Northern CT

Submit Comments to Support Connecticut Mountain Biking

Friday, December 15, 2017

Action Alert – Mountain Bikers should Submit Comments Supporting Mountain Biking and More Trail Access to Connecticut’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

 

Comments must be submitted by Friday, December 28th.

 

Email comments to:

Mail comments to: DEEP SCORP c/o Doug Jann, Environmental Analyst, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, 79 Elm Street Hartford, CT 06106.

Connecticut’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) provides a five-year plan and vision for outdoor recreation. As such, it’s important for mountain biking to be highlighted and promoted in the plan where it is severely lacking at this time. We urge NEMBA members and riders at large to send in comments supporting mountain biking and increased multi-use trail development and access for bikes.

In order to help you submit comments, we are providing a few bullet points you can copy and paste into your response or incorporate into your own words:

1) Increase and improve on the quality of the singletrack trail inventory in the Connecticut state park system. Trail-based recreation needs a larger inventory of quality multi-use trails throughout the state. Increased funding for trail development is important. However, it is equally important to increase the partnerships with trail advocacy organizations, such as NEMBA, to create and maintain new multi-use singletrack trail opportunities.

2) Increase the multi-use singletrack trail connectivity between DEEP Forests and Parks, municipal and private land trusts properties, and water company lands. i.e.: Burlington area trails can be used to interconnect different singletrack trail networks.

3) Create and expand long distance commuter trails that connect different communities and multi-use trail systems to promote environmentally friendly commuting and expand upon economical impacts from trail users. Trails, such as the Airline Trail, Hop River Trail, Richard Goodwin Trail are important connectors to build upon.

4) Increase accessibility for mountain biking on multi-use trails through improved parking lots and trail marking/mapping for trail systems. Modernize and increase wayfinding technology by creating supporting mobile map apps and improving signage and maps. Work on signage that works for all trail users.

5) Increase promotion of outdoor recreation, outdoor events and partner organizations on DEEP’s website to increase local trail use and trail use tourism. Work with NEMBA to identify trail systems that are mountain biking friendly and to promote multi-use trail development across town lines. Read more about [node:title]

Connecticut's NEMBA Chapters respond to Hartford Courant Article

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Below is a Letter to the Editor to the Hartford Courant regarding their September 21, 2016 article "Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem" written by NEMBA and its five Connecticut NEMBA chapters.

---------------------

Hartford Courant
Letters to the Editor
285 Broad St.
Hartford, CT 06115

September 22, 2016

Dear Editors of the Hartford Courant,

Below is a response written by five Connecticut chapters of the New England Mountain Bike Association regarding Gregory Hladky's September 21, 2016 article, "Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem." We hope that you publish it in its entirety.

Mountain bikers can be part of the solution

We thank Gregory Hladky for reporting on some of the important issues facing our state forests and public lands in Connecticut, “Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem.” Indeed, there is a delicate balance between preserving and protecting habitat and providing public access for recreation, and illegal trail use and trail building are serious issues.

The New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) works closely with the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to steward public trails and improve the quality of trail experience for non-motorized recreation. We have five active NEMBA chapters in Connecticut whose volunteers dedicate 1000’s of hours to maintain trails and educate and assist all trail users. When issues arise that relate to mountain biking, we work closely with local land managers to find solutions. NEMBA opposes unauthorized trail building and works in partnership with DEEP to create legal and sustainable trails. Like hiking, mountain biking is a sustainable and legitimate form of recreation in Connecticut’s state forests and parks.

Unauthorized trail construction is a significant problem but it is nothing new -- probably over half of the state’s trail inventory are legacy trails that were created by informal use. Enforcement is important to help prevent illegal trail building, but perhaps even more important is the need for DEEP to partner with non-motorized trail organizations, such as NEMBA, to improve the quality and quantity of recreational trails so that the general public doesn’t take matters into their own hands. We need both the stick and the carrot.

It is our experience that increasing the amount of legitimate trail use reduces the amount of illegal trail use, and we look forward to increasing our partnership with local land managers to improve and protect the trails for everyone.

Philip Keyes
Executive Director
New England Mountain Bike Association
www.nemba.org
800-576-3622

Cory Stiff
President
Southeastern CT NEMBA

Glenn Vernes
President
Central CT NEMBA

Jon Regan
President
Northwest CT NEMBA

Ryan Tucker
President
Fairfield County NEMBA

Stacey Jimenez
President
Quiet Corner NEMBA

Northern CT

Bigelow Hollow SPark / Nipmuck SForest, Union

Route 171
Union  Connecticut  06076
United States

Easy

10%

Moderate

30%

Difficult

60%

Description

Bigelow Hollow, You'll either love it or you'll hate it. Hidden in the Nipmuck State Forest you'll find some of the tightest, hardpacked, flowy singletrack that New England has to offer. But to find that you will have to ride through some hardcore rock gardens and up steep hills. These rock gardens are not only tricky because of the rock placement but also because they are always damp, even in an August drought.

Want a 3.5 hour loop that'll make your legs turn to Jell-O but will leave your heart wanting more? Drive down the paved park road from the Park Entrance to the 3rd Parking Lot. From there head strait accross the road and follow the white blazed double track park road for 1 mile until you come to a clearing where you will see a small wooden sign with a white blaze that is labeled "East Ridge Trail" follow that. At the conclusion of the East Ridge Trail you will come down a steep down hill that you will want good brakes for. Take a right onto the double track and follow that around the tip of "Breakneck Pond". After that look for "Ridge Trail" which is blazed with Blue and Orange. Warning: one section of that trail is a hike a bike section unless you are a highly skilled trials rider. Follow the Ridge Trail all the way back to the parking lot where you began, but dont forget to enjoy the view along the way. Bonus points if you can find the rabbit rock, a section of slick rock with a small rabbit carved into it.

Directions
I-84 to Exit 73 or 74, then follow Route 190 north to Route 171 east to the park entrance

Review by: David Julien Read more about [node:title]

Local Shops

Downtown Putnam Cyclery

Links to Relevant Resources

Northern CT

West Thompson Lake Dam, N Grosvenordale

599 Ravenelle Rd
North Grosvenordale  Connecticut  06255
United States

(860) 923-2982

Easy

50%

Moderate

40%

Difficult

10%

Description

The natural setting surrounding West Thompson Lake is enjoyed year-round. Pleasing views from the dam offer sightseers and photographers a panoramic view of the area. Park Rangers manage the 1,857 acres, in which the forest covers approximately 1,125 of those acres.

There are three main trail systems at West Thompson Lake; yellow, orange and blue. All-in-all there are 17 miles of marked trails to enjoy. While the single track trails range from novice to advanced in areas, there are plenty of cart roads and double track sections that are great for beginners, kids, families and casual riders. 

Parking on the east side of West Thompson Lake is at the Boat Launch at 400 Campground Dr. North Grosverndale, CT.
  Read more about [node:title]

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Quiet Corner NEMBA's Sunday Weekend Warrior Ride

Friday, April 18, 2014

Start time and location varies. Ride typically takes place on Sunday, but may change to Saturday due to weather or ride location. Details for each week's ride are posted in the Chapter's Facebook Group Forum.

If you are looking to get out in the woods, have some fun, and stretch your skills, feel free to join us. The group will stop to play on skinnies, drops and other features along the way.

If you are looking for fast paced, high mileage, smooth single track, this is probably not the ride for you.

Sample Locations:

Bigelow Hollow - Union, CT
Miller's Pond - Durham, CT
Rockland Preserve - Madison, CT
Case Mountain - Manchester, CT
Lincoln Woods, Lincoln, RI
Arcadia - Exeter, RI
Vietnam, Milford, MA
Foxboro (Gilbert Hills) State Forest - Foxboro, MA
Harold Parker - North Andover, MA
Abram's Rock - Swansea, MA
Highland Mountain Bike Park - Northfield, NH

For More Information

Northern CT

Old Furnace State Park, Killingly

300 South Frontage Rd
Killingly  Connecticut  06239
United States

Easy

15%

Moderate

65%

Difficult

20%

Description

Located in the Quiet Corner of Connecticut is a small state park known as Old Furnace State Park. Although the park is only 367 acres, this little known gem has many miles packed into the park. A ride can be upwards of 16 miles depending on how creative you get, but typically Old Furnace is the perfect place to sneak out for a 2 hour ride with a good amount of climbing.

