This weekend Lindsay attended an Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust event in Bethlehem, NH. The event was also co-sponsored by the Bethlehem Trails Association and the Bethlehem Conservation Commission (Lindsay representing this last group).
We parked on the side of Swazey Lane in Bethlehem, NH and walked back across Route 302 toward a little patch of woods. Recently the Bethlehem Trails Association (which is really a mountain bike club) gained permission from the landowner to create trails here. Lindsay was excited to learn about a new place to get outside, but was quickly reminded why mountain bike trails don’t make good hiking trails. We hiked and blogged about this a few years ago (Mountain Bike Trails Make for Long Hiking Trails).
The group of around 25 people started to wind their way through the trails. Mountain bikes trails are created for biking fun, so there are lots of switchbacks, twists and turns, that essentially use all of the available ground for a single-track trail. This trail popped us out onto a snowmobile trail and then back into the woods for more twists and turns, another short walk down the groomed and moderately used snowmobile trail, and back into the woods.
As far as mountain biking trails, this is probably a great one. There didn’t seem to be any obstacles or dramatic elevation changes, and it might be perfect for beginner riders. The trails are open for all recreation users, but the reality is that mountain bike trails are no fun for walkers. What took us 1.5 miles to cover, could have been a straight .5 mile hike. The trailhead isn’t signed yet, nor are the trails clearly marked (although 25 people just snowshoed it!). The spirit of having this be a multi-use trail isn’t wrong, but this trail is probably best served for mountain bikers.