Archive for double oak mountain

pics from morning ride

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , on May 8, 2015 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I might drop a few pics in here from this morning’s ride.  At least a couple mornings per week I get out early (anywhere between 5am to 5:30am) to get in some ride time before work….even if just 45 minutes to an hour it at least gets my day started on a positive note.  This morning’s ride consisted of some hill repeats on Double Oak Way, followed by a ride up to the cliffs and then along the ridgeline of Double Oak Mountain.

These pics are a big part of why I love living where I do so much.  From my front door in Mt Laurel I have access to some of the best road riding around, along with dozens of miles of trail/dirt riding within a mile from my house.  Double Oak Way is a steep Cat 4 climb that usually gets our day started (not just me, but Brian P and Scott L).  I can string together a nice road century or a 3-hour trail ride without ever getting in a car.

 

IMG_6047

 

IMG_6049

IMG_6050

IMG_6051

Double Oak / EBSCO trails – annotated maps

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I’ve been on somewhat of a kick lately of trying to catalog my riding routes on top of Double Oak Mountain, primarily within property owned by EBSCO.  As I’ve mentioned before on this site, EBSCO requires a permit to ride their trails and I am one of a few lucky people to have such a permit.  So….don’t say I didn’t warn you if you get caught up there without one.  Also, it should be mentioned that their trails are very secluded and could be difficult to find help should any accidents arise.

With that said, below are some annotated maps I took from Google Earth.  I imported around 7 or 8 rides from 2014 into one kmz file and then brought them into Google Earth to see how they stacked up with each other.  There are a few places where I briefly lost GPS signal, which caused some errant straight lines, but otherwise they are pretty accurate.

A brief rundown of the trail options is as follows: from Highway 41 I typically access the trails via Double Oak Way, which is a paved road going up to a cell tower on top of the mountain.  The entire road makes a Cat 3 climb, though the bottom portion can be ridden by itself for a Cat 4 climb.  From Double Oak Way, there are doubletrack trails that can be taken from 5 different points, though really only 4 of them are navigable.  Furthermore, most of these trails have multiple splits that lead to different areas.  It is possible to link up to Forest Parks, Jones Valley Urban Farm, Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail, Stonegate Farms, Hw4 43, and even the top of Hwy 25 without ever leaving the doubletrack.  Also, there are multiple trails on the opposite site of Hwy 43 that are controlled by EBSCO, many of which I still haven’t had the chance to fully explore.  The maps below show just a portion of those trails.

google earth - forest parks and old 280 and soccer blast

google earth - gate 4 to gate 7

google earth - jones valley farm and forest parks soccer

google earth - mt laurel and double oak way

google earth - other side of 43

google earth - stonegate farms and smyer lake

Google Earth overview map with no grid

Google Earth overview map

strava heat map Feb 2014 to July 2014

Saturday 08-02-14 ride report – more double oak exploring

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , on August 6, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

This past Saturday morning I set out with Brian P to do some exploring on the southeast side of Hwy 43 within the EBSCO property limits.  I have ridden up there several times in the past, but still had a few trails I had yet to try.  After leaving Mt Laurel and riding up Double Oak Way, we dropped from the top of the mountain down to Hwy 43 via EBSCO gate #4.  Then it was just a very short ride to the southwest and across the road into more property via gate #3.

The great thing about accessing the land via gate #3 is that you can either take the trail/road straight until you reach the top of the ridge, or hop onto any number of it’s little off-shoot trails (probably at least 5, and some of those likely also multiply).  I’ve gone to the top a couple of times, where the trail dead-ends and you are forced to go right (towards hwy 280) or left (towards hwy 25), and have only gone to the right a short distance.  I told Brian that I would like to go right until it eventually connects up to some other road near 280.

Upon hitting the top, we first decided to go left a short distance just to see what the trail was like.  We only went maybe a half mile or so before the trail began to nosedive downhill.  Rather than being forced to then climb back up (or hike up….it was that steep), we just decided we had seen enough and would return another day to fully explore that route.  But we passed at least 2 other trail off-shoots in the short distance we rode, which tells me there is some good exploring to do up there when I have more time.

