Gambrill State Park - TRAIL

Gambrill State Park - Trail, Frederick, Maryland

Area is very technical, rocky and on a mountain top Red Trail, Short lots of speed bumps Yellow Trail, Great single track Black Trail, Harder then the yellow White Trail, walking only, but cool ride to go quick Blue trail Most difficult, can go to Cunningham falls 25 miles away

User Reviews (41)

Showing 1-10 of 41  
donow   Cross Country Rider [May 01, 2016]

Rocky, technical and beautiful. If you are in shape to ride hard for a few hours this place has a lot to offer. I have ridden this on a full rigid and on full suspension - definitely better on a squishy bike. Even with full suspension you will get a great workout from the pounding over the rocks. This area is not for beginners unwilling to fall. I went out for a 20 mile/3000 foot vertical climb day yesterday in the fog and rain and it was quite slippery and sometimes a little dangerous - I loved it. That said there is probably something wrong with me.

But seriously if you are in decent shape with the ability to flow with lines through long rock gardens you will love the trails and especially the beautiful woods and streams. Bring lots of water and some energy bars/goo its easy to get far away from the parking lot. Depending on the trail you will end up with some hike-a-bike but not a lot if you have a GrannyGear. Reminds me - always wear a helmet ( I fell and hit mine on a rock yesterday - time to buy a new one).

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Wade Gordon   Weekend Warrior [Mar 12, 2010]

This is far-and-away the best technical mountain biking in the greater Washington area. It is definitely very technical, and is most appropriate for at least intermediate riders. The yellow trail loop is a good place to start, and then start exploring the remainder of the trail system from there. While you can ride the trails on anything, (I have ridden it on everything from hardtail 29er singlespeed, to a full-on DH bike) I think it is best suited to a 5-6" travel all-mountain set-up. The climbing is well-balanced by some really fun downhill sections, some of which are fast and flowy, and some of which are more technical. The trails there are not for mountain bikers who prefer smooth pedalling, but if you are looking for more challenging technical singletrack, nothing else in the area matches up.

Customer Service

The yellow trail is a double loop that is clearly better (in my opinion) in a particular direction: starting from the parking area described, take the trailhead starting at the end of the parking area, rather than crossing the road and heading out that way. Head up the hill on the singletrack running along the right side of the road from there, Following the yellow trail (which is well-marked, but you can still get off the trail and get lost) will eventually take you to a gravelly power-line jeep trail. Turn left, and climb on this double-track to access the upper loop, which is where the best downhill section is. The best direction to go around the upper loop is to go past the first sign on the right pointing you to the upper loop, and keep climbing until you get to a second right a few hundred yards up the hill. Taking that right runs you around the upper loop in the direction that makes for smoother climbs, and more fun, technical downhill sections. This meets the lower loop back at the first right turn you went past, and finishing the lower loop this direction makes for a nice ride.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
struggleT   Cross Country Rider [Oct 12, 2009]

Lost in paradise - that's what we were after losing the yellow trail up at the top, somehow finding the blue trail after a nice power line descent, then taking it out into the 'shed by accident. One of the best days of my life, until, that is, coming back into Gambrill on the blue trail and hoofing up the "no return" hill. Next day, went out with someone who knew the area a bit and explored the shed some more. Riding here with a hardtail is an all-day a$$ pounding, but still heaven if you ask me. The kind of trail that is hard, but makes you better because there's always a line. Lots of great obstacles, a real mountain biker's trail system. And beautiful to boot.

Customer Service

Getting lost is actually pretty good. Next time I might try cutting over to the yellow instead of going up the "no return" blue hill, although it didn't kill us to walk it up.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
psuambassador   Weekend Warrior [Feb 24, 2009]

I went to Gambrill for my first ride on a mountain bike. It is incredibly technical and hilly, but I'm not sure I agree with what the ifirst poster said about walking the whole thing. On my first trip there ever, I only walked my bike on about 20 ft of the trail. I went uup some very steep inclines over steps, over boulders, through some serious rock gardens and down some pretty tight trails. Yeah, I fell a couple of times, but who doesn't when the riding is good and the course challenges you. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not familiar enough to comment on the different trails. I just basically ride until I find myself back at my car. Gambrill is a blast and highly recommended if you don't scare easily.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Wolf   Cross Country Rider [Jun 18, 2008]

Just wanted to post and say that for all you losers talking about "walking" your bike on the Black trail well... you are a bunch of losers. Im not professional and I ride that every chance I get

Customer Service

Black trail. THere are no others worth mentioning

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
slowoldguy   Weekend Warrior [Aug 24, 2007]

super rocky and technical on all 5 trails with huge slick boulders everywhere. senic. this trail is terrible. ride here only if you like carrying (literally) your bike up miles (literally) of straight-up mountanous terrain as steep as the stairs on you house. there aren't any switch backs here. basically, you park your car, gear up for a ride, and then walk the entire time. what a waste of time. i would say about 40 percent of this trail is un-ridable. wear your hiking boots b/c you'll be walking more than riding.

Customer Service

none.

Similar Products Used: for a REAL ride, try fountain head. its fast and rolling terrain makes for a perfect blend of up-hills and down. its got the teeter-totters to play on and the shock-a-billy speaks for itself.
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
4
srwings   Cross Country Rider [May 25, 2007]

Srwings' Gambrill Report

Audience: Beginner XC riders hoping to move up to Sport.

Rider: 45 y/o beginner class XC racer w/better than average endurance and average technical ability.
Bike: Gary Fisher Supercaliber 29" full suspension.

Bottom line up front- Gambrill kicked my butt. I was warned it was going to be rocky and hilly but I figured that since I had been training hard, placing well in my XC races, and had experience in riding the hilly, rough courses of Fountain Head, VA and French Creek, PA that I would do nicely at Gambrill. It was not to be although it didn't help that I came to Gambrill still depleted from an XC time trial 36 hours previous.

The nice thing about Gambrill is that the different trails intersect each other and can be accessed from a common trailhead. You can do a loop, come back to your car and refresh yourself, and then hit the next trail. I only had the energy to ride the Red and Green trails and part of the Yellow trail.

Red trail: This is listed as a 1 mile easy (for hikers) loop. From the parking lot I proceeded down the trail in a counterclockwise manner. The trail is uneventful and not too taxing. The only hard parts were shortly after beginning the trail. There are two steep rocky sections separated by about 50'. I had a small crash caused by riding too slow and picking a bad line on the first section but resolved to come back and clean it. Proceeding to the second section I bailed on this completely. I was just too intimidated by the closely spaced steep water bar steps. In retrospect, the line was obvious and straight forward. We're probably only talking a 10 foot section here but it's committing and you can't easily bail. After finishing the red loop I came back to the first steep section where I had crashed, dropped my seat and loosened the tension on my pedals. It took about a dozen attempts to where I could navigate it smoothly. Reversing course, I tried riding uphill on this section of the red loop and found it beyond my abilities.

Green trail: I rode this trail counterclockwise. From the parking lot there's a long moderate descent on a trail of loose rocks broken up by water bar logs. Nothing hard there. Then I hit the first ascent where I totally got spanked. The steepness of the hill, the rocks and the log water bars all combine to make for slow going and the eventual hike-a-bike. Subsequent sections on the climb to the top varied between strenuous to unridable. After cleaning one steep section I couldn't recall a time in recent years where my heart was pounding so wildly. Once you reach the top there are two overlooks on each side of the hill. Be sure to ride the stone stairs. The west facing overlook stairs are a little trickier but still fun. The descent down the green trail back to the car was nice but uneventful. Pay attention to the sharp left turn where the trail intersects with the Black and Yellow trails.

Yellow trail: After the epic hill climb I had on the Green loop I decided to ride the paved road back up to the top and descend the Yellow trail. I also rode this trail counterclockwise. The descent was rocky and somewhat steep but still within my abilities. There was one section early one that I dabbed which forced me to repeat it cleanly. The lower part of the descent turned into some nice fast singletrack interspersed with the occasional rock. Since I only rode a section of the trail I can't report on the other part of Yellow or its climbs.

