The rides we do around Tallahassee generally follow one of three directions, North, East, or South of town. All can be done as "door to door" rides, no shuttle required, and each direction offers distinct pleasure to pain opportunities. Here, I'll sketch it out for you...
North- After some breakneck commuting maneuvers, you find yourself at the entrance to the Live Oak Connector, a rough and gnarly singletrack
that crosses a deep ravine. Numerous log-overs and some steeps make this 2 mile urban trail a challenge. A quick jog up to Timberlane Road and you are on your way to Lake Overstreet via the Computer Tutors trail. From here on out, it is fast red clay, with some of the most flowing singletrack in town. Lake Jackson (mostly dry now) offers more wandering miles, and the oft-ignored Redbug trail presents a rooty smackdown option late in the ride.
Round trip: 16-25 miles depending on your choice of linkage.
East- It all starts and ends on the Fern Trail going east. From my house it is about 5 miles to this grand dame of a trail that snakes through urban commercial district and some neighborhoods. Used mostly as a "getting somewhere" trail, it doesn't get it's due as a destination trail, but believe me it is fun. Also in the area is the Pine Beetle, or Albertson's trail. This path leads to Tom Brown Park, where most sanctioned mtb events take place. The terrain is steep and rugged by local comparisons and the line is difficult to follow. Numerous options and washed out areas guarantee group separation, but it all spills out in the same place. It is called the Magnolia Trail, but I have never, ever heard any rider use it's proper name.
From here there are great options, singletrack it on the Cadillac trail for tight, technical singletrack on hard pack dirt, or blast out the multi-use Lafayette Heritage Trail to get somewhere fast. On big ride days we take it across the tracks to the Pedrick Greenway trails (Coup de Ville trail) and cross a housing development to the Miccosukee Greenway trails. At this point mileage is moot so we usually go to the magical, peaceful Miccosukee Land Co-op for a tour of the enlightened.
Round Trip mileage: 35-50 depending on route selection.
South- Depart through Frenchtown, the historically black neighborhoods, and cross two major Universities (Go 'Noles, Strike 'em Rattlers!) and pick up the Rails to Trails project, the St. Marks Trail to teleport directly to the National Forest. Paper Cup trail and Granddaddy Munson await as well as some newly developed trails that are almost ready for public consumption. If you are angry with yourself and need to be punished, then you go deep into the sandy heart of the forest where cold water sinkholes are hiding, as well as some fairly ungroomed terrain, but that is another post.
Round trip mileage: 18-25 depending on route selection.
West- West lies the forest again, the airport, and the Cascade lakes region. Plenty of riding can be found this way, but no "designated mtb trail" so I'm skipping it.
So, as training for the Monster Loop, I think it is time to start tackling two out of three of these options on occasion. South, then North. North, then East, it doesn't matter.
Choose your own adventure!