Finally, I made it to the North Fork Mountain Trail for the first time ever. It's been on my wish list since January of 2020. After gathering beta from friends who frequent the trail, reading websites and watching mountain biking videos, I decided to run the point-to-point route southbound, opposite of the recommended, because I prefer climbing.
My Garmin fenix 6s clocked it at 23.79 miles with 6,024 feet of elevation gain and 3,618 feet of elevation loss.
At the start, it was 48 degrees with a cold, hard rain that persisted for the first 10 miles. It slowed to a drizzle for about three miles in the middle and then hit hard with another downpour for the last 10.7 miles. The trail is narrow, on the ridge, beautiful, rocky, technical, well-marked, easy to follow and well-maintained. The last half has some wide double track through private property, and the last three miles (if running southbound) turn back into fast, flowing single track. Miles four to five had about eight to 10 downed trees, and a few more minor blowdowns existed along the trail but nothing too difficult to jump over or duck under. Lots of overlooks and views were there for the taking, but I kept moving forward, never veering off the trail, in an effort to keep warm. The ground itself is so rocky and dry that even in the downpour, no puddles or mud formed - it was the low shrubs, grass and young trees leaning into the trail from the weight of the rain that soaked me even more from head to toe. I only got mixed up once where several pipeline roads intersect around mile 13-13.5. I had to stop and look around and slowly jog in circles to find the blue diamond blazes but quickly figured it out from the map on my watch. I was warned beforehand to take plenty of water, so I carried a three-liter reservoir full of a hydration mix plus two 17-ounce flasks. I had about one liter leftover at the finish. What a memorable first-time experience - I loved it! I felt great the whole time and finished strong and happy :) This is a must-do trail.
The shuttle is quite long. My husband dropped me off at the northern terminus, a 40-minute drive from where we camped. Then he drove the 40 minutes back to camp. The drive to pick me up was 90 minutes, and our return trip to camp was 90 more, with our two young sons in tow. It's a spectacular, scenic drive. Come with a full tank of gas and be prepared to have zero cell phone reception.