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Discussion Starter #1
what do you guys think about this trail system? I'm visiting my sister in Herndon and looking for a place to ride
 

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Not sure what kind of trails you're used to but the Fountainhead trails are pretty fun. I've been there three times but it's a two hour drive for me.

It's a very well engineered directional trail. So if you like technical, narrow single track you might not like Fountainhead to much. You start on the green loop which brings you to the blue loop which brings you to the black loop. Doing the complete trail system loop is about 15 miles, not sure how long it is if you just do intermediate or beginner.

I feel like absolutely anyone can ride the green and blue trails. The blue trail has some optional small jumps and drops. The black trail has a pretty good amount of technical XC style riding with some difficult rock gardens, steeper climbs and descents along with optional 4 to 6ish ft drops and ladder bridges. It's enough to keep any advanced rider entertained.
 

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I went there once and wouldn’t go back. If it’s close it’s better than nothing though. Maybe it’s just me but trails that have you riding in circles don’t really amuse me. They try to do too much with the small amount of real estate they have and as a result the trails seem like they don’t go anywhere. A lot of short downs followed by short ups. Just when you start descending you’re immediately going uphill again. A lot of times where you are on the trail and you can see the spot you’ll be on in a few minutes right next to you. It’s not terrible but I’d rather drive further to get somewhere good. Just my opinion, some people might like it.
 

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I went there once and wouldn’t go back. If it’s close it’s better than nothing though. Maybe it’s just me but trails that have you riding in circles don’t really amuse me. They try to do too much with the small amount of real estate they have and as a result the trails seem like they don’t go anywhere. A lot of short downs followed by short ups. Just when you start descending you’re immediately going uphill again. A lot of times where you are on the trail and you can see the spot you’ll be on in a few minutes right next to you. It’s not terrible but I’d rather drive further to get somewhere good. Just my opinion, some people might like it.
You must like the old school single track kind of riding I mentioned haha!

Jimarin is spot on but the area landscape doesn't allow for any long climbs and they put a lot of effort into keeping the gradients a bit shallow. So there are a lot of switchbacks that make it feel like you're just riding back and forth. The black loop opens up a bit more without so many switchbacks and just let's the climbs be steep. Even on the black loop you won't feel like you're out secluded in the woods somewhere.

Like I said it's a well engineered trail. It's not a backcountry path in the woods. It's more like a county park for mountain bikes experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
trailforks doesn't show much in the area. looked for black trails and saw 1250 feet of climbing. next closest place would be fountainhead, about an hour ten minutes drive from where i am

what else would you recommend?
 

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I call it fountainrut. After a good rain, the middle of portions of the trail turns into rutted hell.

The other major negative: it is a haul to get to from the highway for those of us traveling from other parts of the DC metro area.

I visit there 1-2x every couple of years.
 

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Maybe check out Meadowood near Woodbridge VA or Patapsco near Ellicot City MD
Not as difficult as the black loop at FH but still fun.
 

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For the area, Fountainhead is fine. Just make sure it's actually open before you go there. They usually close the trail after a rain.
On the other side of the parking lot from Fountainhead, you have the BROT trail. It's multi use trail but should still be open after it rains.

In Reston (right next to Herndon), check out Lake Fairfax/Difficult run.



If you don't mind driving about 1hr, check out the Frederick Watershed or Elizabeth Furnace(Figure 8 of Hate). Both are about 1hr away from Herndon.


There is nothing REALLY difficult (Black/Double Balck) in the area. You are gonna have to drive a bit to find that.
 

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I live 20 minutes from FH and I have been riding it for 10 plus years now. All the comments above have merit.

I like it a lot. It is well built and thought out for an urban MTB trail. You can pop in for a quick session on the green trail and be back at your vehicle for adjustment/trade bikes/water, etc in 20-25 minutes. The green/blue is easily ridable (time wise) after work in the late spring/summer/early fall. And adding the black makes it a nice challenging multi hour ride.

Driving from Herndon is a haul: come down 29 to Fairfax County Parkway to get to FH. At least it will be a pleasant drive. I would still rate it worth your time to ride while you are in the area. If I am free, I would be very willing to ride with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, guys.
Forgot to post a follow-up. I did ride DC at night for a bit; was with the wife and kid, so it was just the mall. Next time I'm alone, I'll brave the streets and check out the area a bit more.
Fountainhead was a decent ride, did all 3 loops and hit green for a 2nd run and legs were worked out. Nothing terribly difficult, but a pretty nice ride with the water nearby. I agree with the downhill runs being extremely short; I think there were maybe 2 good dh runs before having to pedal again.
I think next time I'm in the area I'll hit the Frederick Watershed.

Thanks again
 
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