The Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve, or Moosic Mountain, as it’s better known to mountain bikers, is a unique yet little-known gem of a trail system in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is located in Jessup, just outside of Scranton, and is one of the area’s many riding spots that include the Lackawanna State Park, Prompton Dam, and Merli-Sarnoski. Having ridden all of the above, I’d have to say that Moosic is by far my favorite. During my time living in Binghamton, NY, I’d try to make the hour and a half trek to Moosic on a weekly basis, heading out straight from work and often finishing my ride in the total dark. It’s been over a year since I’ve ridden Moosic now and I decided it was time to refresh my memory, along with showing Chris some amazing new singletrack.
Moosic Mountain Trails
The original Moosic trails were comprised of a raw and demanding 8 mile loop with smaller loops that come off and join back into the main one. These days there are a number of trails that make it possible to put together different size loops, depending on how much you wanna ride. We were able to hit pretty much every trail and ended up just shy of 19 miles for the day. Navigating here is very easy and if you have a map, getting lost is not an easy task.
We started the day off with one of my favorite trails here – Blueberry. We hit it as an out and back trail, climbing it first, then descending. Blueberry is an easier trail from a technical point of view and with its gradual down grade, takes a lot of fitness to get the best out of. It winds its way down through a narrow ribbon of dirt, dry loam and of course, it wouldn’t be PA singletrack without the awkward rock outcroppings sticking out of the ground. Surrounded by short shrubs, like a lot of the other trails at Moosic, this one is all turns and reminded Chris of the Hazard County trail in Moab, UT. A further reminder of that trail is just how windy it can get on Blueberry with sparse tree coverage.
Conglomerate and Stonehenge are some of the oldest trails here and were part of the original loop. These trails are the ones that make me wonder why I love this place so much. Between dispersed sharp embedded rocks and large flat slabs, it’s truly a full body workout trying to muscle the bike between awkward sections of trail. A split second hesitation can mean having to walk a whole section or going over the bars into hard rock. It takes considerable skill and finesse to ride these trails fast.
The newest trail here is After Five, and starts off from The View loop and finishes at the O’Conner Reservoir – cutting out a substantial amount of riding, if you are looking for a smaller loop. A mix of tough rock sections, challenging corners, and faster speed, this trail seems to have it all. It is also one of the most picturesque ones at Moosic. Every so often you hear a loud rustling in the bushes and soon realize that it’s birds, not land dwelling creatures that fly in and out of the low vegetation.
The Waterfall Loop is a bit different from the rest and takes you into the forest. It’s darker and cooler here, with less rock but a lot more slippery roots. Here you’ll find faster speed and more flow. This loop is also the most susceptible to water damage so use your best judgment after heavy rains. After getting out of the forest, you are greeted with awesome slick rock riding with an overview of the surrounding towns in the distance. This is the trail that reminds me exactly of why I love this place. Shrubs and small trees dominate the landscape. The smell of stunted pines permeates the air and sticks with you long after the ride through the Bog trail, which eventually takes you down to the O’Conner Reservoir. The Reservoir is the lowest spot in the park and a great place to hang back, grab a snack and check out the old dam, the clear water, or the frogs that inhabit it, all before starting the big climb back to the trailhead.
The climb back takes you up Fern Hill, which these days is more shrub than fern, and into Gene’s Trail, that doesn’t let up on the technicality. The last decision you’ll have to make is whether to take the steady fire road or the winding Bruised Ego singletrack back to the car and either way, I can guarantee that you’ll be sufficiently tired and satisfied with the effort you put in.
Finding places like Moosic fascinates me because it’s so different from everything I’m used to seeing in the Northeast. Every time I ride it, I feel like I’ve been transported to a land far far away and every time, it’s an adventure. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this place even though the drive is even longer now. This one’s truly a hidden treasure.