The Carp River Loop – Yellow
The Carp River Loop is undergoing a transformation from one of the original trails in the network to one of the newest and best.
The loop, which crosses the Carp River on a seasonal bridge has a history as a mostly 2 track trail, connected where needed by short sections of singletrack.
That all began to change though several years ago when the first section of the Gorge-ous trail was built. The original trail which dropped down onto the hillside above the Carp River gave hikers and bikers a breath taking view of the river and its small rapids along with the gorge it flows through. That first section of trail has been extended both at the beginning and the end creating one of the most scenic trails in the network.
The trail begins out the back of the 553 trailhead on the joint Gorgeous/Grom entrance. It climbs gently up some easy switchbacks to the point where it crosses the Mt. Marquette access road. It continues fairly flat with some fun rollers until it crosses the old ‘jeep trail’ (which was formerly a major part of this loop. Shortly after crossing the jeep trail the trail splits with the Gorge-ous trail and the Carp River (Yellow) Loop taking the right handfork. (point 17 on the map below) The trail gets more difficult here, narrower and with a drop off. A tight hairpin turn leads into a fast descending section which ends with a bermed turn banking the trail back parallel to the river. A short climb and the rider is ‘in the gorge’ riding on a beautiful benchcut singletrack above the river. The views are worth stopping for.
The trail continues tight and moderately technical until you reach the old trail junction where the trail previously entered the gorge. Continuing to the right takes you on the newer ‘G-2’ section of Gorgeous which is more technical but just as scenic as the original. This section is narrower and has slightly more exposure. It has trail features of interest including several rock cairns, ‘Dead Man’s Corner’ and ‘Hello Buddy’.
There are several thrilling downhills and tight switchback to negotiate before the trail reaches the banks of the carp river which it follows to the next trail junction. Here the rider will either cross to the far side of the Carp River or return to the trailhead by another route (probably the Blue Loop).
The Carp River loop crosses its namesake and here enters the older trail. (point 18 on map) The trail climbs up a two track out of the river valley and steadily climbs gaining significant elevation until reaching the back side of Marquette Mountain. (point 19 on map) From here options of continuing straight on the two track will take you into unmarked woods. Turning right will take the rider to the ski hill where there are a number of trail options for return to the trailhead starting point. Marquette Mountain Ski area is open to non-motorized trail users, but it is not a part of the NTN network. The trails are not well marked (but they all go eventually downhill and back to the highway and thus the trailhead) and may not be maintained the same standards as the official trails in the network.
The NTN has plans to significantly expand the Carp River Loop including replacing all the two track on the south side of the Carp River with singletrack and extending the trail AROUND Marquette Mountain, crossing Highway 553 south of the trail head and eventually returning from upstream on the Carp River. These improvements are planned for launch in the next 3-5 years.