After turning around we stayed along the ridgeline going towards hwy 280, eventually surpassing a point where I had never been before.  The trail was great up here – just smooth doubletrack with little rolling hills.  We naturally assumed that this trail would eventually lead us back to some form of civilization.  We eventually reached the end of the doubletrack and there was a little needle-head shaped turnaround point, but the trail then became grassy singletrack leading deeper into the woods.

Staying on the singletrack, we took a lot of spider shots to the face as we were in prime spider web country.  None seemed too large though, so we kept on trekking.  After a while the singletrack just sort of stopped.  We couldn’t tell if it had simply gotten grown over, or had actually reached its terminus point.  Not wanting to believe it had ended, and still holding out hope we could find our way to 280, we started basically just bushwhacking and riding through the woods.  We pulled up our position on our phones’ satellite maps and could see that we were right above the Forest Lakes neighborhood.  So we kept going, until it just made no more sense to continue any further as we had officially gone about as far as possible with the forest getting denser and denser.  We reluctantly would backtrack all the way back to the main doubletrack trail….a lot of wasted time.

Once back on the doubletrack, we found a trail off-shoot that went downhill in the direction of Forest Lakes.  We figured “no problem”, it will bring us down to Forest Lakes where we can have an opportunity to get onto some pavement.  Having never been inside of Forest Lakes, I was sorely disappointed to find that it was a continuous wall of houses backing up to the mountain, all with fences in their backyard that prevented any sort of passage opportunity for us.  We ended up exposed on the hillside trying to scout for locations to cut through.  After lots of time and some more guidance by our phone maps, we were able to locate on the satellite imagery a house at a cul de sac that appeared to have no fence in the backyard.  We hacked our way through some really dense pine forest to eventually find that house, along with a ton of neighboring dogs.  After we decided the opportunity was as clear as it was ever going to get, we made a run for it through someone’s backyard, sideyard, and eventually driveway to haul butt onto some pavement.  All told, we probably spent almost an hour that morning just getting lost and/or hacking our way through the woods.

By now we had been riding for around 2 hours but had barely gone 13 miles.  A quick steep climb up through the backside of the bottom of Forest Parks on the opposite side of Hwy 43 and we were back on top of our original Double Oak ridge.  We capped off the ride with a fun downhill into the Jones Valley Urban Farm property and then onto Hwy 41 where we could finally get some easy spinning done on the way home.

I told Brian as we pulled into Mt Laurel that I didn’t know if I should say this was a good ride or an awful ride.  He responded that at least it was a fun ride.  I think I can agree with that.

No pics today, but the strava data can be found here.  Basically just 19 miles but with well over 2600 feet of climbing.  I still plan to do a post soon with some detailed ride maps for the area, so I will be sure to note some of the sections of this ride on those maps.

double oak property

Posted in ride reports with tags , , on July 30, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I’m trying to sort through a bunch of my ride data to build a comprehensive map of the trails along Double Oak Mountain, most of which are on EBSCO property.  Until I can finish going through everything, the strava heat map with notes added below is a good start for anyone interested in seeing what’s up there.

strava heat map Feb 2014 to July 2014

February 1st Ride Report – exploring with BP

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , on February 5, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Last Friday I put out some text messages to Brian, Travis, Chad, Kyle, and David to let them know it was time for a ride in the woods above Mt Laurel.  All but Brian had to decline, so the two of us found ourselves in the midst of a fun ride.

I was able to duck out before BP, so I did some hill repeats and general base mile riding along the ridge until such time that he could meet me up there….probably got in 9 or so miles before he arrived.  Once he got to the top of the ridge, we headed across the paved Double Oak Way ridgeline road and then onto the doubletrack that leads to the powerline crossings closest to Hwy 41 (as opposed to the crossings closer to Hwy 43).  By the time we reached the first powerline crossing I didn’t have a ton of time left before I needed to return home, so going all the way to Hwy 25 and then back to Mt Laurel via Hwy 41 was out of the question.  But, I recalled seeing a trail spur a few times in the past and had always wondered where it led.

Not being a solo rider this time, and therefore a little more willing to do some backwoods trail exploring, I was able to locate the trail in question and off we went.  The first section was pretty rocky, but certainly rideable.  In fact, if the leaf cover had been lighter (like in the Spring or Summer), the baby-head rocks would have been more visible and easier to navigate.  Then the trail somewhat leveled out and became some really sweet, smooth singletrack, eventually backtracking below the powerlines 140 feet below where we first crossed them.

After some good smooth riding, we started hitting a few sections that were quite steep and rocky, forcing us to hike-a-bike a few short distances.  Had there not been so much leaf cover making the trail too slippery for braking, most of those sections would have been rideable.  Eventually we hit a fork in the trail and opted to head left, hoping this would take us in the direction of Stonegate Farms (we had been tracking our progress on a gps map).  After some more riding, and another decision to make on which trail to take, we ended up at the very last cul de sac in Stonegate Farms.  I had been on a short section of that trail at least six months prior on my CX bike, but on that day I turned around early and had no idea that it could have taken me to the top of the mountain.

Ride stats from Strava can be found here.  Some pics are below.  Around 23 miles and 2200 feet of climbing.

on double oak way

on double oak way

on double oak way

on double oak way

double oak way

double oak way

view towards childersburg

view towards childersburg

view towards childersburg

view towards childersburg

waiting on brian

waiting on brian

brian riding on bob hood branch trail

brian riding on bob hood branch trail

view towards leeds from first powerline crossing

view towards leeds from first powerline crossing

another view from powerline crossing

another view from powerline crossing

sweet singletrack

sweet singletrack

more nice trail

more nice trail

taking a break to study our maps

taking a break to study our maps

more good trail, this time heading somewhere back up the mountain

more good trail, this time heading somewhere back up the mountain

on new trail

on new trail

on new trail

on new trail

view from vantage point on new trail

view from vantage point on new trail

some rather large boulders up there

some rather large boulders up there

on highway 41 heading back home - almost looked like big sky country

on highway 41 heading back home – almost looked like big sky country

enlarged map where we took new trail

enlarged map where we took new trail

overall ride map

overall ride map

 

ride reports – January 4th and January 12th

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Been pretty quiet on this blog since I crashed and injured my shoulder and elbow in November, so here goes a quick rundown of two recent rides.

On January 4th I had planned to get up in the early morning and ride in what I would call very cold weather (30s), but the sleepy monster took control and I decided to sleep in.  However, I was able to duck out later in the day for a quick spin on the mountain bike.  I did one of my usual Ebsco routes, where I head up Double Oak Way to enter the Ebsco property and then head to the northeast towards the power line crossings.

I had passed some hunters on the way up there talking on the side of the road, so I knew I had to be careful to not get shot by accident.  After hitting the ridge split and taking a right, I only rode for a short distance before turning around….basically I know where the deer stands are and don’t need to get too close.  After turning around I encountered one of the hunters, who was on his way out to a stand.  Unlike other such encounters I’ve had up there, this one was very friendly.  He pretty much just wanted to make sure I knew to be safe and to keep an eye out for anyone else up there.  Nevertheless, it was still somewhat cold and I was ready to head for home anyway.

Strava ride data can be found here.  Basically just 11 miles with 1200 feet of climbing.  And some of the slowest segment times I have had in two years…..the layoff due to injuries, coupled with the holidays, just really has taken my fitness down a few notches.

brisk day

brisk day

typical trails

typical trails – this one is a steep muddy climb on the bob hood branch trail

more trail

more trail

still some ice on the trail

still some ice on the trail

gate to top of double oak way - luckily i hold a permit

gate to top of double oak way – luckily i hold a permit

getting ready to turn back into mt laurel

getting ready to turn back into mt laurel

yep.  too cold for me.

yep. too cold for me.

