Saturday, October 29, 2022
Update: The route is still good to go! Cold weather is expected now, but today was a balmy 55 degrees and pleasant in bright sunshine and no wind! The leaves are down, so the trail is covered with them until the wind blows them in to the woods. The views have now returned through the trees! Pick a couple of days of good weather, dress appropriately and you will enjoy your ride! Mornings can be frosty, so there may be some ice on the trail, be cautious!
NOTE: The route is NOT suitable for a skinny tire road bike!
You will find some places with mud, puddles, chunky gravel, washboard and soft spots on the rail trails and dirt roads, but remember it is an "adventure" so you will manage get through these areas! Enjoy! The weather is always changing, so check the forecasts carefully and be prepared for warm or cold weather, rain, wind... and also many beautiful fall days! No bugs!
If it is dry, dust may be present on the rail trail sections shared with ATVs.
THE BIG NEWS!!! There is now 4.4 more miles of rail trail to enjoy!! The Ammonoosuc Rail Trail has been expanded eastward from Littleton and is ready to ride! The new section goes from Industrial Park Road to Oxbow Drive. The surface is a packed mix of dirt, cinder and ballast. It was packed down by a vibratory roller, and it is now a much better surface that what was left after the track and ties were removed, BUT still has some areas of chunky ballast. It is NOT a smooth stone dust surface, it is more of an adventure than that It is NOT good for a skinny tire road bike, but good for most everything else, it works. This eliminates biking on a busy section of Route 116 in Littleton, avoiding the intersection of Routes 116 and 302.
Here is some detail:
Traveling eastward from Woodsville to Littleton and beyond:
When on the Ammonoosuc Rail Trail, you will get to Industrial Park Road, the first major road crossing at about 20 miles from Woodsville. You will see a big parking lot across the road and the "Frozen Adventures" ice cream stand in the parking lot to the right. Cross the road carefully and you will see the new rail trail on the left side of the parking lot. Follow the rail trail and you will see the river and the town of Littleton on the left. If you are not going into town, just follow the rail trail about 4.4 miles to the current "End of the Line" at Oxbow Drive, a dirt road that is adjacent to where the rail trail ends. Take Oxbow Drive eastward for a very short bit uphill where it will intersect with Route 116. Take a right and follow 116 North to Whitefield. Ride safely on the shoulder, and be grateful that the new rail trail avoided a few of the hills and traffic on Route 116 (not all of the hills or traffic, however...).
To stop in Littleton for lodgings, food, brewery, cafe, market, candy, etc., exit the rail trail at Riverside Drive, by going left where the trail crosses the road. You will see a pumpkin colored house ahead on your right. There is a narrow dirt bike/ped pathway, right in front of the pumpkin colored house. You will feel like you are crossing their front yard! You are, and that is OK. Note the suspension bridge there, a fun way to get to the Main Street of Littleton! Return to the rail trail by the pedestrian covered bridge to Riverglen Lane, ride out to Route 302 and you will see the rail trail crossing. Stay on the rail trail to the end where the trail ends and tracks begin. Exit there on to Oxbow and go up to ride on 116 North to Whitefield.
When heading west from Whitefield towards Littleton:
Oxbow Drive is a dirt road on the south side of Route 116. It is about 7.5 miles from the center of Whitefield. As you are riding westward on the shoulder of Route 116, Look for it on your left, it is before a hill. USE CAUTION TO CROSS ROUTE 116!! Be patient and wait for a clear crossing, the cars and trucks are moving fast down the hills, so just wait for a safe time to cross. Enter Oxbow Drive and go a short distance, the rail trail is on your left. Enjoy it all the way in to Littleton. If you want ot access the town, you can exit the rail trail at Cottage Street (Route 302) across from the Littlet Grill Restaurant (the old Railroad Station). Go right and turn left almost immediately at the Freehouse Restaurant and Littleton Bike Shop. Ride to the bike/ped covered bridge and cross over to each the amenities on Main Street.
Please email us if you have any questions: email@example.com
*** The xNHAT is not suitable for a skinny tire road bike! The on-road sections are certainly fine for a road bike (North Road in particular) but YOU WILL NOT enjoy the entire route on skinny tires. The surfaces of the rail trails and dirt roads are best for wider tires (32mm or more is better), gravel bikes, hybrids and slick or slightly knobby tire mountain bikes. A mountain bike with heavy knobby tires will be ok on the dirt roads and trails, but sluggish overkill on the paved and smooth dirt road sections. Wider tires will allow you to look around and enjoy the scenery, as compared to constantly looking a the surface conditions in front of you.
We suggest downloading the GPS tracks onto your smart phone or GPS, getting the FREE fold out map AND carrying the cue sheet for route details (print out the cue sheet from the maps/cue sheet page). Better to have too much information than too little.
There are a few places where it is not easy to see the turn, so best to have all the info available: getting off of Hogan Road onto the Presidential Rail Trail in Gorham, getting onto the Ammonoosuc Rail Trail off of River Road in Lisbon, getting onto Meadow, Israel River and Valley Roads in Jefferson (these roads parallel the rail trail for a few miles and provide stellar views that are not seen from the rail trail's green tunnel!)
****There will be about 6 miles of trail restoration work on the Presidential Rail Trail between Jefferson Notch Road and Pinkham B Road planned for the Fall of 2022. This is very necessary work that will re-establish drainage by opening up the original ditches and sculpting and crowning the trail. Rainwater will run off to the side, where it should be, not down the middle of the trail! The Trail WILL BE OPEN during the restoration process. The excavator operator, Chris, will stop work to let you pass. The trail in the area where he is working may be soft and rutted, you may have to walk 50 yards or so. Wave to Chris, smile and thank him for good work!
You have likely noticed the word "Adventure" in the name of the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail. This is in there because you will certainly find adventures along the way. Along with the scenic beauty of the mountains, forest, fields, ponds, rivers and streams, the adventures include variable trail and road surfaces, sudden detours, weather, washouts. The rail trails are generally "natural" surfaces (mostly hard packed, consisting of cinder, dirt, some ballast, gravel... NOT the beautifully manicured hard packed stone dust or paved surfaces of the flatlands!). ATVs are a North Country favorite sport, you will see them on the Ammonoosuc Rail Trail (a good example of sharing the trails) and on a short section of the easternmost part of the Presidential Rail Trail (they can be numerous here, grin and bear this short section, the ATVS have wreaked the trail surface), especially on weekends.
So, enjoy the challenges along the way, they make for the best stories to share for years to come.
Ammonoosuc Rail Trail near Woodville: While the bridge over Rte 302 was replaced, the larger ballast rocks are still in place as you approach the bridge from either side. Please use caution!
Ammonoosuc Rail Trail: From Woodsville to Lisbon:
Woodsville to Bath is Ok. Bath to Lisbon, well, it has some issues, but they come and go. We are woking on this:
On August 30th, the section of the trail in Lisbon behind the factory received a new surface! It goes only about 0.6 mile, an experiment to test the surface material for use by motorized and non-motorized trail users. Thye say it can't be done, but we think that "Chief", of Chief's Quarry in Vermont, has put together a magic mix for us. So far it is a BIG improvement to the trail! We will be watching this calmly to its resistance to washouts, ruts, washboard and dust. If it hols up, we will do more!
In the other sections of the rail trail there are areas of gravely stuff, especially around the gates, so use caution there. You will appreciate wider tires here. If you know this section, you will be pleased with the surface and fewer gravely spots, if you don't know this section you might whine about the gravely spots. Adventure, remember? What's that new gravel bike for, anyway?? The gravel is being flung off to the side by the ATVS, which is good news, BUT, at the end of the season, the ATVs are creating the washboard, bad news... typically you will be able to avoid it if you stay on the sides of the trail. There are a few lumpy areas south of the tunnel near Lisbon. Fall means s=washboard season, so find the smoother line on the ties or right in the middle of the trail.
The ATVs in this area are typically mellow and enjoying the scenery as much as you are. They will typically wave and slow down when they see you. Wave and move over to the side of the trail. Stay in your line when they appraoch,and don't be a squirrel darting back and forth across the trail. This rail trail is a good example of all trail users sharing the trail well. There can be rare exceptions to this rule on both sides.
On-road section from Lisbon (Bishop and Lyman Roads) to Rt 302: Paved roads, all good, some places have really nice pavement, the worst section was paved smoothly this summer!
Rt 302 to River Road and back on the rail trail: Some of the pavement is good, some not as good. The river views are very pleasant in this area. Part of River Road is dirt. It is a much better ride on the dirt road than the (gravelly) rail trail in this area, so stay on River Road, don't be tempted to get onto the rail trail too early. There is a KOA campground ACROSS the river from where you are riding on River Road, you will see the camper vehicles along the riverside through the trees. AFTER you pass by this campground located on the other side of the river, start looking for the right turn onto a short uphill rocky dirt access road that goes about 30 yards to rejoin the Rail Trail. There is a small No Trespassing sign in the woods at the turn, this means to not continue straight on the dirt road, you will end up in a private yard at the Dead End. Instead, go up this short dirt access road to the rail trail and take a left, go thru the gate and continue on the rail trail heading towards Littleton.
Ammonoosuc Rail Trail: From River Road to Littleton: It typically is hard packed and in better shape than the more westerly sections.
NEW SECTION OF RAIL TRAIL from Littleton to Oxbow Road: 4.4 miles! See description above! It has some issues, but MUCH beer that being on a busy roadway.
Oxbow Road to Whitefield to Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge (Rt 116, Hazen and Airport Roads): Paved roads, not what eh xNHAT is all bout but we are working on this. . Route 116 is a true road ride... it has a good shoulder, good pavement and good lines of sight. However, use your road riding skills and stay far right on the shoulder, single file. You will climb and you will see more cars and trucks here than on any other road of the xNHAT. This up/down road ride will be eventually be converted to a rail trail ride. Next spring/summer, another 2.6 miles will be on rail trail. Yay!
Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge: The 4 mile section of the Presidential Rail Trail in the refuge is in good shape. The work done 2 years ago to restore, crown, ditch, add new culverts and 4 Beaver Deceivers has made this section good for early season use. However....the new ledge pack surface is more coarse than a typical stone dust rail trail. Some sections are more "more coarse" than others. Raking and continued use this season have improved the surface and there will be additional work to address this next season. There is a porta-potty and a Dero Fixit Bike Repair Station and pump in the parking lot at Airport Road.
Meadows, Israel River and western end of Valley Road: Paved and in good shape. These roads have excellent views of the Presidential Range, and they travel though some of the best fields of lupine in mid to late June. Take these roads as a more scenic option than the rail trail in this area!
Valley Road (dirt section). This road is typically in good shape. Panoramic mountain views are always here to see if you are lucky to have clear skies. There will be some snow dusting the mountain tops this month, it is great to see the snow and the colorful fall foliage together!
For the panoramic mountain views, be sure to exit the rail trail after Pondicherry onto Meadows Road (Route 115A), follow the cue sheet and map carefully here! Do not stay on the rail trail or you will miss the panoramas. Take Meadows, Israel River and Valley Roads eastward. If doing a looped day ride out of Pondicherry, I suggest doing the Meadows-Israel River-Valley Road route EASTWARD for the panorama, then return westward via the rail trail.
Presidential Rail Trail, Jefferson Notch Road to the Bowman parking lot: You will encounter a short section of mud, a few big rocks and soft areas within a 0.3 mile section to the west of the Israel River Bridge. All this is ridable or walkable with caution. It is better, but there are some ruts, from the bridge eastward. All rideable, just keep our eyes open for any issues to ride around. Stop your bike to look around and soak in the views! There is some rough gravel right at the edges of the Israel River Bridge.
Presidential Rail Trail, Bowman to Pinkham B Road: There are a few sandy spots, soft areas and a few short bits of gravelly surface. here is another section that will be restored later this fall. The downhill rail grade is GREAT! You may see moose and bear, they are often viewed in Randolph and in the Pondicherry area. There is a porta-potty at the Pinkham B Road area until the first week of November. Look to the right side of the fire station/public works building, it is partially hidden by pine trees!
