By Brion O’Connor
New England’s fall foliage is known the world over. But while most visitors will take in the colors passively, ripping through the woods on your mountain bike will ensure a visual blast.
And there’s no better time to let the rubber hit the trails in New England than autumn when the air is crisp and the trails are dry. Here are four road trips guaranteed to plaster a smile on any hard-core knobby tire enthusiast. There are even foliage maps that let you know when it’s time to go.
Difficulty: 5 stars
The hardscrabble hamlet of Barre, Vermont, off I-89, features trails modeled after the successful Kingdom Trails to the north. Recreating the once industrial wasteland into a recreational utopia, Millstone Hill Touring Center has doubled the riding terrain resulting in an 80-mile labyrinth that twists and turns through quarries and thick forests, and includes a signature mile-long downhill run. On-premise lodging lets you to wake up and ride the mostly technical trails. millstonetrails.com.
Bear Brook State Park
Difficulty: 4 stars
Bear Brook State Park offers everything from gentle rolling routes with a few technical sections to classic boney singletrack. Situated in Allentown less than 30 minutes from Concord or Manchester. Bear Brook 40-mile trail system journeys throughout the park’s 10,000 acres including new trail like the rollercoaster Hemlock Trail and new Bear Brook Extension Tails. This is why the New England Mountain Biking Association is hosting its annual NEMBAfest celebration at Bear Brook on Oct. 4. nhstateparks.org.
Bradbury Mountain State Park
Difficulty: 3 stars
Not all serious mountain bikers are single. Many have tied the knot, and have families, which is why Bradbury Mountain should be on your knobby radar. Situated in Pownal close to Freeport, Bradbury gives the fat-tire family plenty of choices, including riding options over 1,000 acres of forestland. Most of the trails are rated beginner and intermediate, including the 485-foot Bradbury Mountain. But the O Trail and other newer additions are also upping the ante. bradburymountain.com.
Russell Mill Town Forest
Difficulty: 4 stars
For Boston mountain bikers, day trips are a blast, but among the best additions
to the Beantown bike scene is Russell Mill Town Forest in Chelmsford. Wedged between two other terrific riding areas – Great Brook Farm and Billerica State Forest – Russell Mill boasts more than five miles of brand-new singletrack, thanks to the joint efforts of the town and Merrimack Valley NEMBA chapter. mv-nemba.org.
Homepage photo courtesy of Killington Resort/Justin Cash