Most of the trails are classic New England mountain biking; rocky, rooty and technical. The perfect example of this is a short steep rocky and rooty trail locals call Roots n Ladders, one climb up and you will understand where the name comes from.  Another trail that that is the exact opposite; named Orange Crush, is approximately 3/4th of a mile of smooth climbing which leads up to a cliff lookout 200 feet above Upper Ross Pond, take the trail in reverse and it is a fast, smooth and flowy decent back towards the South Frontage Rd parking lot. There are also a couple fire road style trails that are perfect for beginners or just a mellow ride.

Directions:

From the junction of Route 6 and Route 395 (Exit 91) in Killingly, proceed east on Route 6.  Take the first right onto South Frontage Rd, Parking lot will be on the right (0.2 mile from Route 6). Read more about [node:title]

Local Shops

Downtown Putnam Cyclery

Links to Relevant Resources

Northern CT

Pachaug State Forest, Voluntown

208 Ekonk Hill Rd
Voluntown  Connecticut  06384
United States

(860) 376-4075

Easy

20%

Moderate

50%

Difficult

30%

Description

"Don't judge a book by its cover." "First impressions can be deceiving." "Things aren't always as they appear."  "It was the best of trails and the worst of trails."  "Parts of this place do actually include good singletrack and no smell of horse droppings." All of these are phrases that reflect the reality of Pachaug State Forest.

Pachaug is in the northeastern corner of Connecticut, easily accessible for local riders as well as many from Rhode Island and central or eastern Massachusetts. It is Connecticut's largest state park and its proximity to us in Boston's western 'burbs made it an appealing place to try. It's actually comprised of two sections: Green Falls to the south, which we skipped, and Chapman to the north, which was our focus.

 

When we first arrived, we used the main entrance and shortly found the headquarters. No one was around, but a box had a cache of maps. They weren't topographical, a detail that would come back to haunt us, but they had more trails than the maps we found online. We drove up the road a bit farther and parked near a main camping area in the middle of the park and once we had our bearings, we set out.

 

We'll spare the details, but here's the short version of the next several hours of riding around the central part of the park: lots of horses and the pervasive smell to prove it; Mount Misery is aptly named and doesn't have good single track to and from it to be worth seeing; everything seemed to be uphill or, when downhill, involved handing bikes to each other across impassable streams and swamps; people riding up from the southern section reported, with great irritation, a lot of trees down due to winter storms or Dutch Elm Disease which rendered those trails useless to mountain bikers.

 

By mid-afternoon, as we found ourselves back near where we started and knowing we needed to once again go up the same long hill on a well-groomed main road in order to get to new singletrack, we were struggling to maintain our sunny disposition. So we took a timeout. As we downed protein bars, Cliff shots, and water, we took stock of our situation. We didn't have much time left but had not begun to explore the northern part of the park. We mapped out a route that at least seemed to offer singletrack with potentially fewer swamps.

 

This is when our day began to stop stinking, figuratively and literally. We had some tough singletrack initially, with some intimidating rocks, washouts, and scree, forcing us to ride lighter and faster despite the fatigue. Shortly after passing a field of curious cows on a trail at the edge of the park, we came to a long, tricky downhill that was a blast to navigate.

 

As our day came to an end and we processed it over the post ride beer and drive back (no, not at the same time), we felt much better about the late-day biking than the earlier experiences. Unless someone wanted to focus on their uphill skills in the midst of a hundred year drought, we didn't believe we could recommend riding Pachaug. But we weren't ready to give up on it, either. We decided to more fully explore the northern part the following weekend.

 

Things started off beautifully on the second day, what with a cool, sunny morning, a pickup with a couple of bikes, happy riders, and a supply of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. We'd done some research and tracked down a topographical map that revealed we'd previously spent much of our ride stuck in a ravine, which explained the never-ending uphill slogs. The northern section had more variety and we sought out a parking space at Hell Hollow Pond, which was in the middle of that part of the park and a lot of promising trails.

