Single-Track Biking

June 17, 2009

Whether you’re in search of thigh-burning climbs and eye-watering descents or prefer the technical demands of a rocky and rooty trail, the Northeast offers a growing number of single-track trails for the nobby-tire crowd. Most areas open to mountain biking will offer a little of everything, so you may want to break from the routes detailed below to create your own mix—just make sure to pack a map. Most trails are multi-use, so bikers should be prepared to yield to hikers and other users.

Wild River Loop
Hastings, Maine
This two-state trail will test your technical skills in one direction and your speed in the other. Follow the short spur path from the Hastings Plantation parking area and cross the suspension bridge over the Wild River to the challenging Highwater Trail, which will take you into New Hampshire. After crossing the river at the Moriah Brook suspension bridge, take a left onto the gentle Wild River Road and bomb back to the parking area. Beyond the bridge is a Wilderness area where mountain biking is not allowed.
Distance: 14-mile loop or out-and-back
Info: Discover Maine (AMC Books)

Moose Brook State Park
Gorham, N.H.
Trails through Moose Brook were first blazed in the 1930s, and in the last two years they’ve been supplemented by a series of mountain bike trails that offer a mix of moderate single-track and dirt roads. Creating a defined loop in this network can be tough, but if you head out from the Moose Brook Campground, you’ll have no trouble filling a few hours with good riding, and can even connect to the nearby Presidential Rail Trail. There is a small day-use fee.
Distance: A variety of distances available
Info: New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation

Lincoln Woods State Park
Lincoln, R.I.
With more than 10 miles of trails, Lincoln
Woods is a favorite escape for Ocean State mountain bikers. Start your ride about 0.4 mile into the park, where a left off the paved road will take you toward Olney Pond. You’ll cross over the road at 0.7 mile as you follow a mix of dirt roads and single-track away from the pond. Proceed around Tablerock Hill, and 1.7 miles into your ride look for a left turn, which will loop you around the top of the figure-eight. As you come around Tablerock Hill a second time, follow the path back to the paved road. The trails are unblazed, so pack a map.
Distance: 4.5-mile figure eight
Info: Discover Rhode Island (AMC Books)

High Country Ponds
Pittsfield and Hancock, Mass.
The undulating trails of the Pittsfield State Forest take you up to some of the highest ponds in the state. After parking at the Forest entrance, head north on the paved Berry Pond Circuit Road. After half a mile you will find a single-track trailhead to your left; follow the trail for nearly 1 mile and join the Hawthorne Trail. A steep climb will lead you to the Pine Mountain Trail. Two and a half miles into your ride you’ll reach a beaver dam at Tilden Swamp. Bear to the right onto the Parker Brook Trail and follow this steep descent back to your starting point.
Distance: 4.2-mile loop
Info: Discover the Berkshires of Massachusetts (AMC Books)

Hartshorne Woods Park
Middletown, N.J.
One of New Jersey’s premier mountain biking locales, Hartshorne Woods consists of more than 700 acres with 19 miles of trail, some of which overlook the Navesink River on the northeastern corner of the New Jersey shoreline. For a moderate-to-challenging 9-mile loop, you can stick to the perimeter of the park. From the parking area off Navesink Avenue, follow the Laurel Ridge Trail to the northeast, and connect to the Cuesta Ridge, Rocky Point, and Grand Tour trails before returning to Laurel Ridge.
Distance: 9 miles
Info: Monmouth County Park System

Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
Wind Gap, Pa.
Jacobsburg features 15 miles of trail open to mountain bikers. Most are fast and not a great technical challenge, making Jacobsburg ideal for beginners. Park at the Henry Road entrance and head counter-clockwise on the Jacobsburg Trail. You’ll likely want to piece together a few loops, so connect first to the inner blue-blazed Homestead Trail, then when you return to the parking area head out along the outer red-blazed trail. Be aware that much of the Center is open to hunters.
Distance: 15 miles of trail available
Info: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area
Fair Hill, Md.
Tucked in the northeastern corner of Maryland, the 5,600-acre Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area borders Pennsylvania and is also easily reached from Delaware. Perhaps best known as an equestrian center, Fair Hill features more than 75 miles of multi-use trails also open to mountain bikers and hikers. For a challenging loop, pick up the Orange Trail from Parking Lot #1 (just off Route 273). The trail will take you through a mixture of hayfields and forest, with views overlooking Big Elk Creek at the halfway point.
Distance: 5.8 miles
Info: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.