I’ve been out on my bike quite a bit since the end of ski season, so it seems like it’s time for a mountain bike trip report. This is from last week, my first-ever time riding the Spier Falls trails at Moreau Lake State Park.
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure I had the skills for Spier Falls. The reputation is that the riding is great, if you survive. You can read what others have to say about Spier Falls here. In a nutshell, the riding is rocky and technical, comparable to some of the advanced trails at SMBA but with one added twist: a lot more vertical.
I rode with my friend Kirby and his regular crew of mountain bikers, a group that’s been riding at Spier Falls for years. I’ve ridden with these guys a few times at SMBA, enough to know they ride hard. That suits me fine: if I’m going to be away from my family for the evening I want to get some bang for my buck, and these guys always deliver.
The thing about riding at Spier Falls is that all of the trails are at the top of a 1200’ mountain ridge, the Palmertown Range. All of the trailheads are at the bottom. To get to the real riding you’ve first got to tackle a long climb. For us, starting at the Spier Falls boat launch, that meant a climb of about 800 vertical feet to kick off the ride.
I still consider myself to be a novice mountain biker. I usually figure that I can compensate for my lack of technical skills and experience with a decent level of overall fitness. That strategy worked pretty well for the first half of our climb to the top of the ridge, but the second half whipped me – and I was still at the back of the pack. Luckily, I got a flat, which gave me just enough of a break to recover while changing the tube (credit: Kirby did 99% of the flat repair).
Eventually we topped out, and that’s where the real fun began. The trails on top of the ridge are challenging but fun singletrack that wind through a beautiful forest of oak and pine, with lots of rocks and roots and technical ups and downs. We rode a circuit that combined sections of the Ridge Run, Western Ridge, Cottage Park and Eastern Ridge trails, but there are many options for long and short loops on the ridgetop. Stopping at one of the overlooks on the Western Ridge trail, we caught our breath for a few minutes while the sun’s rays streaked through an opening in the clouds. 800 feet below lay the Hudson River with the foothills of the Adirondacks rising beyond.
The last bit of our descent back down to our parked cars was almost in the dark. We rode for almost exactly 3 hours, covering (my guess) maybe a dozen miles. One of the guys asked me how I liked the ride and made the comment that first-timers either get hooked or never come back. Oh, I’ll definitely be back.
Trail map can also be viewed here.