The expansion of mountain biking destinations and services benefits Northern Forest communities in two ways—by creating great local recreational resources for residents, as well as destination-worthy attractions that draw visitors to the region.
Since early 2017, the Center has been working with six mountain bike organizations in northern New Hampshire and adjacent parts of Vermont, Quebec, and Maine to develop the "MTB Collaborative," a group whose mission is to create and promote quality mountain biking experiences for visitors and residents while stewarding the natural landscape and securing economic benefits for North Country communities.
The group envisions a constellation of excellent trail networks built and run by committed locals, trails for all kinds of riders, accurate and detailed maps, a website to attract and inform visitors, and a robust business community to supporti local and visiting riders. The Center is facilitating the collaborative and is helping raise funds to make this vision a reality.
MTB Collaborative Members
Collaborative members include Coos Cycling Club in Gorham, NH; Mahoosuc Pathways in Bethel, ME; Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT; the Franconia Area Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association in Franconia, NH; PRKR MTN in Littleton, NH; and Circuits Frontières in East Hereford, Quebec. Within a roughly 2-hour geography, east-to-west and north-to-south, there are about 200 miles of well-constructed, purpose-built, very fun trails to ride—and many more to come.
The Collaborative is making it possible for member networks to design and build trails more quickly than they otherwise could, especially trails for beginner and intermediate riders, to help grow the sport. Together the participants are developing consistent maps, creating a common website that promotes regional mountain biking opportunities, and learning from each other’s experiences.
More Great Biking and Trails
There is great mountain biking in the Northern Forest beyond the networks participating in the Collaborative. We’re especially impressed by the Barkeater Trail Alliance in Lake Placid, NY, and Carrabassett NEMBA in Carrabassett Valley, Maine.
We look forward to working with the MTB Collaborative to build trail networks and programs that serve their communities and attract people looking for a fun ride—or even a new community where they can regularly get out and enjoy a network of purpose-built trails twisting through the forest.
Grants Awarded for Mountain Bike Trail Expansion
Expanding trail networks and making more trails accessible to novice mountain bikers are two fundamental goals of our mountain bike program. In May 2018, the MTB Collaborative awarded its first three mini-grants to support those objectives.
PRKR MTN Trails in Littleton, NH is “beginnerizing” some of its trails, which are notoriously difficult, to make mountain biking available to a wider and younger audience. Plenty of PRKR MTN's trails will remain challenging for advanced riders, though—the best trail networks offer something for everyone!
The Coos Cycling Club is expanding its network on the north slope of Pine Mountain in Gorham, NH. This summer they plan to add three miles of new, hand-built trail to the network that currently consists of 6+ miles of fun singletrack. That doesn’t include the extensive trails the club has built within Moose Brook State Park, a short bike ride from Pine Island.
Finally, Mahoosuc Pathways is adding to its Bethel Village Trails in Bethel, Maine, this summer, working toward 15 total miles of multi-use trails right from the village center. The trail expansion complements a new mountain bike program based at the local elementary school.
In August 2018, a second round of mini-grants was announced for the remaining three MTB Collaborative members to help form community connections and benefit local businesses.
Franconia Area NEMBA (a chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association) in Franconia, NH, is using its grant to improve existing cross-country ski trails for mountain bike access. These beginner-friendly trails provide the opportunity to develop important connectors between existing trails. Once established they will help strengthen a core network of trails close to downtown Franconia. Creating beginner-friendly mountainbiking opportunities makes Franconia more of a destination, helps attract new visitors to the White Mountains, and diversifies recreation opportunities for people already visiting.
Kingdom Trails (East Burke, VT) will put its grant toward trail expansion work in East Haven, VT. Roughly 290 people live in town, and the new trails will bring economic opportunity to help the community thrive. Residents are enthusiastic about the development because it will help relieve mountain bike congestion and driver/bike conflict near Kingdom Trails headquarters in East Burke, and will alleviate some of the busyness on the original trail network.
Circuits Frontieres, just across the border in East Hereford, Quebec, will use the bulk of its grant to replace several dangerous bridges that were limiting riders’ abilities to fully experience their trail system. Once the new bridges are built, more people will be able to enjoy the many local mountain biking events. The remainder of the grant will go toward extending the trail network within the Hereford Community Forest.
Recipients will use their grant funds to pay for labor and will match them with the value of volunteer time and other grants. The mini-grants are were made possible by funding from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, and other sources.
It’s exciting to see and experience these projects making progress! We encourage you to visit the networks periodically—on bike or on foot—to get a feel for these great singletrack trails and maybe run into some of our terrific collaborators.
Banner photo credit: Norm Greenburg, courtesy of Mahoosuc Pathways