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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, September 26, 2011

FOMBA to Bear Brook Ride

I was talking to a fellow mountain bike rider in Horse Hill a few weeks ago and he mentioned riding from FOMBA in Auburn to Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. I've seen the snowmobile trail signs around FOMBA, some mentioning Bear Brook but I never really paid attention to them. I pretty much just rode the mountain bike specific single track that FOMBA is famous for. After doing a little research and recruiting a few riders (Chris, Brayden and Dan), I put together a rough plan.We'd drop a vehicle at Bear Brook and start the ride at FOMBA. I had planned 3-4hrs of riding based on pretty much nothing. Originally I had planned to ride a few miles of single track at FOMBA first but Chris astutely pointed out we could ride there anytime. Lets save the riding for Bear Brook instead. Shortly before 10am we headed out.

So, how do you get there you ask? Well, turns out those snowmobile folks have quite the trail network, and do a decent job with signage (but lack in posting online maps). Starting from the Depot Rd parking lot at FOMBA, we rode the fire roads northeast until it crosses the Rockingham Rail Trail. The primary reason for this was to check out all the signage at this intersection. It's here that you'll see a sign saying "Bear Brook" this way. Otherwise, if you just ride up Depot Rd for a 1/4 mile or so, the trail actually crosses there, saving some riding time.

FOMBA to Bear Brook Map

 The main corridor (aka trail) going north/south is called Trail 15. We picked it up on the north side of Tower Hill Pond. There were lots of snowmobile trails along the way. The problem was they were just numbers (Trail 6, Trail 12, etc..). Without a snowmobile trail-specific map, they were useless (and like I said earlier, they apparently don't publish their maps online). So we kept riding until we saw the sign for Trail 15N (about 4.5miles in).

Trail 15N would take us all the way into Bear Brook (and Canada if you kept on following it north). For the most part it was very easy to follow. We got hung up for a few minutes when we came across the only paved road we had to cross (Rt27, about 7.5 miles in) because we missed a turn on the powerlines and came out on the road, but not where the trail actually crosses. A little local help got us back on track.

Elevation Profile from FOMBA to Bear Brook
There was some standing water on the trails from a few days of heavy rain but generally the trail offered some great riding (but it does climb steadily going north). Around 9.5miles Trail 15N turned left onto the Chester Turnpike. It was neither in Chester nor a Turnpike (but is on the map). I'd call it a very rugged dirt road at best. After about a mile though we'd finally make the right turn into the southwest corner of Bear Brook (roughly 10 miles into our ride). Although not signed, this section on the Bear Brook Trail Map was called Lost Trail Extension. From there we followed the Ferret Trail around the west side of Bear Hill Pond. After 13 miles of riding, we would finally hit our first section of single track in Bear Brook State Park!



The first trail we hit was the Ledges Hedgehog trail. An excellent, scenic trail through some incredible boulder fields. Seriously technical however. Lots of stone steps to ascend and descend. From there we took a dreadful trail called the Lowland Trail ( I think). Lots of blowdowns, and huge sections completely submerged. It was wet, slow and not much of anything. It eventually brought us around Hayes Marsh (about 15 miles of riding).
At Hayes Marsh we decided on the Carr Ridge Trail. After looking at the map, we came up with a rough plan to head north until we hit the Bear Brook Trail, and then head southeast to our car on Podunk Rd. Up and over what I would guess was Carr Ridge. A somewhat technical but excellent single track trail. The descent was a nicely flowing, fast switchback ride all the way down to the Bear Brook Trail.
Another excellent trail, and as the name implies, the trail followed right along Bear Brook. I think we got off trail a few times near the water but we eventually would pick it up again and continued all the way to the hiker/biker lot on Podunk Rd. It was a solid 2 miles of nice single track riding.
In total we rode for 2hrs 40 minutes, covering roughly 18 miles. This was my first time into Bear Brook and I can't wait to go back!

2 comments:

Laurel said...

The Bear Brook Trail map is very inaccurate. To get onto the really great mountain biking trails, you have to have someone show you around... or come work at a trail day or attend NEMBA fast this Fall for some lead rides. We are heading out there today so Kevin can ride. Right now I am unable to ride due to an arm injury, but the running will be great!

Steve Wolfe said...

As inaccurate as it may be, it was the only means we had to navigate to our car :-) The main reason why I've never ridden at Bear Brook is the reason you mentioned: I wanted someone who's been there to show me around. Just hasn't happened yet, that's all. Have fun at Bear Brook today!