Rocky Gutter, Middleborough
At last a place to ride that isn't hard. At last a place to ride that doesn't have any hills.
Rocky Gutter Wildlife Management Area is located in Middleborough just off route 495. The area consists of 2954 acres and is managed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. This land is managed for hunting fishing and wildlife viewing and there are over 15 miles of trails and dirt roads that can be enjoyed on a mountain bike.
As I stated above the riding here is pretty easy. This is a perfect place to ride if you don't want to beat yourself up, if you are introducing a new rider to the sport, or are riding with your kids.
From the parking area near the metal gate I'd suggest following Rocky Gutter Road to the far end of the park. (About 2.2 miles.) If you do you'll notice many trails and old woods roads leading off Rocky Gutter Road to the north and south. A good rule of thumb here is that any trail that looks used probably loops back to Rocky Gutter Road at some point. While any trail that doesn't look used probably dead ends someplace. Most of the best riding is located on the north side of the road. (That's your left as you ride out of the parking area.) The south side is much larger, but it has fewer trails as it's mostly a wetland.
One good ride consists of riding to the far end of the park and then on your way back taking your first right into the woods on a well used doubletrack. From this point if you keep taking left turns you'll eventually get back to Rocky Gutter Road much closer to your car. As you do this you'll notice a number of well used right turns leading off into the woods. Take them and you be extending your ride with additional loops.
The most difficult trail that I found was on the South side of the road not too far past the management area's only powerline. Follow it and you'll eventually come to an old ATV trail that leads out of the management area. But, this trail does not lead back to the main road. So if you ride it you'll be doing it as an "out & back".
One thing that strikes me every time I ride here is the solitude. I have never seen anyone out on the trails. Or even on the dirt road. Another thing is the quite. Stay on the north side of Rocky Gutter Road and you won't hear any traffic noise from Route 495 or anyplace else. And jet planes rarely fly over. You almost get the impression that you're riding someplace in northern New England so remote seeming is this area.
As I said all levels of riders can enjoy most of the park's trails. None require any advanced skills or high levels of fitness. Better riders of course will cover ground faster. But unless they're intent on riding challenging terrain even very good riders will have a lot of fun here too.
From the north or south take Route 495 to exit 3. Head north on Route 28. Take your first right on Miller Street. And then turn right on Rocky Gutter Street. The paved road will turn into a dirt road and right before a metal gate you'll see a parking area on your right.
Rocky Gutter Wildlife Management Area is managed primarily for hunting and fishing. So during hunting season there will be a lot of hunters there. I would suggest not riding here during hunting season. After all you'll have the trails to yourself for most of the rest of the year. Massachusetts Hunting Season (There's no hunting in Massachusetts on Sundays.)
By Bill Boles