Put those skis and snow shoes in the closet and start to think spring. Get your mountain bike out of storage – or buy one – tune it up and hit the trails. As the weather warms and the snow and mud disappear from the trails it's time to jump on your mountain bike and head out on a new adventure. Now is the time to think about a ride on the many mountain bike trails scattered throughout the Lakes Region. I'm fortunate in that I have abandoned logging and Class VI roads near my home, so I can take advantage of the opportunities these offer by just riding out of my driveway and down the road. However, there are many well marked and maintained mountain bike trails in the area such as the Northern Rail Trail that runs from Boscawen to Lebanon, Ahern State Park on the former State School property in Laconia, Ellacoya State Park in Gilford, Franklin Falls in Franklin, Highland Mountain Park in Tilton, and Page Pond Conservation Forest in Meredith. There are also many others located throughout the state. One of the most popular of these is Bear Brook State Park.
As I began to think about spring riding I recalled two rides I had this past December, before winter weather hit: Ramblin' Vewe Farm on Morrill Street in Gilford and the Meredith Community Forest on Jenness Hill Road in Meredith. Both areas provide moderate challenges, yet the terrain is negotiable with a little effort.
According to its website, "The Ramblin' Vewe Farm Trust is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to protect and preserve Ramblin' Vewe Farm, conserve the heritage of working farms and rural landscapes, foster educational and recreational activities and create trails to connect people, communities and the land." The farm has been in operation since 1987 and maintains a flock registered purebred sheep. 245 acres of the property have been set aside for forestry and recreation. This tract of woodlands has an extensive trail system that can be used for walking, skiing, snow shoeing and mountain biking. There is even a store on the property to purchase meat, eggs, vegetables and other locally raised products.
On a clear, crisp, late fall day Reuben and I drove to the trail head and met up with a couple of friends, Steve and Bob, for a morning ride. It was my first time biking at Ramblin' Vewe, so I was anxious to explore as many of the trails as possible. The trail system has both double track and single track trails that provide a variety of challenging terrain. We mostly followed the double track system, but did veer off occasionally onto the single track trails. The trail system winds its way over old stone walls, past ancient abandoned farm equipment, and even along the hillside that once was used for downhill skiing. The rope tow system made up of wheel hubs and an old car engine are still visible along the trail. There are also other old farm artifacts scattered along the trail that remind us that this land was once cleared and farmed as pasture. From a high point there is a scenic view that overlooks the farm and the hills beyond. It was a delightful day, riding with friends and acquainting myself with this wonderful recreational resource.
Since my appetite was whetted by the ride at Ramblin' Vewe Farm, I was anxious to get on my bike again, for another ride, sensing that snow would be on the ground very soon. A few days later, along with Steve, we headed off to another trail system closer to home, The Meredith Community Forest. This is one of four forested recreation areas in Meredith that are managed by the Meredith Conservation Commission. The day was mild, but wet, as a rain storm the day before had pelted the area. The trails were wet and muddy and layers of leaves covered the ground. The route we selected, blazed red, ran over varied terrain of hills and marshes and we were provided with a ride filled with thrills and spills. From the parking lot we followed an old tote road that plunged into the forest and through an area dominated by marsh and wet lands. Reuben, as always, found a beaver pond where he could swim and came out a changed color: going from yellow to a muddy black. We continued to follow the red trail, heading north to higher and dryer terrain. We gradually made our way onto a single track trail that had Steve and me huffing and puffing up a hill, sometimes having to walk our bikes. Reuben of course just pranced alongside, urging us ahead, and wondering why we were so slow. We made our way back to the parking lot along a series of trails that are also used by snow mobiles and cross country skiers in winter. The trail system is well marked and at the parking lot is a trail map located on the kiosk.
I look forward to pulling my bike out of storage this week and getting it tuned up for another round of rides over the next several months. As you begin to plan your first ride, remember to pull your helmet out of storage also. Never ride without head protection. Always be prepared for weather changes, carry extra clothing, water, insect repellent, and repair kit. Bike safely and enjoy the many trails in the Lakes Region that await you.
Gordon DuBois and Bob Manley at trail head of R.V. Farm
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