 

The following weekend I was able to force myself out for another ride.  My original plan had been to ride on Saturday, but I opted to ride around the neighborhood with the kids instead.  So, with absolutely beautiful weather on Sunday, I decided to……sit on the couch.  For too long.  I had to really force myself to not be so tired (late night at a wedding reception) and get out and do something.  I had sent separate text messages to Brian, Kyle, Travis, Chad, and David to see if anyone wanted to join me….hoping some company would get me motivated.  After reluctantly getting up and putting on my tight-fitting bib and jersey kit, and noticing that I was now 5-1/2 months pregnant, I realized I made the right decision by opting for exercise in lieu of the couch.

Once again I found myself on familiar territory up on the Ebsco property.  This time I climbed all the way to the radio tower, then took a trail back to the main Bob Hood Branch trail.  Instead of going to the right at the ridge split like I had done the previous weekend, I went left.  But, I only went as far as it took to crest the steep hill (probably need to make it a strava segment) and then turned around.  My goal was to get in around 20 miles today, but not all of it on Ebsco’s trails.

Once turned around and taking a photo break on a section of gravel trail, I noticed someone on the pavement up ahead around 1/4 of a mile.  Then another biker quickly followed.  Figuring it was someone I knew, I hopped back on my bike and booked it to the end of the trail and onto the pavement.  By the time I reached the pavement, they were already well on their way up the second leg of the Double Oak rollercoaster.  Somehow I managed to just about catch up to them by the top of the climb and gave a little “hoot hoot” holler to let them know I was on my way up.  Once at the top I discovered I didn’t know these two folks, but they were a really nice father and son who had ridden their road bikes from Vestavia Hills specifically to take on the Double Oak Way climbs.

I let them go ahead while I chugged some water and then followed them back out towards Hwy 41, eventally catching back up to them at the gate.  After trailing them tightly along Hwy 41 for a few miles, they finally proved too fast for me with my mountain bike and off they went on their long way home.

I continued on past Shoal Creek and into Stonegate Farms, where my plan was to ride some singletrack that I had seen during road rides at the very last cul-de-sac (roughly 3 miles into the neighborhood).  However, once I reached the trail I found out that it has since been closed off with chain link fencing.  I might have hopped the fence or found a way around, but some of the residents were talking in the street just a short distance away keeping an eye on me as I rode towards the trail.  So, with no trail time at Stonegate Farms I simply turned around and rode the remaining +/- 6 miles home.  Strava data can be found here.  22 miles with 1800 feet of climbing.

IMG_3258

sun was already drawing low in the sky by the time i hit the top of the ridge

IMG_3260

looking through the trees towards village and highland lakes (houses in front) and greystone (along the ridge)

radio tower at top of double oak way

radio tower at top of double oak way

typical trail - in this case leading from radio tower to bob hood branch trail

typical trail – in this case leading from radio tower to bob hood branch trail

leads back up to radio tower

leads back up to radio tower

leads down to gate #5 on hwy 43

leads down to gate #5 on hwy 43

recent evidence of horses on the trail

recent evidence of horses on the trail

after losing contact with the two road bikers

after losing contact with the two road bikers

full moon peeking out in the late afternoon above stonegate farms

full moon peeking out in the late afternoon above stonegate farms

stonegate farms

stonegate farms

home in time to ride with lissy

home in time to ride with lissy

ride report – 11.03.2013 — EBSCO property

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

After a couple of early morning pavement/gravel/dirt rides to dial in the geometry on my new Stumpjumper, along with a counter-clockwise ride of the old loop at Oak Mtn State Park, I had a couple hours to spend on Sunday afternoon getting to properly test out my new bike on the hills above Mt Laurel.

After leaving my house, it was down Hwy 41 to the steep uphill road of Double Oak Way….i.e. my usual way of getting to the top of the mountain when I don’t want to deal with the hike-a-bike from the lake at Mt Laurel.  After cresting the hill on Double Oak Way where it takes a 90-degree turn to the left and becomes fairly flat, I continued on for a short distance to simply keep warming up.  Then I opted to hop on the singletrack that is alongside the paved road (the trail was put in by motobikers), but that was very quickly short lived since my drivetrain immediately got clogged up with fallen leaves and a small twig.

