Friday, August 21, 2015

Luther Forest and Life Choices (July 2015)

It was 11;00PM.  Brian and I had spent two hours driving around Saratoga looking for a cheap motel with vacancy.  We finally overpaid for a couple dirty mattresses surrounded by four slabs of moldy sheetrock and a grubby plastic bathroom.

As I lay there with a belly full of potato chips, doughnuts and Four Loko, I began to doubt the wisdom of some of my recent decisions.

One weekend a year, for the last thirteen years my buddy Brian and I have met in Upstate New York to relive our childhood by camping, eating, drinking and riding bikes.  In all that time we had bailed only once- that first year when it rained so hard that Noah himself would have dropped his hammer and retreated to dry ground with a resounding "I can't deal with this shit!"

There's nothing more depressing than packing up your camping gear on a Sunday morning in a downpour- except maybe waking up in the middle of a puddle.  So this year, when the weather forecast called for inches of rain to fall on the Saturday night of our excursion, we decided to pull the plug and spend a night in a hotel.  Avoiding the rain was one of only two good decisions we made that night.  The other was to find a place to stay near Saratoga so that we could ride Luther Forest the next morning.
If you find yourself in a cheap hotel drinking these it is high time
to re-evaluate your life choices.
When we awoke on Sunday, the rain had stopped and we were in surprisingly good shape for our poor life choices the night before. We stopped at the Malta Diner for breakfast and then headed over to the nearby Luther Forest trailhead.

Luther Forest is the ying to Daniels Road's yang.  While both are located in the Capitol region, Daniels is all about technical challenge, while Luther is about flow.  Buff trails wind their way through the forest and down into small ravines.  The soil is sandy, which meant that the trails were fairly dry for the amount of rain that fell the night before.  The area, acreage wise, is  small, but the trails wind through the forest.  Though tightly packed, the trails allow you to build and hold speed.  We whisked through the forest, railing some bermed corners and shooting along the well packed singletrack.  Many of the ravines, and sections of trails look similar so it is easy to get turned around, but the system is pretty small so it is hard to stay lost for very long.

Our ride, which hit most of the trails, didn't last for more than an hour.  While the low mileage and easy terrain made for a short ride, it was an impressively enjoyable one.  So much so, that I'll be sure to make a detour on my trips through this area to ride there again.  To lengthen things a bit, you could do two laps in opposite directions.

If you're a beginner, or have a beginner in tow, this is an especially good place to come and learn about mountain biking.  The technical challenges are few and avoidable, and there are miles and miles of solid flowy singletrack.

So if you find yourself questioning your life decisions and lamenting that last can of Four Loko, just remember that there's likely a Luther Forest just around the corner.

Here's my list of ten favorite flow filled trails that might be near your corner of things:

10. Belmont Rock Meadow, Belmont, MA
9. Landlocked Forest, Burlington, MA
8. Winding Trails, Farmington, CT
7. Otis Trails, Falmouth, MA
6. Blueberry Lake, Warren, VT
5. Pine Hill Park, Rutland, VT
4. Luther Forest, Malta, NY
3. Willowdale State Forest, Ipswitch, MA
2. Kingdom Trails, East Burke, VT
1.  Santos, Ocala, FL


  1. First of all, why didn't you just text me and ask if you could stay in my 2 guest bedrooms.

    Second of all, yes, you gotta give Luther at least two laps to get a couple of hours of solid riding in, but it's awesome as a quick after work spot.

    1. I seriously considered calling. Let's add that to the list of bad decisions that evening.