Summer Biking Showdown: The City vs. The Mountains of New Hampshire
For the city cyclist, dodging traffic is sometimes an unpleasant part of life. So perhaps this summer, you might consider swapping your single speed for a ride with a few more gears, exploring some of New Hampshire’s world-class mountain biking trails. Whether you’re a new or advanced rider, you won’t be hard pressed to find a stretch of terrain across the state’s many miles of trails to accommodate your skill set. Here are some of the areas you can expect to be a little different when trading traffic, asphalt and crosswalks for calm, earth and wilderness.
“It’s a great way to experience the Granite State, by bike,” says Philip Keyes, executive director of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA). “You get out there and are really in touch with nature, see some great views, maybe some wildlife. Exploring New Hampshire by mountain bike is just a very special thing.”
For starters, you’ll want to approach a trail conducive to your abilities. You wouldn’t take on the Black Diamond on your first day skiing, would you? Luckily, most every trail you hit will have areas with a smoother ride and wider trails, more equipped for beginners. Those include:
For the more experienced mountain biker, check out:
One of the greatest advantages, though, that mountain biking has over city cycling is the camping component. For those making the short trips up from Boston or down from Portland, camping is a great way to turn a 2-hour ride in the woods into a weekend getaway with friends and family. Bear Brook State Park—New Hampshire’s largest developed state park—stretches over 10,000 acres in Allenstown, and has a built-in campground, making it one of the state’s more popular riding destinations. In the incredibly popular town of North Conway, not far from the White Mountains, you’ll also find impressive trails and campsites at Black Cap.
While you enjoy the trails, it’s also important to keep your wits about you. When cycling in the city, you’re never far from civilization. Even when you get lost, you can pop into a store and ask for directions or, better yet, plug in where you’re trying to get to on your phone’s GPS system. Out in the woods, those luxuries are less available. Mountain bikers new to New Hampshire’s trails should be cognizant of available maps and signage at any given trail. Because some trails are more equipped than others with directional signage, riders should prepare in advance and aim to explore well-signed properties.
From there, you’ll be free to explore what Keyes calls the “fantastic mosaic” that is New Hampshire’s diverse mountain biking terrain, far away from the city lights and hot pavement. Because that will all be waiting for you back home, anyway.