DBNF 2015 Livingston, a KY Trail Town

Our 4th day started early atop S-Tree, where we ate, packed, and were on bikes by 7.15. I knew we had a short-but-tough day in store and was excited to see what Horse Lick Creek Rd. looked like in summer instead at 30F. The first 7 miles were rolling, smooth gravel, and the flow along Carpenter was really refreshing. I'm not sure I want to climb Carpenter, but that few miles was as relaxed as I felt on the entire trip; my legs were tired. Carpenter had no houses until the very end where we ran across some ranchettes and what looked like an outdoor living room or schoolroom. I had to keep focused on the .gpx because, again, there was a "not road" somewhere at the end of Carpenter. We found it around the corner from the cemetery.

Now that's a new spot to put your sign, behind some boughs on a tree. 


I didn't want to get too close, but the building to the left was set up either like a living room/movie room or maybe a school house with activities stations. I didn't want to disturb the locals. 

"For sale", dear. Hermitage. 

Again using Strava segments, I knew this trail existed. It was a half-mile rock-strewn bomb down into the creek valley. At the bottom we veered ever so slightly off the .gpx and ended up on a slightly road than anticipated, but eventually found Raccoon Creek, which Dave and I had previously ridden. We weren't lost.

A pic from the bottom of Carpenter. To the right, by the field, we found a "Private Property" sign. The road-like entity behind the puddle is a "road" I think. We veered to the left on a more "road-like" structure. 

Horse Lick Creek Rd. is a long stretch of 4x4 trail, although a horse had trodden our route recently according to fresh tracks. As did Dave and I, Patrick and I negotiated rocks, roots, mudholes, trails, gravel, creek crossings, trail offshoots, and such. It rides much more like a singletrack trail than it does a road, so some 8 miles in distance feels twice as long due to the physicality and attention you need. At one point on a severe ditch crossing Patrick's rear skewer pulled out. What was a quick fix could have been a long walk what with nothing for miles. I'm not sure if I enjoyed the summer or winter version more. The forest tunnel was very muggy, sauna-like.

 This pic below is the creek crossing that turned back Dave and me in the winter. It looks like the creek is now a couple feet lower, oh, and 60F warmer. Patrick and I used the crossing to rinse of the bikes a bit, and with this crossing we knew we were nearing the end of Horse Lick.

This is actually White Oak Rd. I had us turn here due to memory, only to find a bit up the road that the .gpx had us turning the other way. It would have been a dead end some miles into the forest. 

While strenuous, our last day from S-Tree to Livingstone wasn't going to be particularly long due to our camp move a few nights ago. Once out of the bushes we took 89 all the way to Livingston, a nice and smooth, river run  with little traffic. I was pretty blown up, though, and found the lack of coasting to be a chore. I was cooked.

Intersection of 89 and 490. Nice bridge. 

Markings at this intersection for the Sheltowee, Rockcastle Trails, and DanHenrys for the Redbud Ride.  

At this side of the bridge, Patrick, who at this point was ahead of me, had an interesting interchange with the local constabulary. He approached Patrick and asked if it was our vehicle parked in town. Patrick responded "yes" expecting a ticket or excoriation. Instead, the officer expressed relief as we had left the car overnight and the locals thought something had befallen us. Nice to know that someone cares. Small town life, you know.

 About Livingston. this small railroad town is trying to rebrand itself and drum up tourism as a "KY Trail Town". They've done a nice job with displays, trail maps, signage, and a visitor's center in the old school. A couple earlier posts had pics of signs of their trail markers, not only for bikers but for horses and drivers too, in addition to the Sheltowee passing through town. As we finished our ride we decided to eat at the local diner, which sufficed.  I hope Livingston's strategy works, as it was a nice little rural KY town and one that deserves a visit, especially from those looking to explore the beautiful countryside in the area.

Well, this is where things get a bit more, or less, interesting. The plan was to camp one more night, likely at Holly Bay campground at the location of a well-rated singletrack trail. We would unload the bikes and take a real mountain bike trail ride as a departing shot to a great week. En route we washed the filthy bikes off and grabbed some more liquids and a snack for the 30min drive down to the campsite. One there we asked for a pass to check out the primitive sites, which had communal water and restrooms. (I won't write much about the crazy speed lady) The price was fair and we strongly considered how we would spend Friday afternoon and evening before riding Saturday morning.

A few issues came to bear, though. The heat was becoming a bit oppressive. Did we really want to lie around sweating all afternoon? And sleep in it that night? The forecast looked like rain. Did we want to be hunkered down under the tents in the rain? I encouraged Patrick to take a test run, to ride a portion of the trail to see how we liked it as a motivating factor to stay or not to stay. We were decided. Run some trail and see if it was worth it.  We parked outside of the campsite on the north end of the trail  and rode a very short section to find steep rollers, ones which burned our tired legs. Ugh again.

We crossed the road and tried a different section of trail, one we were supposed to do out of Bee Rock but bailed on due to rain. It involved a 2.5m downhill to some falls and then the climb out.  As the pics may attest, this section of trail was very challenging- "old school mtbiking" as I called it- with few "flow" features or manicuring. My pictures are mostly of the more rideable areas, but we both had to dismount plenty. I suspect it wouldn't have been that much fun fully loaded; it wasn't that much fun unloaded. I think at the end of the our 5 miles-ish of singletrack that we had satisfied our riding jones for the week. We loaded up and headed back to the barn, satisfied that we had done things as well as possible.


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