Pittstown State Forest is located northeast of Albany and Troy, New York and the I-87 corridor. While its 12 miles of trail hardly make it a destination-worthy mountain bike spot, it’s a great place to ride and camp if you’re passing through the area.
The 12 miles of trail are located within Pittstown State Forest, which is managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Saratoga Mountain Bike Association has an agreement with the DEC to build and maintain the trails in the system. Some of the existing trails have been in place (not MTB-specific) since the 70’s or 80’s, while others have been built since 2009 by SMBA.
The trails are a mix of moderately technical, littered with rooty descents and a mix of small, sharp rocks and large slabs. There are a number of alt-lines using some of these larger rock formations, resulting in fun play spots for more experienced riders. A forest road curves around the trail system, offering an easier option to gain some elevation. There isn’t a ton of elevation gain overall, but there are a few punchy climbs to get the heart going and the trail system is by no means flat.
One of the newest trails, Zig-Zag, is also the most fun, featuring both larger rock formations and flowy bits. It’s also the longest individual trail at 3 miles, and it winds across the top of a knob and then slowly traverses down to the lower parking lot.
One of the best things about these trails as a “passing through” type stop is the free primitive camping in the State Forest, which my coworker Trina and I utilized both on our way to and from the Kingdom Trails in Vermont.
Another great thing about these trails is that there are plans in the works for more! The Saratoga Mountain Bike Association has partnered with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, which just bought 1000 acres directly adjacent to Pittstown State Forest. Eventually, SMBA would like to build another 12 or so miles of trail on that property, which borders Grafton Lakes State Park, which currently offers over 20 miles of trail. Someday, the hope is to have over 40 miles of interconnected singletrack in the area.
If you’re in the Albany area, definitely check out Pittstown State Forest. You can find out more about the organization that maintains them and other trails in the area, or contact a local at saratogamtb.org.