Staying occupied these days is a feat of its own. Luckily, you can still maintain your distance (and proper COVID hygiene practices) during almost every summer outdoor activity. I’ve found biking to be one of the best forms of quarantine activities because it gets you out of the house and moving, plus you’re able to maintain a good distance from others. If you’re getting tired of the same trails in Boston, and have test driven the endurance of your legs during a couple bike trips close to home, pack up the car and try your two-wheeling skills on a mountain bike trail. These trails near Boston are good for both beginner and more advanced riders. Whichever category you fall under though, be sure to wear a helmet, go slow, carry your bike when necessary, preserve the terrain, ride in small groups, and make sure every encounter on the trail is a positive one.
This 600-acre state park is located in Needham and protects one of the largest freshwater marshes on the Charles River. Bikers can access two single track loops on the property, Blue Heron and Cutler Park Pump Track, which are great for intermediate riders. But the area has many other offshoot trails to explore as well. Beginners and families can also access wider dirt roads around the lake.
You’ve probably been out to Blue Hills to hike, but this time try some of the trails on bike—just remember hikers do have the right of way, so go slow and be prepared to stop respectfully. There are mountain bike specific trails marked in black. Try the loops around Houghton’s Pond and Ponkapoag Pond.
Located just north of the city in Belmont, this 59-acre reservation has about seven miles of trails for all abilities, including advanced single track and intermediate options, as well as good beginner trails through the meadows and surrounding area.
Save this park for the weekend, as there’s much to explore in its nearly 4,000 acres. If you’re down for an extended stay, you can even reserve a camp site within the park. The riding throughout the park is extremely varied, but you’ll find yourself jumping over logs and riding over rocks frequently, so make sure you’re well-rested. Take one of the five routes to the top of Prospect Hill, where you can take one of the longest sections of switchbacked single tracks in the state.
This park is great for a family affair, of both bikers and non-bikers alike, as there are Native American sites to explore as well as an active dairy farm with tours on the weekends. The park features more than 20 miles of trails for all riding abilities. However, most trails will be great for beginners.
This Tustees-owned reservation is a great place for beginner mountain bikers. There are well-marked, color-coded trails for bikers to access from the parking lot: Yellow, Blue, and Red. Each one is a double track, making it great for kiddos and less daring individuals. There are also some fun single tracks at the back of the reservation, as well as other interesting features to test your chops on. A tag is required to ride here, though, so stop by the Ranger Kiosk for one when it is open. They are free.
Noon Hill in Medfield has multiple loops to practice on. The reservation is a Trustees property and is also great for beginners. There are about eight miles of trails to explore and a steep climb to the top of the 370-foot hill to enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. Take the loop around Holt Pond and ride along the edge of the Charles.
With 35 miles of trails, 11 ponds, and a dozen campsites, head just north of the city to Andover for a weekend camping getaway with your bike in tow, because at least a few days will be needed to explore this state park. Some of the single tracks are the best in the region. The white-blazed Bay Circuit trail links to nearby Charles Ward Reservation for a long and enjoyable ride.
This relatively small forest has many great trails for intermediate riders as well as a couple more for advanced riders. The Gilson Hill side of the park contains more high quality trails and single tracks combining together for a fun loop. The Northern Loop is also one to try. Be aware, though: There is no designated parking. Most riders get there from parking at Russell Mill Town Forest or limited spots along Rangeway Road.
For those really trying to get into the sport, there are a couple additional things to know. The New England Mountain Bike Association is a great place for resources including trail guidelines and rules, trail maintenance, group rides, and events. You can also become a member for additional perks. Right now, operations are a little different due to COVID, so check their website. Also, for more advanced riders, or those wanting to fine-tune their skills a little bit, the New England area has multiple mountain bike parks to explore. Keene Mountain Bike park in New Hampshire is one of them, as well as Highland Mountain Bike park. Both offer a wide array of well-maintained pump tracks, lessons, and features to practice new skills. Once again, check their websites for updated COVID regulations. Some of the ski resorts, like Mount Snow in Vermont, also offer thrilling downhill mountain biking. This year might be different due to COVID, but if you’re looking to take the next step in your mountain biking adventure, check out the surrounding ski areas for lift access trails.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2020/07/09/mountain-bike-trails-boston/
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