 

Once our ride was underway, we began to feel as if our incessant optimism would be rewarded. Oh, sure, there was uphill right from the beginning, but it was singletrack this time. And it had small "moguls" which were fun. After this and a couple of more trails, we came to a clearing and stopped for a snack. We happily realized there were a series of trails to choose from. Better yet, no smell of horse poo hung heavy in the air. We mapped out the next leg and were off again. We found a couple of the best stretches of downhill so far. Big rocks, little rocks, scree fields, washouts, tight corners, roller coaster terrain, we found it all and loved it. Our next break was at Locke's Meadow Pond. Not as scenic as Hell Hollow Pond, but still nice and completely isolated and a good spot to rehydrate. We thought we'd be plodding along a boring gravel road in order to get to the next set of trails but found it was much rougher than it appeared on the map. This made for a more enjoyable transition to the next set of trails.

 

These next trails continued to be good rides, although we did have some challenges. Some of it was too hard to ride, some had downed trees, and some had trails that were tough to see. Still, there's no crying in mountain biking so we dealt with it and eventually looped back to the truck to refuel and resupply.

 

Our last legs included a set of trails just north of where we'd left off the previous weekend, giving us a better feel for how we might best string together some trails. We found some variety to the landscape with more tall pines and deeper forests, but still with plenty of scree to navigate. After several trails, with the day getting late and the constant uphill getting tedious, we had a blast by riding in reverse, enjoying a lot of long downhill. None of it was too steep but all of it required paying attention and picking out good lines or fighting to salvage bad ones without bailing. They were great to ride and reluctantly we found ourselves collapsing on the grass by the pond.

 

We reflected on Pachaug and realized it has its challenges: parts can't be ridden; the amount of horses or dirt bikes hauling down trails can be a challenge; the park isn't in great shape: some trails seem to disappear and others are getting overgrown; the central section isn't much fun. But once we figured it out, we realized it also has a lot going for it: Hell Hollow Pond is an excellent parking spot for the northern part of the park. There is a lot of good singletrack, even if you occasionally have to scout to find the trail or backtrack if you can't. And there's variety to the landscape and some pretty spots. Most importantly, there are some great riding features to this place, allowing it to offer something for every type of rider. It has plenty of dirt and gravel roads for the beginner; it has a lot of technical, scree-filled trails for the intermediate rider. Some of those same trails can have tougher lines and sections for the advanced rider. It rewards technique over power, but endurance is definitely required - its maximum elevation of 441 feet is deceptive as it manages to generate a lot of longer ups and downs. It's great for riding light, working on your line selection and endurance, and when you're on singletrack, you're pretty isolated. There are also camping facilities, so if you did an overnight you could explore on the first day, map out your second day over some cold beers, and ride the best parts on day two. Ultimately, we'd just really recommend giving this place more than one try.

 

Directions:

Last but not least, any day-long ride isn't complete until your post-ride "rehydration". If you're staying local, there's the Olde Town Pub in town, and Foxwoods is only about ten miles away. If you're heading back up interstate 395 then just over the border in Massachusetts and just off the highway is Point Breeze, a restaurant on Lake Webster with outdoor dining, cold beer, and great cocktails. You may need to change out of your riding gear but it's a fantastic view to admire as you sit and compare your first impressions with your final ones.

 

From the South: take I-395 north, Exit 85. Go through the 1st light at the next stop light. Take a right onto Route 138 east. Follow for 9 miles to Voluntown then take a left onto Route 49 north. Forest entrance will be 1 mile ahead on the left.

From the North: take I-395 south, Exit 85. At the end of the exit ramp, take a left onto Route 138 east. Follow for 9 miles then take a left onto Route 49 north. Forest entrance will be 1 mile on the left.

By Jason Bell & Sarah Ahearn Read more about [node:title]

Local Shops

Blackstone Bicycles

Links to Relevant Resources

Quiet Corner

  • Quiet Corner NEMBA formed to help advocate for the maintenance and development of trails in Old Furnace State Park and other riding areas in northeast Connecticut. We plan to ensure for the long time stability and availability of all of these trails by building relationships with landowners and property managers, and to identify and formally recognize trails through publication, mapping and signage.

    We wish to not only maintain and develop great trail systems, but also promote mountain biking by creating riding opportunities for the mountain bike community, especially focusing on getting more families involved in the sport.

  • NEMBA COVID-19 Guidance for Rides & Trail Care Events

    Click here for details

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