This is one of the choicest rides in Upstate NY. It's also one of the most strenuous climbs, but the view from the top is well worth the pain (and so is the ride back down). This trail is primarily a hiking trail, but it is one of the last of the DEC "Wild Forrest" areas that are still legal for Mtn Bikes to ride. This may not last for long, so check it out this summer!!!! The ride
is an immediate uphill climb right from the parking area. The first 1/4 mile is actually a good warm-up, gradual climb, but then the fun really starts!!!!! From this point, there is a short spur trail to Deer Leap, a cliff overlooking Lake George and Bolton Landing ( the Sagamore Hotel). The spur trail is about
1 mile long and it's ALL singletrack; dirt trail with roots and sections of slickrock/granite. Ride back up to the main trail and hang a left to continue towards the Mtn Top. The climb is
pretty strenuous in spots, but it's all technical slickrock and roots. At three miles into it, there is a DEC lean-to, hope you bring a camera along!!!! From here you can see all the way to Whiteface Mtn (Lake Placid), Gore Mtn (North Creek), Lake Champlain (on a clear day), and Lake George Village. From here the trail runs along the spine of the ridge, so it's pretty much rolling terrain, with a few moderate climbs and some fast descents. You'll reach the second DEC lean-to at Five-Mile Mtn. I haven't been much beyond this point on the trail, but I'm told it descends steeply down the face of the Mtn on a hiking trail where it eventually meets up with the Northwest Bay trail at the base, along the shore of Lake George. (The Northwest Bay Trail is sweet, but if you do the loop thing, you miss out on the downhill ride you just killed yourself climbing up.) Turn yourself around, and enjoy the plunge!!!!! It'll take about three hours to clmib to the Top of Five-Mile Mtn, and about 30 minutes to fly back down, assuming you don't have to slow down to avoid hikers!!!!
On a more serious note, this trail is for Upper Intermediate/Expert Riders ONLY!!!!! Do not take your girlfriend here, who has only been on the bike twice this season. If you are not in good physical condition, DO NOT BOTHER. This trail has an elevation difference from top to bottom of at least 1600 feet, in 3 miles, so don't kid yourself.
Bring alot of water and Clif Bars. VERY IMPORTANT: There have been numerous reports over the years of Timber Rattlers on Tongue Mtn, I personally have never encountered one, however, they are there, and you are at least 10 miles from the nearest town, so be prepared. Cell phones do work up here, but bring a snake venom kit along, just to be on the safe side, OK, kids???? Best chance to not encounter snakes, ride in the Spring or Fall, besides the hikers crowd this trail in the summer something fierce!!!!
I-87 north to Exit 22, then follow signs for Route 9N, north to Bolton Landing. Continue on through the village and go north approximately 8 miles. You'll see signs for the Northwest Bay Trail and DEC Boat Launch, continue on 1 mile until you see a DEC sign for "Tongue Mtn", parking area is on the left.
I experienced only a portion of the Nothwest Bay Trail (that leads to Tongue Mtn) and it was insane. Choose your route and level of commitment wisely (as thier are many options) within the Clay Meadows trail head.
I came in at the Clay Meadows trailhead (off of Route (N) and followed the blue trail for a few miles - it was epic. Some parts had to be walked but it was worth it - this is not for beginners - and the rideable parts are insane.
Recommended Route: I came in at the Clay Meadows trailhead (off of Route (N) and followed the
trail for a few hundreds yards, eventually faced with a fork to go left (and up - on the red trail - I went right (and down) on the blue trail for a few miles and it was epic. Some parts had to be walked but it was worth it - this is not for beginners - and the rideable parts are insane. Tons of exposed roors, rocks and wild downhill sections.
Stop and soak in the area - the enormity of the forest and the size of the trees adds to the grandeur of the experience.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Have not yet explored any others.
Summary: This trail is sick and you will break your rear hanger, so pack extras! I thought that it was going to semi-easy to perhaps challenging ride, however was completely shocked by this ride. I get over here baout once a month to hammer this mnt, and it kicks my ass every time. You can ride the first mnt no prob. Once you get to the cabin/leanto, you have completed the easiest part....if it was tough for you to get to here, do not go forward unless you have great downhill skills. The trail from here on in is steep, extremly rocky, jagged edges and of course, tons of rattle snakes, so use your head!
Recommended Route: Start at Deer Leap, and just start attacking the hills! I didnt care for starting at Crystal Pond as its kinda of an easier route, plus more people.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Buck, Sleeping Beauty, Prospect, Big Hollow, and Spier. All of these are tough and will demand your skills at all times. Cheers!
Summary: This trail was obviously not built with bikes in mind but it's pretty darn fun nonetheless. I rode it on a 5 and 5 all mtn. bike and had a good time but if you are man enough (or woman enough) to pedal a freeride/DH bike up it then the downhill payoff will be way better. Although it's a relatively short ride the steep technical climb makes it feel like much longer. Worth trying once...
Recommended Route: Start at the top of Tongue Mtn. and park on West side of road across from the trail head for Tongue, Deer Leap, and 5 Mile Mtn.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Garnet Hill in North River--good single track.
Summary: This trail is definately an expert level ride. Don't go there with your girlfriend to look at the lake. The climb is technical and requires some hike a bike if you ride the trail in the right direction. You are looking at 1258 feet of vertical right from the parking lot for Tongue Mt. But it is worth it, the descent back down to the Northwest Bay Trailhead parking lot is awesome and VERY technical. A full suspension free ride kind of bike is highly recommended. If you try to tackle this with a SID, chances are you will endo. Just a great combo of climbing, slickrock granite, winding singletrack, and technical downhill through rock gardens and roots. 5 out of 5 by the boys at mtbhaven.com!
Recommended Route: Park your first car at Northwest Bay trail head, then pack up everyone to go up the road to the Tongue Mt trail head. You'll park on the West side of the road, and the trail starts on the east side of Rt 9. Ride up and up, follow the blue trail markers, and then follow the signs back down to the Northwest Trail parking lot. Should be about a 2 hour ride, 14 miles or so.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Not much to compare this too. Has way more climbing than the Stables in Saratoga, and the downhill is way more fun than Palenville in the Catskills. If you don't want to pay for Gore or West, but want that kind of downhill fun, and don't mind a climb, this is it.
Summary: My comments to SMAN and Dougie-Style. . . I wrote this trail in initially 5 years ago, and I stand by my claims, best example of UpState NY singletrack. If you'd follow the directions to the northern-most trailhead on 9N in Hague, as directed in the reviews, you would have found the trail we all rave about. The southern-most trailhead along the lake is absolutely a hiking trail, and wet and unrideable 99% of the time. Even a trials rider would have difficulty clearing those roots!!! However, the other trail is the one to take, and it is all that it's made out to be. If you can't climb, and you want Albany Pinebush trails, don't waste your gas $$$ on the drive up here. If you are a DH rider, more power to ya, have fun riding the lifts at Gore and Whiteface. This is a XC trail, I never told you it was a DH race course. Sorry I forgot to mention there was no chair-lift access here. MY BAD!!!
Recommended Route: Same as initial review, read it, then print it off and take it with you, so you don't end end disgruntled like SMAN and his DH racer friend, Dougie-Style.