Whenever one has committed to a weekend road trip out of town, the motivation to maximize the time away from work and chores is at an all-time high. As we pointed ourselves eastward on the Pennsylvania Turnpike towards Philadelphia on a Friday morning, we started to wonder: Where could we ride instead of sitting eyeballs-deep in traffic? After scanning the map and calculating drive times, we settled on the small town of Fair Hill, MD. Located just minutes outside Newark, DE, Fair Hill is home to a seemingly endless network of singletrack. Better known for its horseracing scene, Fair Hill also hosts at least one mountain bike race a year along with a handful of weekly group rides.
The trails within Fair Hill are broken up into color-coded sections on the map that splits the trail network into four corners. Due to time restraints, we spent our time only in the Southern portion of the park where the red and yellow loops are located. It may go without saying, but you should really try to get some good beta from a local rider or better yet, have them show you around. While we were able to find some trails that were quite fun and were a good representation of what Fair Hill has to offer, I know we were missing a big chunk of the good stuff.
Fair Hill is best known for its horseracing and many of the bigger outer loops are shared with horseback riders. You will, however, come across signs along the trail that note certain trails are not intended for horses, indicating good twisty singletrack for your enjoyment. Fair Hill is also a ‘fair’-weather-only trail system; if you see that there is a chance of rain or snow in the forecast, I would suggest another location for riding that day.
The riding in Fair Hill can be best described as fast and flowy, but not overly groomed. The track is twisting and turning enough to keep you on your toes and there are enough obstacles (logs, rocks, and the occasional creek crossing) to make things interesting. I’ll be the first to admit that these are the kind of trails I seek out. Having raced the Fair Hill Classic a few years back, I remembered how much fun I was having on the trails while also struggling to breath trying to keep pace with the group.
The Fair Hill trails offer enough riding that one could spend several long days in the saddle riding all that is offered there. Located at just about an hour outside of Philadelphia and the Baltimore, Washington DC area, Fair Hill provides a perfect day trip getaway to some peaceful trails. If you are heading up be sure to check the map provided by the Trail Spinners and drive into Newark, DE for a post-ride burrito from El Diablo.