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I have off from work next week and im thinking about taking the the ride out to Blue Marsh and I've got a few questions. First, is it rideable, ive never been there so i dont know if it gets to sloppy during this time of year. Second, i hear its not to technical, just long, so would you suggest i bring the fs or the hardtail, and finally, wheres the best place to park and begin? I know i should bring some snacks and lots of water, but any other advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot for the time and help.


walter
 

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walter said:
I have off from work next week and im thinking about taking the the ride out to Blue Marsh and I've got a few questions. First, is it rideable, ive never been there so i dont know if it gets to sloppy during this time of year. Second, i hear its not to technical, just long, so would you suggest i bring the fs or the hardtail, and finally, wheres the best place to park and begin? I know i should bring some snacks and lots of water, but any other advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot for the time and help.


walter
It can be muddy at times, especially near the ski area, but it shouldn't be so bad as to be unridable. In other words, you'll get dirty, but it won't be a 30 mile hike-a-bike slog-fest.

Hardtail vs FS? I've done it on both several times, but can't say which is better. I suppose it depends on how much your FS bike weighs and how efficient it is. Also depends on how fit you are. Blue Marsh isn't a technically demanding ride, but it's not all buff singletrack either. The worst part for me is always the last 5 or 6 miles. It's full of relatively short but really steep hills. The HT's efficiency is good here, but after the hills I'm spent and would like to stay in the saddle and let the bike soak up the bumps on the way back to the lot.

That said, I've been riding my hardtail exclusively for ~ 2 yrs (gave the FS bike to my girlfriend). I guess what I'm getting at is that you might feel better at the end of the ride if you take the FS, but you'll probably get there faster if you take a hardtail. Really, you'll be fine either way.

Snacks and water....take as much as you can carry. Really. I take at LEAST 100 oz of water and 32 oz gatorade, some gels and a cliff bar. You might not need all of it, but some days are tougher than others and there's nothing worse than bonking or running out of water with 10 very hilly miles miles between you and your car.

Here's a little write-up I did about a ride there that you may find informative (or, at least, amusing):

Tuesday afternoon, Blue Marsh-style

Have fun, try not to get lost (it's easier than you think if you've never been there), and let me know when you're going. If I can swing a day off, I wouldn't mind showing you around.

P.S. Re: Parking. I always park at the Stilling Basin lot off of Palisades Rd. and just follow the trail markers (starts to your left if you're facing the dam.). You could park at one of the other lots, but then the mile markers won't reflect the true distance traveled (not that that really matters!)
 

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Where to park

You can also park at the visitors center. They have bathrooms (instead of the usually rank porta potties!) You can also get a map of the trail system. It's not the most detailed map but it may help keep you from getting lost.

The visitor center is about a quarter mile up the road from the stilling basin parking area entrance.
 

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"Tuesday afternoon" had me laughing out loud......

at 6am and I woke up the whole family. You must be a professional writer. I've been considering trying Blue Marsh and now I'm convinced that it's worth the trip. I'm from the Jersey shore and I think I'd like to camp out that way and make a weekend out of it. Any campgrounds that you would recommend? Do you think I'd be better off in a hotel room with a hot tub after the ride?

Thanks for the laughs,
Endo
 

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not a professional. . .

but I've always enjoyed writing. Anyway, thanks. I'm glad you liked my post. Blue Marsh is a great place for "classic" cross-country rides. There're no big drops, no hucking of any sort, no snot-slick 'east-coast' roots... just 30 miles of rolling hills and scenery. You'll love it.

Campgrounds? Can't think of any in the immediate area. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty, just that I haven't been to them. There are some nice campgrounds just outside of Kutztown, PA that wouldn't be too far from Blue Marsh (~25 minutes by car). If you stayed there, you could also visit Crystal Cave (within walking distance of one campground) or you could ride the 5 miles or so into town for dinner and a pint or two at the brewpub.

If any of that sounds interesting, try here:

Sacony Park Campsites and Cabins
RD 3, Box 306, Kutztown, PA 19530 (610) 683-3939

but be warned: I haven't been to that campground since leaving college (Kutztown U.) 6 yrs ago. The cabins were built in '96 or '97, so should still be in pretty good shape if you decide to stay in one.

If you're interested in riding with someone or you need more info, feel free to email me or post here. I'm always looking for people to ride with.

EndoLookout said:
at 6am and I woke up the whole family. You must be a professional writer. I've been considering trying Blue Marsh and now I'm convinced that it's worth the trip. I'm from the Jersey shore and I think I'd like to camp out that way and make a weekend out of it. Any campgrounds that you would recommend? Do you think I'd be better off in a hotel room with a hot tub after the ride?

Thanks for the laughs,
Endo
 

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Thanks for the info......

Stick,

My sister lives in Allentown, Pa, so I could use her house as a home base instead of camping if nothing looked good. Another ride I've been wanting to do is French Creek and the camping looks good there. I'll PM you if I head out to Blue Marsh to see if you want to ride.

