Submitted by blogger, Eric Adsit
In mountain biking there are many ups and downs, literally. Ask anyone who bikes and they’ll tell you without hesitation that the downs are the best. Darting between trees, banking turns on berms, launching off jumps…it’s the closest thing to a high-speed speeder bike chase on Endor a Star Wars fan can experience. The trick? Finding places with the elevation that allow for an extended downhill riding experience.
Many ski areas big and small have become summertime Meccas for those seeking a thrill on two wheels for just that reason, and Saranac Lake’s Mount Pisgah is no exception. Ski areas like Pisgah make great biking destinations because they are otherwise relatively unused in the summer and feature an elevation profile conducive to flowy downhill trails that leave bikers grinning from ear to ear. While some areas have retro-fitted their chairlifts to carry bikes to the top, Pisgah features several switchbacking climbing trails, and although it requires a significantly greater effort to reach the top, this is where Pisgah stands out. Although most mountain bikers dread the climb to the top, the Bark Eater Trails Alliance (BETA) built the climbing trails at Pisgah with uphill fun in mind. If you’re going to spend most of your time riding up, it might as well be fun, right?
There are several routes to the top, all with their own perks. If you’re a die-hard downhill rider, you might push your bike straight up the slope to the scenic summit, or grind up the gravel access road to get as many laps as possible on the insanely fun flow trail “The Cure.” If you’re not afraid to sweat a little, link the flowy Natski II loop in with the T-Bar trail for some optional rock bridges and a gradual climb. The climbing trails switchback with enough regularity to give your legs a break, but it still feels like you’re making progress. Any combination of Zonkers, IPW, and Iron Lung will be sure to get the blood pumping with some technical features and a steeper, but still manageable climb, with multiple options to loop in a partial downhill ride before continuing to the top. Be sure to give these more technical loops a try, they’re surprisingly fun!
Sure, you have to sweat a little to summit, but there’s no denying that going down feels that much sweeter as the wind whips it all away. At the top of Mt. Pisgah, you’ll find sweeping views of Moose Pond and the Saranac River. This is where the main event starts, “The Cure.” The machine-built flow trail winds across the open face of the ski area before dipping into the woods to become even steeper. There are plenty of jumps, steep berms, and drops, but just like the uphill, every feature is built with an option for the intermediate mountain biker. The jumps can pop for plenty of air, but they can also be rolled, and the most extreme features like the skinny bridge with a five-foot dropoff at the end all have ride-arounds.
In a flash, you’ll find yourself at the bottom, grinning ear to ear and ready to pedal back to the top. And that’s why Pisgah is such a great uphill bike park: you ride it til you can’t ride anymore.
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