Situated in the rustic haven of Decorah, Iowa, this 5-mile loop of mountain bike trails is not for the faint of heart. Deemed difficult, this network provides a myriad of technical features including twists, turns, and log piles, as well as a good share of rocks and roots. For adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers, the trail holds an irresistible allure.
From downtown Decorah, head down College Drive until you reach Quarry Street/Ice Cave Road. Continue about a mile until a four-way stop, where the parking lot can be found. The actual trailhead lies east along Ice Cave Road and is somewhat concealed, so vigilant eyes are advised. Maps are available at Decorah Bicycles on College Drive—a must-have given the challenge that lies ahead.
The route starts with an ascent on grass, quickly evolving into a dirt climb. From here, prepare for a rollercoaster of rocks and roots interspersed with technical challenges. For the fearless, Dead Pet stands as a rock-and-root labyrinth with an exhilarating creek crossing—albeit without water. The route also crosses Palisades Road multiple times; caution is strongly advised here.
Enthusiastic riders have noted a few key challenges, including unexpected downed trees caused by recent storms, making for intriguing obstacles. Initial attempts to tackle the climbs can be daunting, but the thrill of conquering them is said to be unmatched. Dead Pet stands out as an exceptionally technical trail full of rocks and roots, and many eagerly look forward to revisiting it.
While short in distance, this loop packs a punch in terms of technicality and elevation changes. With a variety of terrains and features, it's a trail system that promises to keep even the most seasoned mountain biker on their toes. The trail provides an intoxicating blend of challenge and scenic beauty, leaving riders eager for their next Decorah adventure. Grab a map, gear up, and prepare for a challenging but unforgettable ride.