Green Ridge State Forest Mountain Bike Loop

GRSF Mountain Bike Loop: One of the few level spots

GRSF Mountain Bike Loop: One of the few level spots

It seems odd that we went hiking on a mountain bike circuit, but this path has a writeup in the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s Hikes in Western Maryland.  It’s also an inviting purple line on the trail map for Green Ridge State Forest, so we decided at the last minute to add it to our Green Ridge bucket list.  It’s something like 4.5 trails down and 1.5 to go, but who’s counting?

Mountain Bike blaze (purple) and Great Eastern Trail blaze (white)

Mountain Bike blaze (purple) and Great Eastern Trail blaze (white)

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived on the scene.  I certainly wasn’t expecting the C&O Canal or Western Maryland Rail Trail, but I was surprised that the Mountain Bike Loop is a fairly difficult hike.  For starters, it’s 12 miles long, and there is a total elevation gain of over 1300′ from beginning to end.

Early fall color.  However, there was still a lot of green.

Early fall color. However, there was still a lot of green.

There is a short trail that leads from the mountain bike camping area to the loop, and from there the PATC recommends walking the trail in a counter-clockwise direction.  The idea is that this accomplishes most of the tougher ascents during the first half of the hike, allowing for an easier trip back to the car.  It sounds good in theory, but with a few exceptions, the first seven miles are uphill.

Francis C. Zumbrun Overlook

Francis O. Zumbrun Overlook

Interestingly, at the 7 mile mark, we came to the Francis O. Zumbrun Overlook.  Better known as “Champ,”  Zumbrun was a longtime ranger in the forest and is the author of A History of Green Ridge State Forest.  For his efforts, he has been honored with a platform high atop Polish Mountain that offers a great view of I-68 and the Town Creek valley.

Early in the hike there are a few EZ Outs at road crossings.  This is a rough trail, and it's easy to imagine a biker getting a flat tire or three along the way.  Honestly, I salute anybody who has completed this circuit on a bike.  It would literally shake me AND my Trek hybrid to death!

Early in the hike there are a few E-Z Outs at road crossings. This is a rough trail, and it’s E-Z to imagine a biker getting a flat tire or three along the way. Honestly, I salute anybody who has completed this circuit on a bike. It would literally have shaken me AND my Trek hybrid to death!

It’s also at the 7 mile mark that one encounters the Mountain Bike Loop’s merger with the Green Ridge section of the Great Eastern Trail, an AT alternative that runs from Alabama to New York.  Where the trails merge, there are numerous purple and white blazes the rest of the way.  It’s also noteworthy that this is one of the best marked trails that I have ever walked, and it’s almost impossible to get lost.  I assume that a lot of this is due to the fact that people on bikes need to see where they are going while moving much faster than a hiker.

Yes, the blazes are even on rocks!

Yes, the blazes are even on rocks!

As advertised, much of the last five miles are downhill, and we were fortunate enough to see eight deer on the homestretch.  I definitely enjoyed the hike, and I was surprised that it was far more taxing than the 13.84 mile stretch of the AT known as the Roller Coaster, but that seems to be the way things go in Green Ridge.  It was just another equally demanding and rewarding hike in the forest, and I can hardly wait to get back there to finish off the rest of my Green Ridge bucket list.

Camping/parking area.  Both the beginning and end of our trek.

Camping/parking area. Both the beginning and end of our trek.

Be Sociable, Share!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jamie on October 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    When I was a boy I would nag my parents to take me on the old roads. One of those was the former, twisty US 40 right of way over Polish Mountain. My parents told tales of the slow climbs and descents following trucks — 10 mph both up and down the mountain.

    That old right of way was bypassed at some point further back than my memory reaches. Yet because my parents occasionally took the time to honor my desire to explore, Polish Mountain holds a special place in my thoughts. Thus, I really enjoy your picture from atop the mountain.

    Actually, I enjoy all the pictures and the write-ups that accompany them. When you are hiking in the wilds of Allegany County or on the AT, there isn’t much upon which I can comment since I have little (AT) or no (Allegany County) hiking experience on the hills. Be assured, though, I follow your adventures eagerly and always look forward to the next post. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

    • Posted by LevelWalker on October 2, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Jamie,

      Thanks. This particular walk was a bit of a reach because we only had one car available. I was very surprised at the quality of the walk. The bike-pathy things were few and far between, and the challenge compared very favorably with local sections of the AT and Tuscarora Trail.

      If anybody isn’t familiar with the Zumbrun overlook, it would be up on the right after crossing Town Creek heading east on I-68.

      Thanks for the great comment. After deleting 100 or so spam messages, it was a sight for sore eyes!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>