Destination Showcase: Mountain Creek Bike Park, New Jersey

Jul 31, 2019
by Andy Vathis  

Mountain Creek Bike Park
Vernon's gravity playground
Photography & Words: Andy Vathis


Not far off the I-87 buried in the northern tip of New Jersey state, lies Mountain Creek Resort and Bike Park. The mountain itself is located in Vernon, a small town in Sussex County that is primarily rolling hills and agriculture. The grounds are roughly 167 acres of skiable terrain, however only the main peak is currently being used for chair accessed trails with eventual plans to expand. Mountain Creek also hosts one of the country’s first water parks. Action Park opened its doors in 1978 with slides integrated into the forest and other natural features. Much of the success to this destination is thanks to its proximity to the bigger North-Eastern U.S. cities. The resort is an hour’s drive from New York City and 60kms from Newark Liberty International Airport with many shuttle services available from both.

When thinking of New Jersey, most assume the shore as an obvious destination but looking inland, beyond the turnpike, can very well be just as exciting. Along with the riding and waterpark, there is the famous Appalachian trail if you’re into hiking that runs through the north end of the town. There are also a couple of diners and steakhouses worth checking out that come with an authentic Jersey attitude. Fun fact – you can sing karaoke every night of the week somewhere in Vernon if you choose to.



Mountain Creek Bike Park

Mountain Creek has been passed through a few hands since 1999, and with that came a few hardships and identity changes. After a fire and suspended operations, Clay Harper and partner Shawn Orrechio proposed and leased the land from the then owners and created Diablo Freeride Park in 2003. The Diablo days saw a slew of high-profile events, the birthplace of the U.S. Open series, and of course growth in the mountain bike community for the area. It was known to be hardcore with drops and rocks everywhere. Eventually, in 2012, the resort took back the land, restored the name, and with that began cutting trails that would cater to a much larger demographic of riders with the help of George Ryan as lead trail builder and machine operator. The history of the bike park is truly embedded in the town. Along with George, other veteran pros, such as Aaron Chase, Lars Tribus, Eric Porter, Jurgen Beneke, and Jeff Lenosky to name a few, made their marks there early in their careers.


No shortage of party laps on the flow trails. The progression flow trails offer tonnes of space between features to really get comfortable on each hit.
No shortage of party laps on the flow trails. The progression flow trails offer tons of space between features to really get comfortable on each hit.

Rob jibbing the wallride.

There s a good selection of wooden features to get wild one. Jamie flying out of the the wooden berm.
There's a good selection of wood features to get wild on. Jamie flying out of the wooden berm.

Another example of options found on Greenhorn.

Pipeline is a proper freeride trail with drop and big tables.

If you re into something a bit bigger Covenant is just the trail for you. Bigger drops and Cannon jumps.
If you're into something a bit bigger, Covenant is just the trail for you. Bigger drops and Cannon jumps.

It s easy and quite common to hike laps of the three big and perfectly sculpted tables in Lower Dominion. This section runs parallel to the fire road. Michael up and over with his race style.
Hands off for Jamie on Lower Dominion.
It's easy to hike laps of the three big and perfectly sculpted tables in Lower Dominion since the jump line runs parallel to the fire road.

No shortage of flow here.
The Trail Crüe worked wonders to bring flow to the rocky terrain that Mountain Creek is known for.

Mountain Creek has always featured rocky terrain and recently now added a freeride flavor. When Hugh and the crew took over in 2012, beginner and intermediate trails were the main focus. The gnar is alive and well but now everyone can ride the mountain. George has shaped a handful of trails that encourage progression all the way to the top.

Hugh Reynolds, VP of Marketing and Sales and Park director, and Clay Harper pinned in the perfectly sculpted berms.


Jamie Freese
Jamie Freese boosting the long jump wooden feature on Salvation.
Zack Harper following his dad in for a speed check.

George getting after it.

George Ryan doing George Ryan things.
George Ryan doing George Ryan things.

George Ryan is no stranger to the Mountain Creek community. He was a member of the race team at 17 years old before competing professionally in downhill, slopestyle, and in dirt jump competitions. He’s now the head of the Trail Crüe and continues to shape the future of the park.

