Portions of Lakes Country have, like any popular vacation area, succumbed to Tourist Trap Syndrome, a nasty infection of gift shops, mini-golf courses, and garish theme restaurants. Sure, these blighted areas hold a certain fascination for visiting cyclists (where else are you going to get a good latte?), but it's tough to find good off-road riding there. Mountain biking demands sacrifice. Turn away from the neon! Look to the hills!
This ride gets you away from the hubbub and onto some good back roads in the neighborhood of Blue Job Mountain State Forest (and Rochester's municipal drinking-water supply). New Hampshire isn't exactly famous for good farmland, but it does actually have some, and you'll see it along the way, too. If you're eager for more after finishing the loop, try exploring the numerous other dirt roads to the west and south (Barn Door Gap, Evans Mountain, and Parker Mountain are nearby spots to look for more riding).
General location: Farmington (6 miles west of Rochester)
Elevation change: About 400 feet of elevation gain
Season: Late spring through fall
Services: All services are available in Rochester.
Hazards: Watch for light traffic on traveled roads.
Rescue index: You are within a mile of traveled roads or inhabited areas at all times.
Land status: Public roads
Maps: Page 37 of DeLorme's New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer. Also see Baxter Lake quadrangle, USGS 7.5 minute series.
Finding the trail: From Rochester, take NH 202A about 2 miles to Meaderboro Corner and turn right onto Meaderboro Road. Drive for about 3 miles. At the intersection with Cross Road (where the road surface becomes dirt), continue straight and park along the wide, secluded portion of road just beyond.
Source of additional information: Wheel Power, 183 Water Street, Exeter, NH 03833, (603) 772-6343.
Notes on the trail: From your parking spot, ride back to the intersection and turn right onto Cross Road. You'll soon see a reservoir on your right; just after it, turn right onto a four-wheel-drive road (Sheepboro Road). When you reach the first T intersection, turn left. Climb along the slope of Blue Job Mountain and turn right at the next T intersection, to follow the dirt road. A third T intersection is about 0.7 mile beyond; turn right again. This unmaintained dirt road carries you through a conservation easement on the other side of Blue Job, and down to Meaderboro Road. Turn right and continue straight for the remainder of the ride to return to the starting point.
View: Trail Map
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication