IMBA EPIC Ride - Ellicottville Loop, New York

Ellicottville Loop, New York


This loop uses several of the trails within the extensive Ellicottville trail system located primarily within the McCarty Hill and Rock City state forests.

There are some great views from the ski areas near the start and finish of the ride.

Starting in 2015, the loop has been modified as NYSDEC (the land manager) has elected to use parallel trails for the section where this EPIC uses the North Country Trail. It's best to stay off this trail in early spring or after heavy rains to help protect and conserve it.


Ellicottville is primarily singletrack, built and maintained by WNYMBA. There's about 3,000 feet of climbing along this loop, providing challenging ascents following by flowy descents.

Although only about 29 miles, it will tax even the most fit with a significant amount of climbing and rocky trail surface. Many, but not all, sections feature a rocky tread - not enough to interrupt the flow but enough to add challenge. At the south end of the loop are large sections of bedrock breaking off from a plateau creating a bit of a "rock city".


Because this loop uses several trail segments, it's best to download the map ahead of time. The trails are moderately well marked but require some attention to follow.

More details

The ride starts from the Eagle Trail, one of the area's favorite trails, with a short dirt road section, but quickly heads left onto singletrack. After a short section, the trail gets very steep, but don't worry, this too is short. Overall, this climb is 5% bottom to top, with sustained portions of 10% in the middle, very doable (and fun on the way back).

Near the top, take a left onto Mesa Trail for a beautiful loop with great views, bringing you back to Eagle Trail just past the point where you left it. At the end of Eagle Trail, take a right onto Rain Trail and follow this to the parking spot on east McCarty Hill. Take the rooty connector over to Holiday Valley and follow part of the Holiday Valley Race Loop over to the top of Tannenbaum lift, and then slightly beyond that through the spruce to the communication tower on Mutton Hollow Road.

Starting in 2015, the route now follows the new Black Trail, which was built to replace the newly closed-to-bikes white trail. The black trail heads south through challenging rock gardens. You cross the CCC road and after a short singletrack descent, head right for 100 yards or so on an old logging road until you hit the first of the "pale ale trails". Go right on South Pale Ale, cross the road and do Middle Pale Ale, with its challenging rock sections.

When it exits onto Hungry Hollow Road, head uphill to the saddle and then turn left on Rock City Road (all road sections on this ride are dirt forestry roads). Once you re-enter state land, hang a right onto the popular Rim Trail - nearly two miles of level (unusual for this loop!) flowy trail. Once you cross Eckert Road, you are now on its extension - Bent Rim Trail and, as you might guess by its name, is rocky.

Once Bent Rim spits you out onto Salamanca Forest Road, head right briefly until you find a road on your left. Take that road until it ends, becoming singletrack. This is Four Rocks Trail, a scenic and challenging trail that brings you to Little Rock City.

Although you can't ride on the path through the main large rocks, you probably want to stop at the cul de sac and look over the top of the ledges of these rocks. Quite the site. When you've had your fill, head up the road briefly until you take a right onto what used to be the North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail. Cyclists retained access to this section, so enjoy it as it dives between two large rocks and then heads left on a nice flowy (but sometimes technical) surfing of the contour.

After a couple of miles you veer onto the Tornado Bypass, constructed to bypass a swathe of forest leveled by a tornado in 2009. This bypass takes you to South Pale Ale for some great flowy contour surfing again. When you hit the road, ride a short road section downhill to the first left then back up to do South Pale Ale again, the other way. This, plus the retreating up the log road to the left at its end is the only section of trail you repeat.

Next, you'll take a right on the ridiculously fun Rocky's Run which takes you all the way to the long fun section of Buzzards Breath and Mutton Hollow Trail. This segways into Yukon's Lunch and finally to Porcupine. Porcupine takes you across Mutton Hollow Road and up to Big Merlin (a right at the junction). Take Big Merlin all the way around the spur, eventually taking in Dead Dog Loop and Sidewinder, bringing you back to the top of Eagle Trail which provides a fun way to end this ride on a nice downhill note.

Some of the information on this page is sourced from:

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43.262 km / 26.882 mi

Total Distance

1,072 m / 3,516 ft

Total Ascent

1,058 m / 3,471 ft

Total Descent

736 m / 2,413 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
Ride Duration: 1/2 day
Fitness Level: Ultra Fit
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Gravel Road
Mobile Coverage: Limited
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle
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