Jeff Anderson is one of the main trail crew at Mountain Creek.
Jeff Anderson, one of Mountain Creek's main trail crew, picking his lines through the rocks.

Lower Candy Land is a big green room that flows fast and tight.
Lower Candy Land is a big green room where the flow is fast and tight and PBRs apparently grow on trees.

If you're looking for a good time in the boulders, check out Bushwack and Exodus and keep your speed up.

Laura Slavin on The Jack a mellow rocky trail.
Laura Slavin on The Jack, a mellow rocky trail.

The infamous Phantom drop is short for how tall it is. It s completely blind until your front wheel is hanging off the edge.
The infamous Phantom drop is short for how tall it is. It's completely blind until your front wheel is hanging off the edge.




A Glimpse of the Resort


I guess you can say Mountain Creek Resort has been in good hands since 2012 when Hugh Reynolds took over as Bike Park Director and George Ryan began on the trails. The park is certainly catering to every level of rider. Whether you're just starting out or need some help, bike camps are run all summer long to help you meet your goals. The rock gardens are properly technical and the flow tracks will have you in the air most of the way down. Once you're done with your ride, you can check out the water park or the town. Vernon is said to be the Vermont of New Jersey and it sure welcomes you in that sense. There's the Mixing Bowl diner to give a try and don't forget the Dairy Swirl ice cream shop. The mountain is always changing and adapting to give its visitors the best experience this side of NYC with a great riding community to go with it. Come for the perfect lips and landings, stay for the karaoke.

Need a bike for your visit or a tune on your current rig? Visit the bike shop for all your needs.


Long before the bike park days, Mountain Creek's only summer attraction was its unique water park which opened in 1978. Most of its slides and pools were built into the side of the mountain with a concrete base through the trees. Now, only the lower portion of the original rides are still in operation offering a number of options and even a cliff jump area. It's a great way to cool off with friends and family.

The Dairy Swirl is an iconic post ride spot to cool off.
The Dairy Swirl is definitely a place to check for that post-ride reward. It's just a couple minutes down the road has tons of flavors and specialties.

The crew enjoying some frozen goodness.
The crew enjoying some frozen goodness.

There are 40 or so beer choice available at a time at the Biergaten.
There are 40 or so beer choices available at a time at the Biergaten.
Karaoke fuel.
Karaoke fuel.

The Biergarten is ready to serve your meals and post-ride cold ones. It is also the meeting place for podiums and karaoke after some fun at the Thursday Night Race League held, you guessed it, every Thursday on a section of trail picked the day of.

Evenings at the Biergaten.


Local Knowledge
Getting Here: Mountain Creek is located in the northwest corner of New Jersey. Just an hour’s drive from New York City and easily accessible from most points in the northeast. It’s an easy hour and fifteen minute drive from Newark International Airport to get to the resort with many companies offering daily shuttle service to and from the airport.

Bike Shops and Repairs: Mountain Creek offers a full-service bike shop where you can purchase any riding gear you may need to replace or items you may have forgotten, as well as downhill mountain bike and equipment rentals. Their bike mechanics are always at the ready to assist with any unexpected repairs that may come up during your riding day. Additional shops in the area include: Ridetopia (Vernon), Sussex Bike Shop (Sussex) and Ride Bike Shop (Andover).

Lessons & Tours: The certified instructors of Mountain Creek Bike School offer a full range of lesson and private coaching options daily. The resort also hosts monthly women’s and kid’s beginner and intermediate downhill skills clinics. See a complete list of lessons and camps here.

Food & Drink: The Biergarten services Mountain Creek Park guest’s food and drink needs daily. This outdoor patio bar and grill offers burgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos and like for lunch as dinner, as well as seasonal selection of more than 40 craft beers and ciders. If you’re looking to head off property while visiting check out [L=https://www.penningscidery.com/]Penning’s Farm [/L](Warwick) or Warwick Valley Winery (Warwick) for food, drink and live entertainment. If you’re looking for an authentic Jersey breakfast experience, head over to the Mixing Bowl Restaurant (Vernon) and say hi to the girls.

