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.
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.
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.
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!