Big Merlin is a smooth and rolling singletrack, easy to access from the parking area at its start, or from the short connector trail coming over from Holiday Valley.
Although the trail surfs the contour of the East McCarty Hill spur, it has plenty of climbing and descents. This trail starts at East McCarty Hill forest road near a popular parking spot. After a short bit it comes to the intersection with Porcupine Trail
. Stay left and soon you'll enter a particularly nice section of red pine.
The trail starts to descend to meet up with an old log road that could take you to the bottom if you're interested. Instead, stay left and regain all that altitude you just lost.
Once back up top, you'll come across a bail out back to the road, but you'll stay right to stay on the trail. This leads to a somewhat side hill section that brings you out to the end of a side spur. Since it's the end, this means you get to descend again. This time you'll be on some nice bench cut and a switchback.
At the bottom, you'll follow an old log road briefly to start the climb back up. This quickly turns to singletrack along a nice bench cut sidehill climb. At the top, the trail heads left along an old log trail that brings you back from the end of this side spur. It turns to singletrack to stay on the side of the ridge. Soon the trail starts to descend again, only to climb back up. Are you starting to notice a pattern here?
Just in case all that climbing back up has tired your legs, the last part of this trail is relatively level, paralleling the last bit of East McCarty Hill Forest Rd. Where it crosses a small access trail, you can bail out to the road or continue on straight to Dead Dog Loop