Within the early days of mountain biking, riders used no matter trails and roads that existed on the bottom to get the place they wished to go. Forest service and powerline entry roads, climbing and even sport trails had been “methods into the woods.” Snowmobile trails had been usually thrown into the combo.
Epic mountain bike rides had been cobbled collectively, utilizing all these numerous woods corridors. The aim was to make it by means of, irrespective of how tough the journey, and to tout your conquests across the campfire.
That’s not what mountain bikers are searching for at present. They need easy, flowy single-track, machine-built trails with berms and jumps and well-laid out path networks. Exploration has been changed by exhilaration. Riders are searching for pace, not technical and navigational challenges.
Final week, Peter and I had been searching for one thing totally different to journey. Our ordinary trails and dust street decisions appeared boring — we’d been there, achieved that. We determined to do some old-time exploring in Madison, utilizing snowmobile trails to hyperlink locations of curiosity. Peter’s a map man so he pulled out all of the maps he had of that space. We studied topo and gazetteer maps after which checked out the Scrub Oak Scrambler’s snowmobile map we’d bought years in the past. To purchase a duplicate, go to tinyurl.com/y5z5w29y.
As I scanned the snowmobile map, a journey and an article matter got here into focus — “hyperlink the lakes.” May we mix trails and roads to make a loop journey from Silver Lake to Ossipee Lake? That was the problem.
The limitation with maps is they’re two-dimensional. Even topo maps don’t actually let you know what’s on the bottom. You’ll be able to see how a lot elevation achieve you’ll must cope with and what pure options you’ll encounter. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to’t inform what the path floor goes to be like till you journey it. That’s a part of the attraction and adventure-the unknown. It will also be the flipside — discouragement and misadventure. We determined to attempt it anyway.
Bikes loaded within the van, we drove to Madison on 113, bore left on East Madison Street. Simply previous Durgin Pond, we turned proper on the dust Lead Mine Street which works all the way in which to Silver Lake, besides in winter. The place Lead Mine bears proper and Black Brook Street goes straight forward and dead-ends, we turned proper, passing by Goodwin City Forest on our left, with its a number of path entrance factors.
Searching for indicators of the snowmobile path, we noticed a big orange signal with an arrow pointing up the powerline. We’d discovered the path! It seemed “rideable” with a single monitor climbing up the hill. Sadly, we shortly found it was tough with ditches and tire-stopping rocks. It wasn’t a lot enjoyable, however we stubbornly persevered.
After we crossed the Goodwin Forest path, we noticed a “gradual” signal forward, indicating a flip forward. The path turned proper and entered the woods, fortunately turning into a extra rideable street. At snowmobile Junction D, we contemplated our decisions — .5 miles proper to Silver Lake Touchdown or 1.5 miles left to Ossipee Lake. We took the shorter route. West Department Path was very rooty, however brief, and introduced us out straight throughout Lead Mine Street from the boat launch and dam.
The day was very windy and the lake water uneven. We weren’t stunned nobody was out on the lake. We stopped there to establish the various mountains we noticed throughout the lake and plan our subsequent transfer. The tough journey again to Junction D didn’t enchantment to us. Utilizing his maps, Peter prompt an alternate course. He noticed a snowmobile path on the map that was simply up the street and prompt we attempt that.
We turned proper from touchdown and rode East Shore Drive till we discovered the snowmobile path heading towards Ossipee Pine Barrens. The Pine Barrens Path is .7 miles of Class VI city street. It’s very rideable and mushy. It took us into the Ossipee Pine Barrens, a really uncommon place. In keeping with the Nature Conservancy that has managed and guarded over 2,700 acres right here since 1988, that is “New Hampshire’s final intact pitch pine-scrub oak woodland pure neighborhood.” It’s a “globally uncommon forest sort.”
Peter and I had by no means been within the Pine Barrens, although we’d handed by it on Route 41 and Ossipee Lake Street quite a few occasions. We prevented it in summer season, considering it a scorching, dry and ticky place. The snowmobile path took us proper into it. Tall stands of Pitch Pine framed the street. Blueberry bushes turning purple lined the street. On a cool fall day, it was a fantastic and peaceable place to journey.
On the kiosk and parking zone, we turned left. A newly created 1 mile “Accessible Path” went proper. This 5-foot large, largely flat path lined with compacted crush gravel can be utilized by walkers, strollers and wheelchairs. It provides individuals of all ages and talents a option to discover and benefit from the forest.
On the powerline, we met a canine walker who prompt we take a brief connector path to the platform on the finish of the accessible path. It appears over West Department River and has views of Mount Whittier. It was a worthy diversion.
Again on the powerline, we adopted the snowmobile path to the Fred Jones Memorial Bridge over the river. Trying up and down the river, we noticed bushes already altering to vivid colours. Simply previous the bridge, we noticed the Junction 41 E signal. A proper flip there would take us finally to Ossipee Lake, but it surely was too late within the day for that. We opted to show left and head again towards Silver Lake, saving that for one more day of exploration.
Again at Junction D, we selected to take West Department Path again to Lead Mine Street for a faster, simpler journey again to the automotive. We completed the journey with 5.7 miles exhibiting on the pc.
Was the journey value it? Sure and no — elements of it had been tough and ugly, however the Pine Barrens half made up for that. I’d like to go discover extra of that space. We did see new territory from a novel perspective and that made it worthwhile.
While you exit mountain bike exploring, you must take the great with the dangerous. That’s a part of the problem. Even tough rides could make for attention-grabbing tales — for those who survive.
When tackling new territory, be sure to’re ready. Take a map and compass, loads of water and snacks, instruments for repairs and tire adjustments, additional clothes if the climate adjustments, a headlamp for those who get caught out after darkish and first help provides, simply in case. Pack in a bit intestinal fortitude to get you thru the tough locations. You by no means know what you’ll encounter on the market within the woods. Go discover!
Sally McMurdo is a motorbike security teacher and bicycle owner who lives in Glen.