Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pinnacle Mountain Jackfork Trail

I'm glad that I decided to ride my mountain bike Saturday, because I awoke to wet streets, blustery wind and a serious chill. It was still 80 degrees when I got on the bike Friday evening, but only 51 when I hit the trail at the very reasonable hour of 10:00AM on Saturday. I was meeting friends Chris Shaw and Chris Irons to check out the new Jackfork Trail from the Pinnacle Mountain State Park Visitor's Center. The trail is about what you would expect if you were a reasonable person envisioning a new trail etched out of a Ouachita foothill. It was rocky. The route is a lollypop with the first mile of trail leading into a 5 mile loop. I'd describe it as technical, but there were few really hard moves. It was mostly a case of just riding a lot of rocky trail with what seemed like more climbing than descending and it seemed difficult to get into any kind of rhythm. It required some heart-thumping effort and your full attention, but there were no big obstacles to be dealt with.

Fun with signs....

Decisions, decisions....    Chris Shaw may be a hard man, but Chris Irons is apparently harder. This sign is where the stick meets the sucker on this lollypop shaped route. We road the "HARD" way. It's the same route and we decided the main difference to the approaches is that the "HARDER" direction starts with a stiff climb whereas the "HARD" way just puts little climbs in front of you for much of the 5-mile loop.
So much for that "HARD" and "HARDER" stuff. I'm just here to get my trail groove on.

...and fun with rocks.

This was a tight little uphill turn that defeated all of us. Even with the tree boost, Chris ended up dismounting. I felt like I could have cleaned it if my approach speed had exceeded 3MPH, but that's about all I could muster after the climb leading to this little challenge.

For the most part, the trail snakes past the bigger rocks. It's all of the smaller ones that make up much of the trail bed which required attention. There is little chance of this trail getting too muddy to ride. It's got a rock-solid bottom and not many places flat enough for standing water.

This new trail has received mixed reviews, ranging from "very cool" to "really sucks". I think it's just a matter of perspective. I give it pretty high marks for being challenging without being daunting and for being a good place to improve trail skills without really harsh penalties for failure. On the other hand, if you just want to turn up the IPod and blast down some flowing hard-pack, this may not be your favorite place. For sake of comparison, it is more like Burns Park than Camp Robinson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very accurate write up of this trail. it does lack in the fun-flowy factor but is pretty solid for honing skillz. i'd love to see a time trail race there...