Merli-Sarnoski - TRAIL

Merli-Sarnoski - Trail, Carbondale, PA, Pennsylvania

16 miles of ungroomed, wooded trails, 90% single track located at Lackawanna County owned Merli-Sarnoski Park, an 840 mostly wooded park with a 35 acre lake. The main trail is a seven mile continuous loop trail with 4 access points. Connecting and side trails are blazed blue or yellow and total eight miles. The trails were all newly blazed with composite tiles in 2004. There is a maximum elevation change of 650 feet on a side trail called HR 280. Most other trails have a change of less than 200 feet. A contour map of the park and trails are available at the park office. The trails are all open to bikes, hikers horse back riding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The park also contains a supervised swimming area, picnic areas and ample parking. The park is open from 8:00 AM till 8:00 PM from the first day of trout season (the lake is stocked) through October. Hours are from 8:00 to 4:00 the rest of the year.

User Reviews (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10  
centaur11   Cross Country Rider [May 25, 2013]

I see that Merli has not been reviewed for a number of years. So I will try to update now.
Recently a number of folks from our bike club spent a long weekend in the area to ride Lackawanna, Merli and Moosic. Overall our impressions were big thumbs up. Merli was as advertised in past reviews, lots of techy rocks, squeezes, drops and a whole lot of fun. It seems there has been a lot of work recently to try to make the red trail more user friendly which is a good thing. Some of the older single track was looking a little unsustainable with step climbs and long fall line drops creating unnecessary erosion. We liked the general layout with the red trail as the main loop and the blue trails (more difficult) which were spurs off of the red.
Unfortunately we had an outdated map which caused a little bit of confusion. Merli is mostly rideable with anyone with a good skill set. It was a little tougher on the SS but still mostly rideable thanks to the trail builders.
We had one beef, because of the new trail work many areas had little or no markings which got 2 of us lost for about 1-1/2 hours. Without the gps we would probably still be wandering around. Trail builders take note: please do some temporary markings to keep us visitors from getting lost. We know how tough it is to keep people from getting lost because we are a trailbuilding club ourselves. In our opinion the Red trail should be clearly marked so a first timer can navigate with out a map. Otherwise thank you for a great trail system.

Customer Service

Started out going clockwise but got lost soon after. I recommend a gps until things are marked better.

Similar Products Used: Moosic(Eales Preserve),
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
indyjones16   Weekend Warrior [Aug 28, 2009]

so i went camping with family at nearby Promised Land State Park and was looking for a place to ride. after hitting the PA forums for some ideas we settled on Merli.

this is the first trail that I've ridden off Long Island and if this trail is any indication of how real trails are, I've got some work to do. all i can say is Long Island trails are nothing compared to this trail. the worst of Rocky Point and East Setauket is still easier than the orange of Merli.

we started the trail using the starting loop. apparently, not many people use the start loop since it was overgrown. just head over to the stables and pick up the trail there. getting up the first hill was no biggie, there were some rocks and roots. as we progressed through the trail, the rocks became more prevalent. just so you all know where I'm coming from on this, on LI we do not have rocks. at least not like PA has. LI rocks are less than 3" in diameter. we made it to the Boneyard and I got half-way down before taking a spill. we ended up walking the bikes the rest of the way down and then turned the corner just to have to walk them up the hill again. the view of the field was nice. BTW, hats off to PA for having windmills. from there we started riding again only to have to get off the bikes and walk around the mud and up a few more hills. i have to admit that we did not finish the trail. we got to the lake and wimped out. it took us nearly 3 hours just to get to the lake.

let this serve as a warning to LI riders; if you are a weekend warrior and still find LI trails to be a challenge, wait to ride Merli. however, I'm glad we tried and i wouldn't trade the experience.

Customer Service

i can't really recommend a route considering we never finished the trail. however, i would love to come back and try it again.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Tim.Limer   Weekend Warrior [Jul 04, 2009]

I've been to the park a few times but this is the first time I brought my bike. I am pretty much a beginner. There were no maps available to take with me so I studied the one posted as best I could. So I had a hard time finding the red trail head. Once I found the (an) entrance I had a lot of fun. I walked my bike in a few places and stopped in many to negotiate tricky turns, but had a lot of fun. I don't have much to compare it to. It was not a great aerobic work out for me (compared to when I run) because I had to keep slowing down, stopping and walking. With some practice it could be though.

Customer Service

There is a pink ribbon on the left as you go down hill after the pull off for the correctional facility (whatever that is) but before you get to the parking lots. It takes you up the hill and you get into some good stuff quickly. I rode for an hour and only scratched the surface of the trails.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
zenboz   Cross Country Rider [Aug 19, 2008]

Merli/Fell Mountain is really fun and challenging. Because it is on a mountain, it is my favorite summertime trail to avoid the humidity and overgrown briars that plague many lakeside trails. It offers a few good climbs, alot of nice drops and bedrock trail, and of course tons of rocky singletrack. There is good diversity of features (except for long stretches of smoothness) that will test your abiltiy to balance, lift, twist and drop the bike. This is a trail you may find yourself doing a lot of grinding and using your entire body to navigate, but not so much that it's impossible, excessively tiresome or dangerous (unless you're a beginner). If you like to ride at a nice steady pace, but not race, you can probably just use a hardtail here, as there are very few spots you will be speeding over anything bumpy.

