The Hippo


May 26, 2020








The expert’s favorite trails

Larry Keniston, bicycle pedestrian coordinator for the state: “My four boys just love to go up to the Franconia Notch bike path. It’s received a lot of criticism for a lot of reasons, but just be in control of your family and have your children stay with you, and it’s an absolute blast. There’s a lot of steep grades and sharp curves.”
Dave Topham, founder and director of the Bike-Walk Alliance of NH: “I live in Salem, so I take rides northeast from here on backroads up to Kingston. Going toward the waterfront, there are many good routes. The rail trail in Windham is quite accessible as well.”
Chris Yankopoulos, head service writer at Goodale’s Bike Shop in Nashua: “There’s a trail called Black Cap up in North Conway. It’s kind of a short distance but a very downhill type trail. You need to have two vehicles so one can bring you up to the top of the mountain. It’s about 20 to 30 minutes of riding.”

Fall for biking
NH bike experts talk about their favorite fall trails


 Just because the wind carries a colder bite doesn’t mean you should hang up your bike helmet just yet. 

“Fall is one of the most fun times to be out,” said Chris Yankopoulos, head service writer at Goodale’s Bike Shop in Nashua. “Mountain biking in the fall is one of the cool things about New England, because we’ve got seasons. I’ve got friends in California that brag that it’s 75 and sunny year-round, but having that kind of weather every day would be pretty boring.”
Whether you’re looking to go out for a family cruise along one of many rail trails in southern New Hampshire or you’re looking to do some more extreme biking through the woods, experts around the state have identified some of the more scenic trails that will give you a view and a workout.
Take it easy: for family rides and amateur cyclists
For beginner riders, it makes sense that wide lanes will ease the fear of a serious crash. Families with young riders are encouraged, then, to ride on multi-purpose lanes like rail trails, which, said Dave Topham, founder and director of the Bike-Walk Alliance of NH, host walkers and sometimes even horse-carriages.
“The most popular I’d say is in the southeast quadrant of Windham; there is a rail trail which connects to the Derry rail trail,” said Topham. “There’s beautiful scenery, bodies of water, beaver dams, wildlife and practically no road crossings.”
Topham said there are two key starting points in the trail. Coming down from the north, there is a spot at Hood Park in downtown Derry where riders can take a leisurely journey through into Windham, the trail being a little more than 3½ miles. For those who want to keep pedaling, or for bikers who are located farther south, the second trail starts at the Windham Depot and stretches just under 4 miles to the edge of the Salem town line.
There are plenty of other local rail trails too, including the WOW Trail in the Laconia area, the Goffstown Rail Trail, the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail and the Rockingham Trail in Manchester. Find more at 
Overcoming obstacles: for the more experienced biker
Cold rains and roads covered in wet leaves can deter some bikers as it gets later into the season.
“Fall is difficult because of the weather,” said Rob Meesig, the head of marketing at Goodale’s in Nashua. “There’s definitely a drop-off in participation because of these factors, but … there’s still something to be said for doing something that’s difficult.”
According to Meesig, who is also an experienced road cyclist, riders with a little more skill will seek out backroads to avoid leaf-peeping traffic.
“Getting to some of the towns [around New Hampshire] can be difficult with the hills involved,” said Meesig. “From here to Milford, it’s about 10, 15 miles or so, and there are roads with a couple thousand feet of climbing or a couple hundred, depending on what route you take. The one with a couple hundred feet might have more cars, so most times people out in the backroads suffer the big hills — but that’s what makes it tough and fun.”
Still, some of the busier routes in the state are picking up speed to be more bicycle-friendly. Larry Keniston, the bicycle pedestrian coordinator for the state of New Hampshire, said Fisherville Road in Concord, one of the more heavily trafficked roads in the city, has taken the steps to becoming safe enough for families to take their bikes on.
“The trail starts literally just outside the city limits,” said Keniston. “It’s U.S. Route 3, and it takes you down the road to right outside Penacook. It’s about 10 miles...and there’s parking up at the Hannah Dustin parking lot. … The city has done a wonderful job of creating bike space.”
Taking on mountains: for the expert rider
The road biking conditions could be affected by the falling leaves, but mountain bikers can find biking unpaved trails in the fall to be a challenge as well.
“With leaves falling on the ground, they pretty much cover roots and rocks, which, if they get wet, you could wash out,” said Yankopoulos. “You could ride these trails all summer long and they’ll still look completely different in the fall, which makes them dual-purpose.”
Yankopoulos said that for some riders, the trails become more exciting with these challenges. He said there’s a popular trail among more experienced riders at the Highland Mountain Bike Park in Northfield. The park used to be used for skiing, so while some of the trails translate to “green circle” in terms of difficulty, Yankopoulos said that the mountain also has its share of black diamonds.
“There’s lift access for you to take your bike to the top and ride a big single-track trail,” he said. “It’s very steep, very tight and there are a lot of rocks, but if you know what you’re doing, it’s a fun one.” 
As seen in the October 16, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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