Rolling to Rollo, a Pedal under the Presidentials

The Presidential Rail Trail

This weekend we dusted off our bicycles, packed our day packs and headed down to the local rail trail.  The closest rail trail to us happens to be just down the street: Presidential Rail Trail.  We’ve biked the section in Gorham, NH several times, but we were interested in checking out the section from Appalachia parking lot and west toward Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge.  So we put the bikes in the back of the truck and drove to the Appalachia parking lot. 

Biking along a rail trail is an easy ride since the grade is level or almost level, a left over from when trains actually used the corridor, and good on the legs for the first ride of the season.  Rail trails are also good places to view the scenery and wildlife.  We saw several spring azure butterflies and listened to the birds as we pedaled along.  The rain last week had made the trail soft in some places and we followed turkey and moose tracks for quite a ways.   Pedaling past some wetlands we craned our necks searching for a glimpse of the active beaver and basking turtles.

Lindsay biking along the rail trail.

Andrew pauses at a bridge on the Presidential Rail Trail.

Amazing views of the water pouring down off the north side of the Presidential Range.

At the next parking area along Route 2 (Castle Hiking Trail), we veered off the rail trail on a side adventure to Rollo Fall.  We biked up the private drive (what Keep Out sign ?) and stashed our bikes behind a tree gate.  The Fall could be seen from a small opening in the forest and we hiked up to it for a better view.  We spooked a woodcock, probably probing the soft ground near the brook for earthworms.   The spring ephemerals were in full bloom: purple and painted trilliums, trout lilies, sessile bellwort, and wood anemone delicately colored the forest floor.

Andrew refers to his map as we venture off the rail trail in search of Rollo Fall.

Rollo Fall is easily seen in the early Spring.

Rollo Fall

Andrew clinging with all his might!

Believe it or not, this is the “best” shot out of 15 as we tried to get a pic of us on either side of Rollo Fall.

Painted Trillium

Trout Lilies

Andrew and our stashed bikes.

We ate a quick snack and then headed back down to our bikes to continue our westward pedal.  From this point on we were in the Connecticut River watershed and the water flowed next to us in the picturesque Israel River.  After passing through a quiet neighborhood in Jefferson, we stopped for a break and revisited the map.  We were about 1/2 way to Pondicherry and without enough supplies, we knew we should turn around.  We would have to continue along the Israel River to Pondicherry another time.

Lindsay pedaling along.

The Israel River meanders along beneath the awesome view.

On the ride back we thought up a list of things our bikes needed done at the brand new bike shop in town: Porky Gulch.  In addition to spring tune ups, Andrew needed new brakes and Lindsay wanted new hand grips.  We played a game to see how far you could coast until we finally made it back to the truck after 12 miles.  We hope that all our readers are getting outside and enjoying the spring awakening!

Spectacular views from the Presidential Rail Trail.

3 thoughts on “Rolling to Rollo, a Pedal under the Presidentials

  1. Pack accordingly for the long ride into Pondicherry and retry it this Saturday, May 12th. It is International Migratory Bird Day at the Refuge!

  2. Yet another awesome adventure! I have also been to Rollo Falls, but in recent times you guys and me might be among only a handful of visitors. Guess the trail to the falls had to be abandoned once parcels of surrounding land fell into private hands. Anyway, as you might already know, back in the early 20th century, the Randolph Mountain Club used the Rollo Falls location as one of their venues for their annual picnic. If you scroll through the link below, you will see mention of this.


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