Customer Service

Drive up the hill from the entrance and park in the first lot on the left. I normally go clockwise from the parking lot on the small blue loop to the red trail right next to the horse fence and then take the first turns I come across onto blue trails, and that seems to allow for a non stop ride. Going in reverse direction on the blues seems to be a little more challenging in spots. I personally would avoid HR-280 on your first few visits to Merli, unless you have ridden the other trails and still have energy.

Squeezeplay, My Brothers, Fox Rocks, and Twister all have some nice bedrock trails. Porcupine cliffs is just below some cliffs and it is off camber atop a steep slope. Blade has a challenging rock garden section towards the end of a clockwise loop. There is a new trail currently marked with pink ribbon. It is on the right just before you get to squeezeplay, and it is a fun rocky 5 minute see sawing loop that comes out on the paved trail below the horse stables.

This is a good map, though some logging in recent years has changed the red trail in the lower left part of the map.
http://www.elkmtnarea.com/fell_mtn_2003/merli_2003_map.html

Similar Products Used: Lackawanna State Park is not as technical, but has really nice flow for faster riding and a good network of trails. Prompton Dam is closer to Merli in distance, not as all around technical, but has some trails that area really challenging, scenic and varied.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Troy Pierce   Cross Country Rider [Apr 21, 2008]

This is a technical, fun, and challenging ride. A light full-sspension would be best for this. There are a few smooth sections to get momemtum on, but don't get comfy or too fast, or you'll get spanked! sudden rock-gardens and turns/new markers are just around the corner! With some markers ripped down, missing, logged out, etc it means you can get turned around just for enjoying yourself. I appreciate the markers, but with so many off-shoots (FUN ones!) with many different names - It would be helpful to label each with a sign showing the trail name and distance. (Many trails I've ridden have these, i.e. Prompton St. Park)

Customer Service

I start on the trail head right in the parking lot, and follow Red trails, just picking a few blue off-shoots each time.

Similar Products Used: Prompton - just remember, the rock gardens in Merli are nothing compared to Prompton!!
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Jawafrau   Weekend Warrior [Jul 24, 2007]

A +7 mile loop of mostly single track; fun, intermediate level stuff.
+12 miles total if you ride all the side trails, which are the main attraction. There you'll find lots of advanced level rock gardens with winding, narrow single track. Some of the side trails very technical...tons of fun.
Overall a fair amount of climbing.
Very well marked and maintained trails, some very scenic views.
The lake has a swimming and picnic areas, which are great for cooling off and getting together after the ride.
Overall one of the best rides ever.

Customer Service

The map on the link is not complete:www.cycle-cny.com/phpbb/Coppermine/displayimage.php?album=lastup&cat=6&pos=1

Similar Products Used: Pompano lake trail is a good follow up ride.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
Jason A   Weekend Warrior [Jul 24, 2007]

A +7 mile loop of mostly single track; fun, intermediate level stuff.
+12 miles total if you ride all the side trails, which are the main attraction. There you'll find lots of advanced level rock gardens with winding, narrow single track. Some of the side trails very technical...tons of fun.
Overall a fair amount of climbing.
Very well marked and maintained trails, some very scenic views.
The lake has a swimming and picnic areas, which are great for cooling off and getting together after the ride.
Overall one of the best rides ever.

Customer Service

The map on the link is not complete:www.cycle-cny.com/phpbb/Coppermine/displayimage.php?album=lastup&cat=6&pos=1

Similar Products Used: Pompano lake trail is a good follow up ride.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
john K   Weekend Warrior [May 20, 2007]

Despite the horse damage including lots of manure, and the timbering that devastated 40%-50% of the trail its still worth the trip. The blue off shoot trail near the outlet of the pond is excellent. At one point you are riding a mini ridge line for about 1/4 mile with a stream on one side and a 20' drop on the other. Whoever built the trail around the timbered area should be commnended, its some diverse terrain and tough in spots.
I have spent time in Utah in places like Slick Rock and this trail is one of the best you will find on the East Coast.

Customer Service

Red from the parking lot, take the second blue off shoot and then do the rest of the red for a great workout.
When your done write a letter to the county commissioners asking them why they made a mess of the trails wen they timbered and did not ask for any input from bikers, hikers and hunters.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
FastGherkin   Weekend Warrior [Sep 06, 2006]

Well- I'm an idiot and have hit "reset form" twice now, so this will be short. Flippin' awesome set of trails. Anyone who bikes in PA should at least check out Merli Sarnoski once or twice (to check out all the offshoots, of course!) Would not recommend to beginners, however, as I could see one easily getting in over their head in some spots.

Customer Service

Main loop is marked by red, offshoots by blue. The offshoots all return to the main loop which encircles the lake and returns to the field by the parking lot. My favorite side-tracks include Fox Rocks and Porcupine Rim (get a map from the office)

Similar Products Used: Rocky madness of Prompton State Park- just crazy since the floods. If you really want to test your technical prowess on non-stop rocks, check it out.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
mikeelikesit   Weekend Warrior [Oct 31, 2005]

This park has some of the best riding around, with an 8 mile main loop offering multiple side loops that connect back to main. Be prepared for plenty of rock gardens, tight trees, some muddy creek beds and did I mention rock gardens? If descending HR280, be aware that the climb back up is a real &%$##. Bike wash hose and restrooms available at the parking lot, and beach/swimming is nice too. Recent addition of State Police horse paddocks and logging (whats up with that?) in parts of the park have diminished the original somewhat, but still one of the favorites!

Customer Service

Get a map at the ranger station and pay attention at intersections. Most of the blue markers at intersections have the trail name written on them in black marker.

Similar Products Used: Prompton Dam, Lackawanna State Park
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
Showing 1-10 of 10  

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