Where? North Haverhill, MA. What? Winnie Kinnie State Forest (yes that really is the name). Why? Mountain Biking. Jammed in between New Hampshire and two sides of north Haverhill, MA is a small state forest that offers a wide range of terrain for riding. I have been riding there awhile (almost once a week) since the first week of June and while it is small (trailwise about 8 miles or so but not all ridable) the park still offers up a lot of different terrain and is good for every level of rider except for long distance types, because it simply isn't big enough. That said, I went out and took way too many pictures to jam into one article so I picked out what I thought was best to cover the track I usually do.
Starting off I go over a small wooded rises that is criss crossed with roots and rocks. It is a good start because it is small. When I come down off of it there is a small land bridge over a small set of ponds (pictured above along with the trash some asshole left behind (yes I picked it up)). Which leads to a water side trail shown below.
The waterside trail has a mix of interesting things ranging from great slide out spots (is that a thing?) to little jumpable bumps here and there. The path is wildly inconsistent meaning some stretches one can blast flat out over it and others are crowded with rocks. It does take a lot of attention especially on the downslopes. People are also an issue. On weekends, idiots, like to walk in large groups with or without their dogs/kids/whatever blocking the entire path. Several times I have had to stop and wait for the traffic jam to disperse. Otherwise it is a fun trail which I think is entry level but I could be wrong (I usually am).
Now, the picture above shows one of several interesting features along the main trail. I don't know what this is called in mountain bike terms but in skating terms that would be transition. It is bigger than it looks (and I am not just saying that because I am a guy), the bank is about three feet high and is relatively easy to go up and out of from either direction. There are two of these on the main trail one is much smaller. Also along the trail are small off shoot trails that go up and down steep banks (about 4 or 5 of these I have found so far) that are really fun.
The peak of the trail is super nice and super hard to get to from either direction. I still have to walk three sections of the climb up but it is totally worth it. Getting to it and getting back takes me about an hour so sometimes I have to wear a camel back depending on the heat. Now, here is the kicker, that isn't the highest point in the park. Behind me in the picture above a narrow trail (not maintained, I think it might be a game trail) goes up to the actual peak. I haven't worked up the constitution to try it yet. In addition to that I have yet to explore the eastern side of the park. The trails look impassable for mountain bikes from what I have seen so far so I am not sure I will ever get to that.
And now the come down from the trail peak. The picture above is just a small taste of the insanity of the trail. It is basically a streambed most of the way littered with rocks, tree roots, ditches, fallen timbers and all sorts of mayhem. What you can't do is build up a ton of speed so if you like high speed downhill MTB - this is not the trail you were looking for -but if you like a bone rattling technical challenge this trail definitely fits the bill. Ironically only the lower half is like this from the trail peak which kinda sucks. The top half coming back down is all smooth dirt where I was able to pick up a lot of speed then had to slow down when I got to the moonscape section.
What you don't get, unless you go out after a rainstorm, is a lot of mud. I am not much of a mud guy on downhill terrain. I don't mind it on relatively flat terrain. At this park, there is a lot of dry dirt and sand patches. No worries the sand patches are not deep at all. But also there are a lot of small steep ups and downs which are problematic for me if there is a lot of mud, basically losing speed going up the grades. If you are a local and a mudder might I suggest Mill Pond in West Newbury or Maudslay in Newburyport.
I can't wait to nail this place when the air cools and the leaves start to turn. Most likely I will have a huge pile of pictures to go through when that happens and I would like, I do not know if I will, get progressive pictures of the leaves turning from various points along the trail.