Back on the pavement, I headed southwest on Double Oak Way (towards the way I came) and then continued straight onto the jeep road after Double Oak Way turned hard right to go downhill to Hwy 41.  It had been a few years since I took this road all the way down to Hwy 43, so my plan was to stay on it until Hwy 43 and then turn around for a good uphill.  With all of the recent leaf-shedding by all of the hardwoods, the leaves really made things slippery going downhill and I almost lost control on more than one occasion.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t too muddy and generally was a fun ride down.

Hitting Hwy 43 (which is at EBSCO gate #1), I rode northeast on the pavement until reaching EBSCO gate #2 on the opposite side of 43.  Having explored back here a few times on my mountain bike in the past, I knew it has miles upon miles of jeep road options to ride on.  I opted to simply head uphill for a bit and then backtrack until reaching Hwy 43 again, albeit about a half mile to the northeast (at gate #3).  Then it was back on some pavement until I got back to gate #1.

Once at gate #1, my plan was to simply go back the way I came, which would have been a decent climb of around 1.5 miles and over 600 feet of elevation change (topo change, not cumulative gain).  I got to a fork in the road and inadvertently took a right when I should have stayed left.  So, I instead ended up with a climb of around 3 miles and close to 800 feet of elevation change.  Plus, I had absolutely no clue where I was.  For quite a while I actually thought I was much further to the southwest because I had skipped another right turn and stayed left, not recalling staying right at the very first turn.  When it eventually dumped me out at the bottom of the Double Oak Rollercoaster I was very surprised.

At that point, I had only ridden a little over 10 miles and wanted to put in some more time on my bike while I had the rare window of opportunity without other obligations standing in the way.  So, I once again headed back to the southwest on Double Oak Way, and once again stayed straight onto the dirt once the pavement turned downhill towards Hwy 41.  But instead of continuing all the way to Hwy 43 again, I took the jeep road spur that leads to Forest Parks.  [One of the great things about this dirt road system is that you can access Forest Parks/280, Jones Valley Urban Farm/41, Hwy 43, and even Hwy 25].  This fun section of fire road eventually ended at the top soccer field at the Forest Parks soccer complex.  [Another side note, Forest Parks has a fun, albeit fairly short, trail that I have taken a few times on my way through there….not this time though].  Next I would simply cut through the neighborhood to pick up Hwy 280 at Essex Road.

Hwy 280 was unusually busy for a Sunday afternoon, so I road on the narrow sliver of gravel on the shoulder until I reached Soccer Blast.  Once at Soccer Blast, I hopped on the Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail.  This trail is great for trail running, and so-so for trail riding.  Most of it is actually very fun to ride, but a few portions near the middle are permeated with rock gardens that require you to dismount a few times (at least this time of year with the slippery leaf cover).  It was at one such rock garden that I came upon a group of hikers and one of them had twisted her ankle pretty badly.  The trail was very narrow and it was going to be slow going getting around their group, so I ended up just chilling by the creek for five minutes or so to give them some time to get out in front of me.  I eventually caught them again, but by that time I was almost to the trailhead parking lot and could ride around their group.  By the time I reached the trailhead my phone was buzzing with a text message asking when I would be home (my wife had plans with some friends) so I made a beeline along Hwy 41 back to the hood.

Final ride stats were around 20 miles with 2500 feet of climbing.  Strava link can be found here.  Random photos below.

IMG_2732

on Double Oak Way

IMG_2733

trail next to Double Oak Way

IMG_2734

fire roads on opposite side of Hwy 43

IMG_2735

fire roads on opposite side of Hwy 43

IMG_2736

EBSCO gate #2

IMG_2737

EBSCO gate #1 – heads uphill to Double Oak Way

IMG_2738

very steep section of doubletrack

IMG_2739

at top of Double Oak Rollercoaster – looking towards descent to bottom

IMG_2740

Forest Parks soccer field complex

IMG_2742

Forest Parks soccer field complex

IMG_2743

creek along Dunnvant Valley Greenway Trail

IMG_2744

Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail

IMG_2745

Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail