Nestled near US 16 in Custer, South Dakota, the Lovers Leap Loop is a short but strenuous mountain bike trail. At a distance of just 3 miles, this loop poses a series of trials and thrills. While the course is rated as difficult, reviews suggest that the actual experience can vary, depending on external conditions.
After embarking on the trail, cyclists face an arduous ascent up to the Lovers Leap sign. It's a segment well-traveled with foot traffic and scattered with scree fields. After reaching the apex, the descent promises speed and excitement but may offer different experiences based on maintenance and recent weather conditions.
Though labeled as a difficult trail, some riders feel that the trail's current condition surpasses even that rating. Recent reviews indicate that heavy rains have washed out several areas, leaving exposed rocks that make navigation challenging. In certain spots, the trail is overgrown, predominantly with poison ivy, adding a layer of complexity and caution to the ride. The last two miles, in particular, have been reported as being a horse trail that's not maintained for cycling. It's crucial to note that these conditions can significantly impact the speed of the downhill sections, especially for flow bikers who prefer smoother terrains.
Cyclists who have ventured this trail offer contrasting opinions. Some riders found the climb tough but rewarding, with stunning views from the top. These adventurers even described the downhill section as exhilarating. However, others found the trail far less enjoyable due to the above-mentioned challenges.
The trailhead for Lovers Leap Loop is incredibly accessible, located just a couple of hundred yards from US 16. Given the trail's compact size, it's an ideal choice for riders looking for a quick but challenging expedition.
In a nutshell, Lovers Leap Loop is not for the faint of heart or those seeking a straightforward, easy ride. This trail is laden with surprises, ranging from steep climbs to potentially challenging descents. Despite its 4.5-star rating, it may disappoint riders looking for a well-maintained, intermediate level trail. Always be prepared for a rugged and possibly overgrown pathway that will test your mettle as a mountain biker.