Summary: Gambrill is a great place for the aspiring beginner XC racer to come work on their technical and climbing skills. Don't be too disappointed if you have to hike your bike.

Customer Service

They are all good.

Similar Products Used: N/A
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
hugerooster   Cross Country Rider [Oct 10, 2006]

Gambrill is most likely the rockiest trail I've ever ridden. My first ride here was on a 5" bike which pretty much gave me a free pass on all the downhills. Based on the other reviewers' comments, I headed out with some monster 2.35s and prepared to rip.
Now after having ridden it today, I don't know that I'd ever prefer to ride my hardtail there, although it would likely make some of the hills a bit more rideable.

I started my ride with the yellow trail which seemed to be fun, albeit a bit disappointing. Yeah, it was rocky, and yeah, there were some nice downhill sections, but it seemed to follow the road a bit too much. Other than that though, a nice trail.

Now the black and blue trails on the other hand....wow. These boys were pretty intense. I absolutely loved ripping down the blue trail all the way down into the watershed, until I quickly came to the conclusion that the sign at the yellow/blue intersection meant business when describing the blue trail as one way "no return". You in fact blast down section after section of baby head to cow head sized rock with the occasional ledge, boulder or log. You're having a great time blowing through small streams and milking the speed out of each tech section, and the trail starts to flatten some. Now you realize that you a) have to walk/ride your bike back up the x number of vertical ft you just ripped down, or b) find some different way to loop around.
Without a map, and already thoroughly worn-out, I foolishly decided to get onto the first road I came upon and loop my way around. Little did I realize that I'd be slugging my meaty tires all the way back up to the very top of the mountain before I could get back on any connecting trail.
To summarize all that rambling, I would recommend bringing a map, or at least familiarizing yourself with the layout of the roads in the area, given both the yellow and blue/watershed trails seem to dump you onto pavement at least several times.
I would also recommend going with larger tires. Seems to me a nice high-volume 2.1-2.25 would work well. My 2.35s were a bit much on some of the hills.

Customer Service

All of the marked loops seem well maintained and interesting enough for many rides here.
Next time I return, I plan on exploring the watershed area more (which can be reached via the blue loop)

Similar Products Used: Fountainhead, Avalon
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
alanbiker   Cross Country Rider [Oct 09, 2006]

it's just brutal the whole way thru. i've ridden the yellow before and it's ridable. but we just rode the blue and black, and it's impossible. the downhill parts are a treat and a technical challenge because of the rocks jolting your body. the black is a killer downhill. BUT, we were seiously walking our bikes for over 50% of these trails which to me isn't biking. you can't possibly ride up most of the stuff in the blue/black. all the reviews here make it seem everyone here is an expert and a good rider. i don't see how the average or above average rider is riding these trails...i bet most people are walking there bikes, especially the blue and black. maybe i'm in horrible shape but i doubt it...ithink it's cool to say you 'rode' gambril even though you can't.

Customer Service

off of rt 40 you'll see signs to the parking lot.

Similar Products Used: schaeffer. if you want a downhill fix, ride to a downhill mountain and have fun...wisp or snowshoe.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
Tarrazu Tico   Cross Country Rider [Aug 12, 2006]

Gotta love the watershed. I live down in Mountaindale at the base of the mountain. I'm riding up in those hills three times a week for sure, running two. You really can't go wrong with any trail up there only lost. Best well ridden trail is the blue by far!! Has some very technical sections though and seemingly impossible climbs. Fire trails are some of the best kept secrets. Ever been to White Rock? hinthinthint Wild Cat hills???

Customer Service

Between Delaughter RD and fishing creek RD is most excellent. I usually ride towards Gambrill. Also the end of the Watershed down to Catoctin Furnance. Both on the Blue.

Similar Products Used: Still looking
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 41  

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