North Shore and Merrimack Valley NEMBA Team Up to Build Singletrack in Downtown Haverhill

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When mountain biker and Haverhill resident, Jeff Wardle, first contacted the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) about building singletrack trail near downtown Haverhill, the group got excited. The City of Haverhill is a rough and tumble old mill town still trying to re-invent itself, so the idea of improving mountainb bike riding in the heart of the city is a win-win for everyone.

With the help of Haverhill City Councilor, Thomas Sullivan, and the support of the city’s Conservation Commission, Forest Management Committee, and Haverhill Trails Committee, the project quickly gained momentum.  Conservation officer Robert Moore and Trails Committee Chair Mark Sheehan offered their expertise and approval for the project.

Winnekenni Park is a 700-acre park along the shores of Lake Kenoza off Route 495 Exit 52 in Haverhill. There are a number of pre-existing trails that are poorly designed and negatively impacting the lake, which is the City’s primary drinking water supply.  Wardle invited NEMBA to partner with city officials and the Haverhill Trails Committee to come up with a plan to add new sustainable trails to replace badly eroded paths.

North Shore and Merrimack Valley trail designers, Frank Lane, Dan Streeter and Kirk Goldsworthy designed a half mile descent from Winnekenni Castle, and on April 13th, 21 volunteers came out to help with the build. Volunteers were impressed to see their event posted on the large sign approaching the Castle.

Councilor Sullivan, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Winnekenni Foundation, offered his support of the project and even allowed the volunteers the use of Winnekenni Castle for a lunch of pizza donated by a local pizzeria.

“The Winnekenni Foundation and City of Haverhill welcome NEMBA to Winnekenni Park anytime.  We look forward to a strong partnership to improve existing trails and create new trails for many years to come”, commented Councilor Sullivan.

There is increasing community support to improve the trails, and the New England Mountain Bike Association hopes to continue to help build more sustainable trails at the park. There are approvals in the works for more trailbuilding in the Kenoza Lake area as well as in the watershed land around nearby Millvale Reservoir. Currently there are about 10 miles of trail, and it is the group’s goal to increase both the quality and the mileage of the trail system.

“Having access to trails near downtown Haverhill is a beautiful thing,” says NEMBA’s Director, Philip Keyes. “This will be a wonderful amenity for local families, especially since they won’t need a car to escape the city to find great trails and a bit of nature.”

Stay tuned for more trail building information  in the fall.

Here's a link to a follow-up newspaper article that appeared in the Eagle Tribune, August 12, 2014.