Ever since we began mountain biking Michaux State Forest in 2006 every single ride began the same way.  From the parking lot near the furnace at Pine Grove Furnace State Park we would take Benderville Road up the mountain and turn onto the ATV trails that began at the yellow gate just past the campgrounds.  The double wide trail that took us to the top of Piney Ridge forever became known to us as "the easy button"...a 500 foot climb, spread out over 3.3 miles, to the top of the ridge.  The perfect warm up for any ride.  From there we would assess our riding options.  All that changed in 2013 when Mark Lentz and I returned to the forest to do what we do best when it's just the two of us...explore.

Our mission...to explore parts of the forest that need exploring.  Dave Raymond & Mark Lentz on Woodrow Road -- June 1, 2013

Mark Lentz and Dave Raymond exploring Michaux State Forest -- June 1, 2013

The trails that Mark and I have mapped out for ourselves in Michaux are the result of three things.  One, purposeful exploring with the mindset that sometimes our rides will result in a lot of backtracking.  This was most evident on one particular ride in August of 2013 which Mark and I refer to as our "POSTED!" ride.  Every trail we tried...every turn we took..eventually took us to posted property.  On that day we rode, and then continuously had to backtrack, 18+ miles of the forest.  Rides like these can be a fact of life in Michaux...and ultimately they provide you with the knowledge of where NOT to ride.  Secondly, we began using STRAVA's segment finder to locate trails that had been ridden by others.  It's proven to be a great tool.  Finally...sometimes we just get freakin' lucky.

Yep...it's a dynamite shack on Dynamite Shack Trail.  Dave Raymond & Mark Lentz -- August 21, 2013

Glenn would be proud...Mark using a trail map on an especially kool rock section near Ridge Road -- July 16, 2014

Riding the big rocks just south of Woodrow Road -- August 16, 20154

Dave Raymond and Mark Lentz exploring trails off of Ridge Road -- July 16, 2014

Our exploration during those two summers began to peel back more and more layers of the forest and unlock the magic that lies in Michaux.  Our rides now consisted of trails with names like TOM'S RUN & DYNAMITE SHACK.  I completely "got my nerd on" when Mark and I ventured into the remains of Camp Michaux.  We began to explore different offshoots of Ridge Road northeast from where we had always ridden...finding a lot of the super kool trails that have since become some of our favorites.  This spirit of exploration, which began in 2013, is ongoing.  The best part has been sharing it with others.  By the June of 2014, Mark and I had incorporated the best of what we had found into a "standard" ride...which we gladly rode many times that summer with Timmy, Kristain, Chris Keller, Mike Alicea, Kevin Hardy, and the Hake brothers...allowing them to experience same magic Mark and I had uncovered.  That special mountain biking magic you can only find in Michaux. 

To be continued...

The remains of Camp Michaux.  It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, served as a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II, and the was a church camp -- August 12, 2013

Left to Right//Top to Bottom: Tim Sindlinger & Dave Raymond; Mark Lentz, Kristain Hains, & Dave Raymond; Chris Keller; Dave Raymond & Mike Alicea; Mark Lentz, Nate Hake, Noah Hake, & Dave Raymond; Kevin Hardy -- All pics taken in 2014

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 13, 2016

Mark found more than ice cream at Mountain Creek Campground.  He found these super kool "old folks" sunglasses...which I guess we are just about old enough for -- July 16, 2014

GARMIN maps from a few of the rides featured: