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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A new trail for mountain biking novices

Carol MacKinnon Fox bikes a Three Sisters Trail in Wilmington. Photo by Phil Brown.

My girlfriend Carol and I bought mountain bikes a few years ago and starting exploring the great trail networks maintained by the Barkeater Trails Alliance in the greater Lake Placid region. For the most part, we stick to easy trails—those without a lot of elevation gain.

Last year, moved by curiosity, we checked out an expert trail in Wilmington called Good Luck (sarcastically, I assume). We dismounted after a few minutes and started pushing our bikes uphill and over boulders, one big rock after another. We were astounded that people actually pedal up such a  trail.

A few weeks ago, we returned to Wilmington to try our luck on another uphill route—one designed for novices. We liked it so much that we did it twice and still had enough energy left to hit a few other trails.

BETA built this gem of a trail on land purchased by the Lake Placid Land Conservancy in 2017. The 100-acre parcel is now known as the Three Sisters Preserve. It’s located off Hardy Road, a mile or so east of the parking area for BETA’s other Hardy Road trails. We parked across the road from the preserve trailhead, but some people ride their bikes from the parking area.

The Three Sisters Trail (also known as the Quaker Mountain Trail) winds uphill in wide, gentle loops for 1.2 miles. The mountain-bike app Trailforks gives the elevation gain as 420 feet, but my Garmin GPS watch measured a gain of only 315 feet. Judging from the contour lines on BETA’s trail map, the watch is accurate.

In any case, the uphill ride is not difficult, and the downhill ride is a blast. What differentiates Three Sisters from BETA’s tougher trails? Easy grades. Wide, swooping turns. A lack of rocks and roots. We got to the top in 17 minutes. The ride down took less than nine minutes.

“It was a good workout but manageable—a good way to get into biking shape at the beginning of the season,” Carol said afterward.

Kudos to BETA Executive Director Josh Wilson and Matt McNamara for laying out a trail that introduces novices to the thrill of downhill riding. And to the numerous BETA volunteers who helped build it.

Wilson said BETA intends to build more trails in the Three Sisters Preserve. He hopes that one day a trail will link the preserve to the Wilmington town park.

Interested in checking out the Three Sisters or the other trails on Hardy Road? High Peaks Cyclery will be hosting a mountain-bike demo day 3-8 p.m. this Friday (June 7) at the Hardy Road parking area. People can try out fat-tire bikes, standard mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes. There will be a free barbecue and refreshments.

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

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