Pinkham B Road to Gorham: Wow, what a difference the restoration work done in June of 2021 has made on this trail! Enjoy!
Gorham to Hogan Road: UGH!!! The ATVs have caused damage to this section of the trail. This short section (Rt 2 parking lot to the junction with Hogan Road) is shared with ATVs. There can be LOTS of them on the weekends. From this location they can access 1000 miles of trail, so they come from everywhere to enjoy this riding mecca. To control dust in the residential area, about a 0.1 mile section of the rail trail was paved. Enjoy this short section! HOWEVER......After the pavement ends you WILL have soft areas and some loose rocks. It can be a bit better if the rain has packed it down. Take it slowly, walk the worst spots and take it as part of the adventure, it will not be bad for too long, you will be on Hogan Road soon. This issue will be addressed, somehow the trail must be restored and be enjoyable for ALL allowed users.
Hogan Road: In good shape (for Hogan Road)! Likely some mud and wet areas, but Hogan always has some issues. Part of The Adventure. It is a beautiful unmaintained dirt road. The rocky areas, sand, etc. from the big floods and washouts of 2017 are all still there...part of the fun. It has been fun to weave around the puddles, obstacle course style. Most consider this to the be best part of the entire route, a few others say just the opposite. Something for everyone on this route! Look for the Osprey nest on a new platform near the power poles. The osprey may be angry at you for being close to their nest, perhaps they have already moved south.
Finding Hogan Road and the Presidential Rail Trail:
To find Hogan Road from the rail trail, heading east: The short little access trail is IMMEDIATELY on the right after crossing the short bridge over the power canal, BEFORE THRE GATE. It really, truly is immediately after the bridge, look hard to your right. The access entrance has 2 small signs: a small signs on birch trees for the xNHAT and a hiking trail, anther next to the gate. Use your cue sheet and watch your odometer. If you miss this entrance, you can access Hogan Road from an open parking/work/staging area on the right about 0.1 mile from the small bridge over the power canal.
To find the Presidential Rail Trail from Hogan Road, going WEST... Once you pass the old brick power building/dam, you will go slightly uphill and back into the woods. When you emerge to an open area, there will be many big tall power poles on your right carrying power lines. Up ahead on the left will be a narrow single track that leads steeply downhill. There is a sign on a tree, but it is at the edge of the woods and likely covered with leafy branches. I cannot put signs on the power poles, which would have made this easier! When the power pole and guy wires are right near the dirt roadway, look to the left for that single track. If you miss this, a short distance ahead is a rough dirt road access to a staging area for the power company. It also goes steeply down to the left. The rail trail will be visible, take a left and deal with the ATVs, dust and some unpleasant, some bad surface conditions for about 1.2 miles. You will be pleased at that point to be on the non-motorized section of the Presidential Rail Trail, a highlight of the route!
North Road to Bethel: All paved, a fantastic pavement ride. Most of the pavement is new as of last year. Some sections are not new and require the usual care looking for cracks and broken pavement.
Please realize that conditions change a lot, especially after rain. I try to keep up with everything, and rely on cyclists and walkers, like you, to help keep this Trail Conditions page up to date! Email me if you see an issue that needs to be shared with other trail users and the NH Bureau of Trails: info@xNHAT.org
Enjoy your ride!!
June 1st, What a difference a Beaver Deceiver can make! The height of the black outlet pipe is now controlling the water level. The new lowered pond level will not threaten the trail anymore but will still be good for the beavers and the surrounding wetlands. Win Win Win.
Here is Hogan Road, the eastern section, no problem with conditions here! This area is elevated from the riverside, so no damage from the flooding.
Disclaimer: The Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail and the authors of the website, social media and maps strive to prepare accurate information about the route and the conditions. However, they make no warranty, representation, or guaranty as to the accuracy of any information presented. Conditions on the route can change without warning due to weather, flooding, wear and tear, construction, tree falls, vehicles on the route, etc. You should verify the accuracy of all information obtained from this web site, wear a helmet and abide by safe bicycling standards. By using or relying on any material contained on this site, the user knowingly waives any and all claims for damages against any and all of the entities comprising the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail that may arise from the contained information.