Mountain Biking in Nova Scotia
The ride we describe here is actually one variation of the novice race circuit at The Gorge. The trails for this 4-km (2.5-mile) loop circle the upper perimeter of The Gorge, then zigzag across"Crazy Creek" several times. Throughout the ride, you can opt to continue on the novice trails or branch off and explore some of the expert sections of The Gorge. The expert trails follow the creek bed more closely, climbing and descending the steep banks of The Gorge and passing through the sweetest and sickest obstacles in the park.
Finding the trail: In Kentville, ride or drive west out of downtown, heading toward Coldbrook. Keep in mind that Main Street in Kentville is one way and that you have to follow Webster Street to a T junction with Main Street before you will be able to turn right. As you leave the downtown area, bear left and continue traveling on Park Street. You will very quickly come to a ballpark on the right, which is Kentville Memorial Park. Continue on Park Street for just a short distance before turning up the first road you come to on the left. There is a small medical facility at the corner here, and you will be able to see a walkway behind it that connects with a dirt trail coming out of the woods. This dirt trail is the one on which you will ride out at the completion of the ride. To begin the ride, continue up the paved road to an abandoned condominium development and cul-de-sac. There is space to park here, behind the buildings, if you choose to drive up to this point. You will also see a hiking sign. The ride begins up a dirt access road that continues uphill, to the left of the condo development.
Notes on the trail: From behind the abandoned condo development, follow the dirt access road up to its first fork and bear left. Almost immediately, you will pass a single-track trail entering the woods on the left. This trail is the beginning of the expert circuit and, for those interested, features a challenging drop into a deep gully from which an equally challenging trail rises up on the other side. Called the "Stadium," this spot makes an exciting vantage point from which to watch riders plummet to undignified heaps off the edge of the trail. To warm up over less rigorous terrain, continue following the wide grassy trail.
At a fork in the grassy trail, bear left. You will ride past an access trail that leads into the centre of The Gorge on your left. Continue riding along the wide, grassy, double-track trail until it veers around to the right slightly and a single-track trail branches off to the left in between some alders. Turn left onto this trail, the first stretch of single-track, which is tight and twisty, coiled between trees and rocks and areas of exposed roots. You will come to a small log pile referred to as "The Stairs" at a point where the trail turns left into the woods. There is a well-marked, barbed-wire fence along the perimeter of the trail here, which will be on your right.
Follow the trail over the log pile, and continue past another narrow trail branching off to the left. This trail is called the "Lottery" and is one of the expert trails. Keep to the main trail, which descends over some small whoop-de-doos to cross "Crazy Creek." You will drop quite steeply to cross the creek, climbing to a four-way intersection on the other side. Turn right here, following a trail that heads back uphill along the small ridge overlooking the creek. The trail straight ahead of you at this intersection is the one on which you will complete this loop, and the trail to the left, which begins with a series of palettes over the creek, is the one you will follow out of The Gorge after completing this first loop.
A short distance beyond this first climb, you will reach a potentially confusing intersection, where logs have been laid in an attempt to direct riders toward the correct trail. Bear right here. If you look to the left, you will be able to make out the trail on which you will return to this junction later in the ride. Turning right will connect you with a wider double-track trail. Cruise along this fast stretch of the ride until you come to a log across the trail. In case this landmark has been moved, you may also want to watch for a small wooden sign in a large tree on the left side of the trail. This sign has a bicycle chain adorning it. Turn left here, off the double-track trail and back onto some more technical terrain in the woods that is referred to as the "Driving Range."
The "Driving Range" is a moderate descent that crosses a big whoop-de-doo before reaching a small creek bed. The trail crosses the creek bed and then swoops uphill to the left. You will traverse a particularly rocky area, climbing gradually to a point where you can make out the double-track trail you followed into this part of the woods on your left. The trail curves around to the right here. After another view of the double-track trail on the left, you will cross another small creek bed before heading back uphill. Along this short climb, you will notice that logs have been laid on the downslope of the trail so as to prevent it from washing out. The trail then follows the stream bed downhill to the right for a short distance. You will then return to the junction where the double-track trail on which you began this loop is immediately to the left. Bear right here, heading back down toward "Crazy Creek" and the major four-way intersection.
Turn right at the four-way intersection, heading over a few wooden palettes to cross "Crazy Creek." Follow the trail as it heads up a rise on the other side of the creek and then curves around to the right. On the left side of the trail, you will pass the other end of the "Lottery." One other point of interest: an expert trail called "Alley Drive" begins here, dropping off the wooden palettes and heading down and alongside "Crazy Creek." This trail is one we fondly remember for plunging straight into the abyss of The Gorge. It is an extreme expert trail, and definitely one to save for a day when your senses are sharp and your skills are at their prime.
After crossing the creek and passing the "Lottery" on your left, you will traverse the bank that rises from "Crazy Creek." You will pass another trail branching off to the left, which is one end of an access trail that reconnects with the grassy double-track trail you followed at the beginning of the ride. Continue along the main trail, traversing the slope over a series of whoop-de-doos, until it finally curves around to the right and drops, quite steeply, back down to "Crazy Creek." Cross the creek, over another palette, and climb the other side, following the trail as it makes its way along the creek bank to the left. The trail from this point on is very easy to follow and passes through a more recently cleared area before descending and finally emerging in the small parking area of the brick medical building. To return to the parking area (where you can also re-enter The Gorge), turn left and follow the paved road back up to the condo development and the trailhead.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication