Ft. Duffield

Mountain Biking a Civil War fort in West Point, KY


Trail: Red, Yellow and Slalom

Trailhead: There is only one parking lot and all trails head out and/or return to here. 37.991185, -85.946209

Miles: ~10 miles of bikeable trails.

Trail notes:  No biking is allowed in the fort itself or along that green trail that connects the cemetery to the fort.  The trails here tend to be steeper and more technical than most in the Louisville, KY metro.

Creek with a small waterfall running through Ft Duffield Park
Small waterfall at Ft Duffield Park

This past month has been one of an exceptional amount of rain in the area. There were a few clear days this past week that allowed the trails dry out and I took advantage by hitting the them on my mountain bike.

I set out for Fort Duffield, in West Point, KY, which is about 35 minutes southwest of Louisville. This was originally the site of a Union Civil War Fort that housed approximately 1,000 men. There were no battles here but the fort did serve as a strategic outlook and formidable deterrent as it overlooks the town of West Point and the convergence of the Salt River and the Ohio River.  Today the site is on the National Register of Historical Places and is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail.  

Ohio River overlook at Ft. Duffield
Ohio River overlook at Ft. Duffield

Today’s post is focused on mountain biking in the park and I will do a post in the future focusing hiking here.

Ft. Duffield Trail Map
Ft. Duffield Trail Map

The trails here are divided in a couple of ways. One is that the Red and Blue trails are more cross country oriented and make a complete loop around the site. The Red trail is the longest covering most all of the park and is ~ 4 miles. The Yellow and Slalom trails are more downhill, big travel bike oriented. The Yellow trail features many jumps including some larger for the area gap jumps, a wall ride and some fast rock gardens. Lastly, the shortest route is a very steep downhill slalom course.  The trails are also divided by the parking lot/road and a creek the splits the park to the North and South.

My ride today started like most riders do with hitting the Red trail heading along the north side of the road.  This is a tight single-track trail with a lot of roots, rocks, and tight tree gaps requiring your attention.  You soon start to climb to the top. Along the way there are several short, technical, punchy climbs that are rideable but many may have to walk. You’ll be rewarded for choosing a smart line and maintaining your momentum. Toward the top you will crossover the service road where you reenter the trail with the last section having two more short rooty climbs that will challenge most riders.  

You now exit at the top of the fort where you will see the 17-foot-tall earthen works of the fort, a small log building and a redoubt for the infantry. There is a ramp that leads to a lookout over the town and the Ohio River. Up here you will also find more information on the fort including a list of the names and causes of all that died at the fort, and two more small log buildings.

Small log cabins at Ft. Duffield
Small log cabins at Ft. Duffiel

Getting back on the trails you can head all the way across the fort and get back onto the Red Trail. Or you can do as I did and head about ¾ ways across the fort and enter the yellow trail. Here you will find a fast and fairly steep .75 mile trail featuring many jumps. There are step-ups, step-downs, gap jumps, a creek jump, and a wall ride. I’ve ridden this on a 100mm hard tail CX bike, and a 140/140 trail bike. It’s doable on the CX bike but will be much more fun on a full suspension bike with plenty of travel. The yellow trail will spit you back out at the end of the parking lot and you can now choose your next adventure. I usually do repeated laps of the Red/Yellow trail combo with some of the slalom course thrown in. The slalom trail is short, ~.25 miles, very steep and features lots of tight switchbacks.

Wall ride on the Yellow Trail at Ft. Duffield
Wall ride on the Yellow Trail at Ft. Duffield

The punchy technical climbs wear you out quickly. As I get tired, I will resort to riding up the service road to get to the top. From here I can choose the trailhead I want to descend. While the road is easier than climbing the trails, it isn’t necessarily easy either. The service road is .3 miles long, ~300 feet of climbing and at grades up to 16 percent.

I hope you enjoy your time riding at Ft. Duffield. Let me know how you find the riding and be sure to share how you like to link up the trails when you are riding here?

Published by Natural Wanderer


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