BETA) and their growing network of purpose-built mountain biking trails around Wilmington and Lake Placid. The Barkeater trails immediately rose to the top of my must-ride list. Finally, a family vacation in Lake Placid last week gave me the chance to sample some of the riding.
BETA’s already got more than 50 miles of single track spread among three main trail networks: the Lussi trails in Lake Placid (so named because the trails traverse land adjacent to the Lake Placid Club’s golf course owned by the Lussi family), plus the Hardy Road and Flume trail networks in Wilmington, and the trail counts are expanding all the time. BETA volunteers also maintain trails at Henry’s Woods and the Peninsula Trails in Lake Placid, and at Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake. Ultimately BETA would like to link these networks into a single massive trail system stretching from Wilmington to Lake Placid to Saranac Lake. You can read more about BETA and their trail building efforts in this article that ran in Adirondack Explorer last fall.
When you’re riding (or hiking, or skiing, or climbing) in a new place, it’s natural to compare it to other places you’ve ridden, and I found myself thinking that the BETA trails, overall, were less technically challenging than SMBA. But the Loggers Loops, especially the second and third Loops, are right on par with SMBA’s expert-rated trails. One other thing bears mentioning: you’re going to need the maps (available at local Lake Placid bike shops, I picked mine up at Placid Planet, $10) to ride BETA’s trails. The Lussi trails straddle private land and State Forest Preserve, and once you’re out on State land, the trails and intersections are unmarked. Even with the maps, I became disoriented when I encountered an intersection on Loop 3 that’s not on the map, leaving me wondering for a minute if I was where I thought I was. I was.
The bottom line: Admittedly, I’m a relative newbie to mountain biking and haven’t ridden in a ton of different places, but there is a terrific variety of riding on top notch trails in the BETA network. The energetic BETA volunteers have done a remarkable job of creating a huge network of purpose-built mountain biking trails in a short amount of time (BETA was founded in 2009), and the network continues to expand. These are trails I’ll definitely return to, to re-ride and to explore.