5.7 miles out and back (paved road, mostly flat)
6.5 mile loop (paved and dirt roads with steeper sections)
Spring can be a tough time for getting outdoors in northern New England. Trails can be muddy, with ice and snow at some of the higher elevations, and paddling in cold waters can be treacherous. The sun is shining and temperatures are warming up, but muddy conditions can make getting outside challenging this time of year.
One of our favorite things to do in the spring is to go on family bike rides, and one of the best places to do this is along the quiet and relatively flat roads of Bear Brook State Park, near Concord, NH. When my children Tasha and Jackson were 3 and 5, I was directing the NH Conservation Corps which is a land stewardship program run through NH State Parks, The Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps. The program happened to be located in the heart of Bear Brook State Park, and for four delightful years my family and I lived in the Civilian Conservation Corps-built Park Manager house near the entrance of the park. While we were there, we taught our kids to ride bikes–and discovered that this park is a biking oasis ripe for exploration by young families.
Today, it remains one of our favorite places to ride bikes–and the 10,000 acre park has a wide variety of biking options from the smooth paved campground road to fun downhills on the gravel Podunk Road, to some of New England’s best single track.
This bike loop on park roads is attractive for many reasons at this time of year. It is 100% on quiet park roads with no challenging trail riding–making it a great loop for even the youngest bikers looking for their first trip “beyond the driveway.” The park roads are not busy until July when the summer campers arrive, making it relatively quiet and safe–a great introduction to road biking with young children. The route is mostly flat, with small rolling hills to make it interesting. The road winds through the dense pine forests of Bear Brook State Park, passing many interesting attractions along the way: fly fishing ponds, an archery range, a clean sandy beach at Beaver Pond, and even a newly installed playground at the campground. The campground store is not open until late May, so bring your own food and water.
Even though the road is quiet with relatively little traffic this time of year, this is a good training ground to learn the rules of the road for bikers: