Lake Massabesic, FOMBA Trails, Auburn
The Lake Massabesic Watershed hosts one of the best mountain bike trail systems anywhere. It includes more than 13 miles of singletrack trails that were built and which are maintained by FOMBA, The Friends of Massabesic Bicycling Association. The singletracks are technical and wind through the woods in a manner that would be very confusing for a non-cyclist. But on a bike, everything makes sense as one singletrack trail leads naturally to another with only a short fireroad break to separate them. And speaking of the fireroads, there are over 20 miles of them. They're much easier going than the singletracks and are perfect for just buzzing around when you don't want to challenge yourself too strenuously. There's also a long section of abandoned railroad bed that's now a rail trail. The latter is perfect for families with young kids on small singlespeed bicycles.
FOMBA originated in 1995 when the sport of mountain biking was younger and there was a possibility that the area would be closed to bikes. The organization has done a lot more over the years than just insure that mountain biking is welcome. They run an annual benefit fun ride for the Auburn Volunteer Rescue Squad and have been involved in promoting charity cyclecross races. And, of course, they are the stewards of Massabesic's singletracks. The first fun ride in 1995 had 12 participants. The second had 15. But that's changed. 2006 saw a record turnout of 295 and it's been around that number ever since.
I wish that I lived closer to Manchester NH. If I did, FOMBA's trails would be in my back yard - instead of a long drive away. But then, maybe that's one of the reasons why I like these trails so much. Since I can't get there too often, they'll never seem old to me. Then again, mountain bikers designed these singletracks for mountain bikes. They were built with longevity in mind. IE: They're hardened and won't degrade over time. But most of all they're a blast to ride. Winding as they do in and around an endless succession of rocks, roots, trees and small hills. At times you almost think that you're riding the same trail backwards. They're that convoluted. And if you're riding the trails with a number of riders, you'll frequently see them a few yards off in the woods, on their own portion of the trail that you're riding on. And unlike most trails, with these singletracks, it doesn't matter which way you ride them. They're equally fun in both directions and they'll seem totally different when you ride them 'backwards'.
Try FOMBA's trails once and you'll be addicted. I was, I am - Even though I live too far away to get my "fix" more than once or twice a year.
Check with FOMBA to see when the enxt TrailCare day is.
From route 93 north or south take exit 7 and head East on route 101. Take exit 2 off of route 101 and head south on Hookset Rd. Take your second left on Depot Rd about 1000 feet after you cross a railroad bed. Head north until you see a parking area on your right. Unload your bikes - and explore. Oh! Be sure to bring the map with you. Otherwise you'll get lost.
Alternatively, take exit 1 from route 101 and head South on route 28. Just after the rotary you'll see a large parking lot on your left. That's the front parking lot for Lake Massabesic. Head out of the parking area on the trail at the north of this lot and you'll connect up with the rail trail that will lead you to the depot Road parking area.
FOMBA's trails are closed when conditions are such that the trails would be damaged by use. For example: In the early spring during the mud season. Check with FOMBA if you're unsure.
Submitted by Bill Boles