Bear Brook State Park
Bear Brook State Park consists of nearly 10,000 acres and is the largest developed state park in NH. Amenities include swimming, camping, fishing and group picnic areas. It's 40 miles of trails accommodate biking, hiking, horse back riding and include x-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. The park was the site of the original town of Allenstown. In the late 1800's, the park area had been completely logged to supply the mills in the Suncook area. The population shifted to the western part of the town and in 1935, Bear Brook was selected for development as a recreational demonstration area. At that time, almost 25% of the New Hampshire population lived within a 15-mile radius. The Civilian Conservation Corps, in the mid to late 1930's, built many of the park structures you see today. As you travel the park, you will notice many remnants of the old town; stone foundations, cemeteries and dams are scattered through out.
The riding here can accommodate all abilities. Trails consist of dirt roads, double track, single track as well as numerous natural features for extra fun. This is what makes Bear Brook a great time. You can ride easy on Podunk road or push yourself to the limit on Catamount Hill.
Beginner Loop: 6 Miles
From the parking lot, go back up the hill you drove in on, to the paved road. Go straight across and take the snowmobile trail on the left. Bear left at the “Y” intersection and follow the Pitch Pine Trail (crossing the snowmobile trail once) until you come to the archery range and the fishing pond.
Head out towards the road and take a left onto the snowmobile trail just before the paved road (which leads to the campground). Follow this trail, which runs parallel to the paved road, and take the second trail on the right. Follow 50 yards to the paved road. When you come to the paved road, bear right and cross it and continue on the Pitch Pine Trail. At the junction of Broken Boulder Trail turn left. Shortly, there is a wide trail on the right which circles over to the Smith Pond Shelter. Take a look! Rejoin Broken Boulder Trail until the next trail junction, appearing on the right.
This is Bobcat Trail which you will follow all the way to Podunk Road across from Hayes Field.
At this point you have two options; the easiest way is to go down Podunk Road back to the parking lot, the second way, which is more challenging, is to take Little Bear from Hayes Field.
So, if you choose Little Bear, enter the field and take the trail on the right just after the outhouses. When you get to the dirt road, cross it and pass by the gate and take the trail on the right. Keep left at the top of the small hill and follow the trail to the end. (CAUTION…the trail can get very fast going downhill!)
Ignore the trail on the left at the bottom of the big downhill… keep right. Take a left on the road (One Mile Trail) and a right back to the parking lot.
Intermediate Loop: 14 Miles
Follow the beginner loop ride description until you reach the junction of Broken Boulder and Bobcat (marked with +++++). At this point, continue on Broken Boulder. At the paved road, you must go left for a hundred yards (passing the “broken boulder”) before the trail continues on the right. Follow to the end.
Now turn right onto Podunk Road (dirt) and follow to the intersection where the road to the 4-H camp begins.
Continue down Podunk for a couple of hundred yards and catch Ferret Trail on the left. Follow Ferret and pass the Bear Hill Summit trail on the right. Go down hill and there will be a path shortly on the left to Bear Pond (small sign). Stop for lunch and a swim. It is one of the best spots in the park!
Back out turning left on Ferret. Shortly Hedgehog Ledge will appear on the right. Follow this trail to the end. (CAUTION…this trail has some very technical granite steps. Extreme care should be taken! The first set comes up quickly after you leave the area that was logged and begin to head downhill.)
After the trail levels out, you want to go right at the “T” intersection and soon will go through an open area they used for staging logs. You will come to Podunk Road again. (The park map shows the Bear Hill Trail intersecting Hedgehog, but it does not. It comes out on Podunk Road).
Turn left on Podunk and go to Hayes Field.Head into the field and go to the far end. Turn left onto Carr Ridge (no sign) through another section recently
logged. Continue straight on Carr Ridge crossing Hayes Farm Trail and Sentinel Pine.
Continue on Carr Ridge for a couple of miles. You will come to some steep downhill, washed out sections. At
the bottom of these Carr Ridge ends and meets Cascade.
Go right on Cascade to the end. At the bottom, there are a set of log stairs that are rideable but challenging. Go easy on the front brake!
Directly across from the stairs is Bear Brook trail. This section of trail is usually wet and best avoided by turning right, after going down the stairs and catching the trail about 200 yards on the left, just before the road turns right and goes up a hill.
Follow the trail and bear right at the brook. Do not cross the brook on that nasty looking pallet bridge. You will ride the side slope of the hill on some benched trail. Follow to the end.
Turn left onto the road and a quick right back to the parking area.
Advanced Loop: 17 Miles
Follow the intermediate loop ride description until you get to the junction of Carr Ridge and Cascade (marked with ####).Take a left on Cascade and follow the left side of the brook. When you come to a log bridge, cross it and continue up the hill to the next intersection. (The trail sign will say “Catamount Hill Trail” although other places it refers to “Cascade Trail”).
At the junction of Sentinel Pine, continue straight and follow to the next “T” intersection.
Cascade continues to the left to the summit of Catamount Hill. (The trail to the right is Short Cut. If you want to bail, take this trail back down to One Mile Trail and turn right). There is a short hike a bike section with lots of rock and boulders.
At the top, the trail continues to the right. It crosses over some granite slabs for a bit and then heads down. Use extreme caution! There are a few steep rocky sections. Go to the end, ignoring a trail intersection, along the smooth downhill section.
Turn right on to One Mile Trail (a dirt road). When you get to the log stairs on the right (Cascade Trail), follow the directions for the intermediate ride (marked with ******)
Another good intermediate ride starts from the hiker / biker parking lot. Some of the trails in this area are a lot of fun. Head over to Pitch Pine, Saltlick and Bobcat for a nice warm up Rolling double track will get the blood flowing. Continue over to Broken Boulder to step things up a bit. A little climbing never hurt anyone. Increase your output while you get those legs burning as you climb Bear Hill. Watch out for the red ant hills! On a hot day, a ride down Ferret to Bear Pond for a quick secluded swim is always refreshing. Get back in the groove with a fast trip down Hedgehog Ledge. The granite steps will gets the heart pumping. From Hayes Field, Carr Ridge brings you through the heart of the park. This rolling single track highlights what is best about the area. Natural rock features and a quick surface will test your skills. Heading back via the Bear Brook Trail takes advantage of previous trail work along the river. Nice benched trail shows what good trail work can produce. Finish your ride with a scream. Heading down Little Bear back to the parking lot, will always leave a smile on your face.
The "Mountain Bike" parking lot is up Podunk Rd. Allentown on the right.
Exit 9N onto Route 3/28 North and follow signs to Bear Brook State Park.
Route 4 West to Route 28 South and follow signs to Bear Brook State Park.
This ride is adapted from "Get out and Mountain Bike! Southern New Hampshire".
© Copyright 2005
By Peter DeSantis & Beth Woodbury