If you need an excuse to ride bikes and visit local shops in seven beautiful towns this year, we have one for you: it’s the Tour de Borderlands, a unique new way to experience the Northern Forest.
The Borderlands is a collection of seven mountain biking organizations in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and just over the border in Quebec. These groups have been collaborating for two years to strengthen their trail networks and build a regional identity. Officially launched this spring, the Borderlands initiative aims to attract more people to the Northern Forest and encourage locals to take up mountain biking too.
One of the Borderlands destinations – Kingdom Trails – is already well-established as a major mountain biking hub. The others, each of which is no more than two hours from another, offer great riding experiences too – as well as other recreational opportunities and places to visit, from brewpubs to swimming holes to local-foods cafes and markets.
Each mountain biking location is also hosting a special Borderlands event this summer. Profile Trails and PRKR MTN in Franconia and Littleton, NH, kick off the series with festivities on May 18-19. Get your passport and head to Circuits Frontieres in East Hereford, Quebec, on June 8. Mahoosuc Pathways is tying its Borderlands event to the annual Molly Ockett Day festival in Bethel, Maine, on July 20. Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont, will celebrate Borderlands and more on August 10, followed by Craftsbury Outdoor Center on Sept. 8. We’ll wrap up the season with a party at HubNorth in Gorham, NH – the Coos Trails home base – on Sept. 21.
You don’t have to attend these events to qualify as a Tour de Borderlands finisher – you can complete the tour on your own time – but we hope you’ll make it to at least a couple of the events. And don’t forget, you must submit photos of yourself on the trail and at a local business for each location to qualify as a Tour de Borderlands finisher.
The Northern Forest Center coordinates the Borderlands because we know mountain biking can help revitalize rural communities: it attracts visitors who spend money at local businesses, gives local residents a new and exciting way to recreate outdoors, makes towns more appealing to people who might want to relocate there, and more. We also believe that mountain bike trail development needs to be environmentally responsible and consistent with other land uses. And it’s only one of the activities needed to bring new life to Northern Forest towns – you can read about our other community revitalization strategies, from housing redevelopment to broadband expansion, here.
To learn more about Borderlands and its member networks, visit www.bikeborderlands.com and listen to interviews with Center Program Director Maura Adams, one on the Vermont Outdoors podcast and the other on New England Dirt, a Mountain Bike Radio podcast.
We look forward to seeing your photos and hearing your stories from Borderlands trails and community visits in the months ahead. Happy riding!
Borderlands funders include USDA Rural Development, the Northern Border Regional Commission, the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, and federal funds under award 01-79-14768 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.