday morning, we headed over to the Longdale Furnace area to scratch the North Mountain Trail off our list.
From I-64, take Exit 35 onto Longdale Furnace Rd. heading west. Keep an eye out for Route 770/Collierstown Rd, which comes up quickly on your left. Follow 770 for about a mile until you reach a small pull off / parking area on the right.
There is road that continues on the other side of the parking lot. For the route described here, that is where you will return. Get on your bike and go back out to 770 and take a right. Start climbing.
After about a 3 mile grunt, you will come to an intersection of sorts with towers up above you. Take a hard right and climb a short distance to another small pull-off / parking area. As the road starts to drop again, the North Mountain trailhead is on your right.
The North Mountain Trail
It starts off tight and rocky. Almost immediately you will be provided great views of the valley to the east along with Lake Robertson.
one of the first views
makes me smile
There is a slow, steady climb along the ridge for a few miles and eventually you level off with gradual ups and downs typical of a ridgeline ride. There are still plenty of opportunities to take in views, check out rock formations, and just simply enjoy the remoteness of the trail.
The standout feature of this trail is Pete’s Cave — a large, rocky area with steps up to a large crevasse — which sits toward the end of the ridge at one of the highest points of the loop.
See that picture below? Yup, that’s where the trail goes. Climbing and pulling yourself through while pushing/carrying your bike is quite a departure from most trails you’ll ride and makes this a truly memorable route.
the steps of Pete’s Cave
After reaching the top, take in another great view to the right along with lots of rock formations to explore.
Back on the trail, there is more up and down and narrow (overgrown) sections before a steep pitch up followed by another drop down to a sign that reads “Longdale” to the right.
In theory, you can also go left, but finding the trail on this day would have been a challenge. Fortunately, even during this time of year and with all the leaf coverage, we did not have issues staying on course.
The initial descent is rocky, narrow, leaf covered bench cut with a few off-camber sections thrown in for good measure. In other words, pay attention and have fun!
Eventually the descent takes you deep down into the hollow and it’s like a whole other world from the ridgeline above. This section is also benchcut, fast, and a back-country hoot. Just watch out for the locals and don’t fall into the ravine.
After 4 or 5 creek crossings at the bottom, you will come to another intersection. Take a right at the sign that reads “To FDR 334” and it will take you back to your vehicle.
This route is only about 12 miles, but it is a solid 12 miles of remote, backcountry bliss with no bailout points except for jumping off a cliff. Make sure you are prepared, and go scratch this one off of your own list.