Where to Ride

Where to ride

This is a work in progress. Want to help?

mtbproject and trailforks are two phone apps that show our trails.  Trailforks is the most current for our area.Download the app on your phone and it will show you your location on the trail.   It uses gps, not data!

Best trail maps of the greater North Conway area are by Mountain Cycle Guide Service, available at local bike shops and the U.S. Forest Service’s Saco Ranger Station located at the east end of the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112).

Red Tail Trail

The Red Tail Trail has become an instant classic since NEMBA completed the trail in September 2001. While it is most popular as a descent, it was originally laid out as an alternative to climbing Hurricane Mountain Road to access the Black Cap Connector. Most of the trail lies on town land managed by the Conway Conservation Commission; the lower third of the trail is located on Cranmore property from just above the water tank to just below the bridge.

If you choose to descend Red Tail, ride in control and look for uphill traffic. It is very popular with hikers and mountain runners as well as mountain bikers, so expect to encounter people coming up! There are three good options for getting to the top: 1. Ride up it. Not as horrendous as it’s made out to be and you get more time to enjoy the variety of trail features. Milk the rests wherever you can. Cleaning this climb on-sight with no rests or dabs is an impressive accomplishment. 2. Ride the Cranmore access road to the pine tree cell tower, then turn right just before the tower and climb the Cranmore Trail (people often continue to tag the Cranmore summit, take a rest, then return to tower). After climbing most of the Cranmore Trail, the Red Tail is on the left a couple hundred yards before the intersection with the Black Cap Trail and is signed. This is often done and while the access road has one or two gut busting sections, most of the Cranmore Trail is very good. 3. Ride Hurricane Mountain Road to top, climb the Black Cap Trail (very rooty), turn right on Cranmore Trail and follow for ~200 yards, then right again onto Red Tail (signed).

You can also shuttle Hurricane Mountain Road but it takes less overall time to ride up, not to mention friendlier on the environment and your vehicles.

From the water tank at the bottom of Red Tail, you can ride a mix of trails and pavement back to Cranmore. Continue on a short singletrack down and left from the tank and you will pop out at some condominiums. Take the paved driveway up a short hill and follow the road right down a longer hill. At the bottom of the hill take your first left. This heads up towards some more condominiums, but before climbing up to them keep your eyes peeled for a singletrack on the right (this quickly becomes a doubletrack). Follow this trail (there are a couple of singletrack variations on the left side to bypass mud; also it was recently logged – bear to the left) and you will come out at the Mount Cranmore condominiums. Go behind the condominiums (there are a variety of routes to get there; please be respectful of tenants) to get on a ski trail and follow this down to the base lodges. Pass straight across the Cranmore base area towards the fitness center. As you get to the paved fitness center parking lot, follow singletrack just to the right of the fitness center building and cross a small bridge. Continue past a few old lift towers and mud holes and up a hill, bearing left at a Y intersection. Go straight at the next intersection and follow winding singletrack which will eventually cross the power lines. Go left on pavement to Thompson Road and turn right to the trailhead . Follow doubletrack to get to the kiosk; Sticks and Stones starts just to its right of the kiosk.

One of the local favorite routes is to go up Red Tail and down the Black Cap Connector, however in places the Connector is eroded, chundery and gnarlier than some people’s taste. Also, there are a few key intersections (unmarked) on the Connector that you do not want to get wrong; for example you do NOT want to go left down Mason Brook Trail. There is also an intersection lower where you want to bear left to hit the excellent roller coaster section and get to the Sidehill Trail; if you go right you miss the best part of the descent. The trail on the right is not shown on the map edition that I have. Climbing the BCC is no picnic and pretty much nobody does it.

Sticks & Stones Area

From Route 16 in North Conway, follow Artist Falls Road and take a right on Thompson Road to the Pudding Pond trailhead near the powerlines. Follow doubletrack a short ways to an info kiosk. NEMBA’s pump track is located across the powerlines to the left (east) of the kiosk, look for the “Wheeled Vehicles Prohibited” and Pump Track signs. Just right of the kiosk is the start of Sticks & Stones, a short fun loop full of technical features that are easily bypassed if desired. The usual direction is to bear right at the two intersections but it rides well both ways. The Pudding Pond Loop is nearby (intersection is near the biggest stone plank, hard to miss) and has 250′ or more of bog bridges. The water level is often very high but when it’s a little drier it is well worth doing.

Sidehill Trail

From the kiosk, look left across the powerlines. There are two obvious openings; the right one leads to our pump track. The left trail goes to Peaked & Middle Mountains, climb to where the trails split and look for a trail sign with right arrow and bike logo. This is the Sidehill Trail and leads to a maze of fine singletrack that goes south to Redstone quarry and beyond. Lots of good riding and you can’t really get lost, as the network parallels the powerlines. Head downhill at any point and you’ll hit the powerlines, which you can follow north back to Thompson Road.

Whitaker Woods

Whitaker Woods is located adjacent to the John Fuller elementary school on Pine Street in North Conway. It is mostly doubletrack and offers easy riding as well as a surprising amount of climbing and descending. You can park at the Whitaker Meeting House, which is the first right north of the traffic light at the junction of Rt 16 and River Road/Pine Street. Some parking is also available at John Fuller School during non-school hours.

Connection to The Memorial Hospital’s DeMark Fitness Trail and Conway’s Shedd Woods, which has a very nice NEMBA-built trail leading to the First Bridge swimming area on the Saco River is also possible. Beware of poison ivy in Shedd Woods! The Conway Conservation Commission’s maps of Whitaker Woods and Shedd Woods are located on this page.

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