This route is a nice loop in the higher elevations of the Blueberry Hill Trails network. It begins with vehicle parking or cycling the road up to the Wreath Trail (#22) junction with Bronson Way and Lower Ridge Trail (#19). From here the ride starts with the hillclimb on the upper end of Bronson Way, to the junction with the Upper Ridge Trail (#19) and the Cabin Trail (#21). Joel's Trail begins at this junction as well, although for this loop, the rider continues on Bronson Way another 100 yards, until an orange ribbon is visible in the woods to the right. This flag indicates the second turn on Joel's Trail, and one can enter here and begin the climb to the top.
From here, the trail goes back in much the same way as it does in the beginning leg, if you started at the official trailhead near the Memorial bench. It switches back again at the third turn, and comes back toward the road again, all the while climbing along a technical track that is strewn with obstacles; roots, rocks, trees, dips and swales, it is a demanding pedal. Catching a well-placed tree every now and then is helpful for a quick rest. As the trail climbs now, the legs between turns get more spaced, and after the fifth turn, the trail descends slightly as it drops off the slope to the bottom of the drainage, crossing a small wooden bridge after a quick steep descent.
Now the trail climbs again, past the sixth and seventh turns, until a very large cairn is reached, in my notes I called it the Great Cairn, and the eighth turn is just after that. The forest is wonderful here, it is a grand couloir, with a prominent drainage gully, and some very large fallen trees, one of which has been cut, to allow passage as the trail crosses the drainage again and heads for the summit dome.
Up out of the drainage gully now, the trail steepens as it approaches the final approach to the summit. The ninth turn is on the side of the summit cone and it veers 'behind' the summit one last time. The tenth and final turn is reached as the sky and horizon start to reveal themselves. Soon the summit rock looms ahead and with one last little hill and a few good pedal strokes, you emerge onto the summit rock itself, where you are rewarded with the best view, by far, in this entire trail system.
Lake Champlain is visible to the East, the Boquet River valley to the South, Route 9N cuts to the West in between Giant Mt. & Hurricane Mt. The view North is obstructed at this spot, the physical hill offers other lookout points, there are no other additional summit trails for bike, but there are slight herd paths where others have explored before.
The ride down is very exciting; fast, fun, challenging. Lasts for a long time as the descent is long and technical. Passing all ten turns on the way back down, the finish to this loop is a bit of a cool down as you exit Joel's Trail, making a left turn and continuing down the Cabin Trail following yellow markers. Once you pass the Cabin, look for the Drop Trail section on the right, marked by a small cairn and a yellow marker. This is a fast steep, technical descent very similar to what was just encountered above on Joel's. It ends quickly down on the Wreath Trail, where you go right and follow this back to the starting point, and if you parked there, your vehicle.
Local Trail AssociationBarkeater Trails Alliance (www.betatrails.org)
Trails in Route
AKAHarwood Trail, Trail #31
Difficulty ratingBlack Diamond
More Stats for Upper Blueberry Loop mountain bike route
Altitude min1,224 ft
Altitude start1,227 ft
Altitude end1,227 ft
Distance climb2 miles
Distance down1 miles
Distance flat2,607 ft
- Snow Packed
- Snow Covered
- Freeze/thaw Cycle
- Prevalent Mud
- Very Dry