Where to Stay: Mountain Creek offers onsite accommodations at the Appalachian hotel and Black Creek Sanctuary condominiums. Additional lodging in the area includes: Minerals Resort & Spa (Vernon), Holiday Inn Express (Newton) and several smaller motels and bed and breakfasts to fit all budgets. Campers should check out Toye Recreation (Vernon) or Waywayanda State Park (Warwick).

Local Mountain Biking and Clubs: Outside of the Bike Park, there are numerous options to get your pedal on at anyone of the many cross-country trail networks within a 30 minutes drive of the resort. Some notable riding locations include: Jungle Habitat (West Milford), Waywayanda State Park, Kittatinny State Park and Port Jervis Watershed Trails. In addition to cross-country riding there are two pump tracks within a short drive from the resort, the West Milford Pump Track and the brand new Port Jervis paved pumped track. Learn more at: JORBA and Outdoor Club of Port Jervis

Non-Bike Activities: Besides riding there are tons of other great things to do in the Vernon area. Mountain Creek Waterpark offers 20+ rides, slides and water attractions for hot bikers or families to enjoy. Golfers can catch 27 holes at Great Gorge Golf Course or you can challenge yourself at Treescape Aerial Adventure park on their 100+ high ropes obstacles. If fishing is your thing, the Vernon Valley offers some of the best freshwater fishing in New Jersey including the mountain top lakes and nearby Black Creek and Waywayanda Creek.

For more information, visit mountaincreek.com


Mountain Creek Bike Park mountain biking trails


Presented by Mountain Creek Resort

Regions in Article
Mountain Creek Bike Park


54 Comments

  • + 21
 Most people really underestimate how gnarly creek is. Some double black trails have Rock gardens that are literally boulder fields; pick your line on the best sorted boulders to get through. My first trip to whistler really surprised me when I couldn’t find the same difficulty of riding in tech.
  • + 6
 Yep. Having ridden/raced bike parks all over the west Creek remains one of the gnarliest places in the USA. Vert isn't everything. Triple Crown Enduro in 2015 or 16 when it rained for 4 days before the race = nastiest race I have ever been a part of. Rock gardens from hell.
  • + 5
 @WhiteroomGuardian:

We generally don’t build fun trails in the east as opposed to scrape off some leaves and say have fun riding down that! I love west coast flow/progressive too so it’s great creek has both on tap.
  • - 2
 If you see a bear without an orange collar and don't DH with a gun you might want to think exit strategy. Locals only tip.
  • + 3
 @jorgeposada: just heard of bear sightings this past sunday lol
  • - 2
 Ya lets say one day I was on the menu there with a rogue untracked bear a few years back. More of a problem on weekdays.
  • + 5
 thats SO true. I've ridden in a few other parks and there is really nothing that compares to the chunk they got over there. If you can get down the black diamonds @ creek (w/ all the roots, rocks, and sketchy traction), you can ride nearly anything.
  • + 1
 @jorgeposada: the terrain may be gnarly, but the bears are nothing compared to out west...Grizzly Bear vs Black Bear is not much of a contest. Bear spray isn’t a thing in the east.
  • + 0
 @VENOM2034: Black bear are quite common in this region of NJ. You're riding 50ft from momma bear and cub and don't realize it until you look down from the Gondola and see other riders whizzing by them, both seemingly unaware of the other, until you gain a new perspective, then you realize both are acutely aware of each other, each having their own fun. Mountain biking is awesome.
  • + 10
 We always look forward to our Race Events at MCBP, this year we'll be there with DH and Enduro Racing September 28-29, 2019. We really love the tracks that George Ryan designs for us !!!
  • + 1
 Heck yeah! Looking forward to seeing you guys in September.
  • + 8
 such a fun mix of tech and well-built, pretty big features.

