I've had this idea in my head for a bit now, maybe a year or so? Highland and Spaulding have come a long way in a short time with their XC trails. They don't have a ton of mileage per se but the quality of what is there now is really good and definitely worth checking out.
I was fairly certain that linking them all up via bike would certainly be possible but I wasn't sure if it would be more of a slog where you could say 'OK I did that but never again'. I'm happy to report that not only is it not a slog at all but it is down right reasonable if not fully enjoyable. That is if you like riding your bike for 4-6hrs.
I pitched the idea to Doug P. who certainly likes riding his bike for as long as possible and he signed right up. We started the day at FFD riding everything on offer there. Its nice to be able to ride the first 10 or so miles there as a warm up without really needing to haul much gear because you can always stop at the car to grab extra gear before hitting the road. Grabbed a few bottles and my camelbak and we set off down the road.
We took Babbitt Rd. off Rt.127 to Sanborn St. Eventually Sanborn turns into dirt (at Calef Hill) road name might technically change as well but who knows really. After a short distance that dirt road veers right and probably turns into someones driveway but if you stay straight it turns into a logging / jeep road that Google calls Pest House Rd.
Pest House was actually a pleasant surprise. It was interesting riding terrain, a bit like some of the stuff in NH100. Rutted out double track with some boulders here and there There was a small logging operation going and there was a sign that said 'Motion Cameras in Use' but I think that is probably more to deter the jeeps tearing everything up. It was a nice little climb heading out and a really fun/fast descent coming back.
The rest of the way was pavement over to Highland. A nice cruise into Tilton and then a bit of a climb up to Highland. Highlands XC network was interesting. Really well built trails but geared a bit more towards the dualie crowd if you ask me. Don't get me wrong they are some sweet trails but if you are on a hardtail you had better stay attentive. Lots of up and down (ski hill go figure). Up the fireroad climb and pick a trail down...repeat.
Getting over to Spaulding Woods is incredibly easy. Basically a straight shot on Keasor Rd. which turns into Reservoir and then you cross Bay Hill and get onto Spaulding Rd. The School cut a nice access trail called Pat's Outback so that you can get to the trail system without cutting across the school trails/property. After getting everything at Spaulding its a nice easy cruise down into Tilton and a stop at a gas station for a refuel.
After that its a gentle climb back up to Pest House a fun rip down and back to FFD. Around 40 miles with half of that being single track. Not too shabby. AND its some of the best flowy / fast single track in NH along with some great technical / enduro-ish stuff at Highland and a bit of a mix of everything at Spaulding. Something for everyone. Dare a say a perfect little endurance ride? Good ratio of trail to connector. Places to stop for calories at good intervals not sure what else you would really need?
I'm looking forward to doing this one again as well as linking FFD and Page Hill and maybe one day linking them all. I'm also trying to figure out linking Ahern to Ramblin Vewe on the other side of the lakes. That should be another easy one and if I new Laconia a bit better that would be mostly singletrack but I don't know the sandpits well enough yet. Maybe I can talk Eric into that one soon....BIKES!