Endo
 

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French Creek is great. Totally different from Blue Marsh, but still great.

Where B.M. is predominantly smooth and fast with a few rocky sections thrown in, F.C. is almost exactly the opposite: Rocks, rocks, more rocks, with a few smooth sections. French Creek tends to stay muddy for a long time after a rain, particularly in the low-lying areas by the creek so be prepared (i.e. leave the semi-slicks at home)

If you're staying in Allentown, you might want to check out Jim Thorpe or the trails on South Mountain (there are two separate trail networks there: Lehigh & Emaus. Lehigh is better, but slightly more difficult to find the good stuff. Emaus is fun, but you've gotta climb a bunch to enjoy it). JT & SM are both closer to Allentown than either French Creek or Blue Marsh.

There's a lot of good riding in this corner of PA, in case you haven't noticed. =)
 

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What's the deal with Jim Thorpe?

Is there still singletrack that you can ride legally? It sounded to me like everything but the path along the Lehigh River was closed to mountainbiking.

I've decided to camp at French Creek for a couple of days in mid-May. I figure I can get my technical fix there one day and hit Blue Marsh on another day.
 

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EndoLookout said:
Is there still singletrack that you can ride legally? It sounded to me like everything but the path along the Lehigh River was closed to mountainbiking.
Um, at the risk of being flamed to death here, but I'll just say this: Jim Thorpe is closed to bikes like the Mexican border is closed to immigration. It's a vast area that's supposed to be closed, but that doesn't stop people from crossing, eh?

You should ask the folks at Blue Mountain Sports what the real deal is, 'cos they probably know more than I do. Still, some of the best stuff up there has yet to be posted as "off-limits", the stuff that is 'closed' is not routinely patrolled by anyone, and the goal of the game comission this year is "education, not enforcement" (i.e. if you do run into a game warden, they're going to tell you about the new policy, then ask you to leave instead of handing out citations and hefty fines)

Frankly, the move by the PGC to keep bikes out is ridiculous and hopefully policy-makers will come to their senses when they see the impact on the local economy as bikers stop coming to town.

I don't ride there as often as I once did, but I'm just going to carry a hunting license from now on. $30/yr is a small price to pay, even if it doesn't undo the ass-backward regulations.
 

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I Agree a great place to start...............

dsmeltz said:
You can also park at the visitors center. They have bathrooms (instead of the usually rank porta potties!) You can also get a map of the trail system. It's not the most detailed map but it may help keep you from getting lost.

The visitor center is about a quarter mile up the road from the stilling basin parking area entrance.
The Visitor Center: in addition to the bathrooms and maps..........there is water. Plenty of good parking too.
 

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The Switchback trail at Jim Thorpe is interesting. Several trail options develop while you are on the Switchback too.
 

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EndoLookout said:
Is there still singletrack that you can ride legally? It sounded to me like everything but the path along the Lehigh River was closed to mountainbiking.

I've decided to camp at French Creek for a couple of days in mid-May. I figure I can get my technical fix there one day and hit Blue Marsh on another day.
SGL around Rt 93 is closed I.E. American Standard and all other singletrack up there. Broad Mountain loop is allowed, bit it is all jeep road if you are into that kind of thing. Singletrack still open is on Flagstaff and Pisgah mountains (look for twin peaks rides)

PGC can technically confiscate your bike if you get caught, although I have never heard of it happening (yet)

happy riding
 

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Blue Marsh

We have ridden Blue Marsh multiple times. Mostly clockwise around the lake, and allways start at the ski mountain parking lot. This allows you to top off with water at the bathrooms drinking fountain. If you start at the ski resort you can either go clockwise around the lake and start off with what we call the flats, or you can go CCW and start with the short, (but steep) ski climb. It is just a long ride and you can get lost. Stick is correct. On the, I think sixth ride we made a 3 mile oops on one of the inner trails, so keep your head up. Don't go alone. Get a map at the visitor center. Take 100oz water one power aid and several bars. You don't want to bonk here, its not plesent experience finishing without a friend and having to go back for them. This is a great ride. If you use a wax lube take it along the dry dirt and mud you will see both will suck it off every 5 miles. I think that it is actually longer then 30 miles with the ski part?? Any body remeber the exact?
 

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LititzDude said:
I think that it is actually longer then 30 miles with the ski part?? Any body remeber the exact?
It's almost exactly 30 mi with the ski area trails included. If you bypass that area by turning right onto Church Rd after mile 14, you'll notice that you go from ~14+ to ~21, cutting off approx. 6-7 miles of trail around the ski area and bringing your total mileage down to ~23+.



I don't know why I've never tried starting near the ski area, but that's not a bad idea. The water at the visitor center mid-ride would be nice. Guess I'm just a creature of habit, and have always liked starting at the stilling basin.
 

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If you are in Allentown look me up- I am pres of Valley Mtn Bikers and have all the news for local trails (legal/not legal, conditions, etc..) or check out bikevmb.com
 
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