Although I gotta say: these photos are mostly amazing, but I've never seen a photographer make the Red Bull drop on Covenant look smaller
  • + 9
 BMW, Ripper, Road To Nowhere, Upper to Lower Breakout! Just a few of the classic trails at Creek from the Diablo days!
  • + 3
 Road to nowhere down through the red bull cabin drop is one of my all time favorite trails
  • + 5
 I just rode here again after close to a 2 season hiatus and I have to say, the park is better than ever. Diablo was fun in a gritty way but toward the end of the Diablo days.... It got sketchy as hell. After riding all over the West, a bit in Canada and other places here in the Northeast, Mountain Creek is still one of the most fun places to ride, period. I think the only park I’ve been to that has rockier trails is Keystone. The best part of Creek is there are flow trails for every level and proper rock/root natural trails that will rattle your teeth in the best way possible.
  • + 4
 MCBP was a very welcome surprise coming from middle Vermont. I went to college close to it, and was shocked to see the tech trails get just as rowdy as anything at Sugarbush, Highland or Killington. They sure make the most of their vert.
  • + 7
 It doesn’t feel like a proper bike season without getting to this place. What’s 8 hours in the car to ride dominion....
  • + 5
 Can we get further details on the plans to expand? This would be awesome! Mountain Creek is such a special place
  • + 2
 They need to make it out of bankruptcy first. Shared a lift up with the comptroller and it sounds like they’ve turned the corner on that. More trail work being done this year compared to last is a good sign.
  • + 4
 Check our insta stories from today for a sneak peek at the next major project we're taking on
  • + 4
 Always was fun trying to make it down BMW, Stigmata, US Open 04 and Ripper...
  • + 3
 the gnarliest bike park in US...about time to give the proper attention to MCBP, amazing photos full of steeze, would be nice to have a sick edit
  • + 2
 Looks like a cool place. Is there enough long, flowy trails to entertain for a 2-3 days? I like black diamond tech, but not as much a fast and flowy. Just went to Snowshoe for the first time, and that place is gold.
  • + 4
 Your body can’t take 3 days. Flow isn’t really a thing at creek. Gnarly rock trails are
  • + 4
 Snowshoe is vacation, Creek is work.
  • + 4
 @pizzaiolo: Creek runs a million times better than the Shoe in the rain though. Gwinny said Snowshoe in the wet was the hardest race of the year. Creek is rowdy and loves to eat wheels. Love smashing rocks there.
  • + 3
 We have 52 trails of downhill ranging from trail bike friendly flow to gnarliest of gnar. You definitely need more than 1 day to ride it all.
  • + 2
 for sure. and the fast and flowy is really good, even if the tech is better
  • + 4
 Mountain Creek is worth the drive if you are east coast. Easily the craziest DH park out this way.
  • + 4
 I spy a Jeb - thanks for all the awesome work you and your crew do to make mountain biking worth the trip for so many
  • + 1
 Jebby!!!
  • + 2
 It's our pleasure my friend! Come play!
  • + 5
 Baby Jesus rode there!
  • + 1
 Christmas Jesus is my favorite Jesus...when you say grace, you can say adult Jesus, teenage Jesus or bearded Jesus... any Jesus you want...
  • + 3
 I remeber the days of Diablo Freeride Park.....so many memories over the last 15+ years.......
  • + 3
 Bring back Doms Denial, flume drop, and that sketchy ladder to rock thing above alpine
  • + 1
 Classics for sure
  • + 4
 i usually break myself here once a year...
  • + 2
 This place is awesome, so many different trails. Creek is definitely one of my favorite place to ride.
  • + 3
 youtu.be/hPaVyQcOxos
Here is a Youtube link of the different terrain Creek has to offer. Super fun place.
  • + 2
 @Oscarorozco: Oscar beasting it on Ripper!!!! 3 3
  • + 3
 PBRs really do grow on trees there
  • + 3
 It really is a magical place
  • + 2
 Honored to have been a part of the history and making! Cheers to the crew who continues making this place what it is today!
  • - 2
 There’s a serious lack of Upkeep but some may enjoy that. If the management can keep catering to more flow and maintenance the place would really be a top notch all around place in the north east (creeks blue tech trails are harder than anything at thunder, killington, blue etc)
  • + 2
 I think it's important to say this is the fastest lift in the northeast.
  • + 2
 Miss you guys
  • + 1
 We miss you too Paulie!
  • + 1
 Miss you bubby
  • + 1
 Janky central
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