Compiling a list of the best mountain bike trails in Massachusetts was tough. With over 711 miles of designated mountain bike trails finding the best becomes a little overwhelming.
Here’s my shot at the BEST Mountain Bike Trails in Massachusetts:
1. Pearl Hill State Park (Best Beginner MTB Trails)
Pearl Hill State Park is a 1000-acre plot of land located in the town of Townsend, Massachusetts. The Pearl Hill State Park connects to the Willard Brook State Forest by a mountain bike path which means that there is around a total 4000-acres of recreational area available at these two locations.
Looking for a Trail Map to Pearl Hill Mountain Bike Trails? Click on the picture below.Link to Trail Map:
There are 20 miles of trails at this location, most of which are beginner to intermediate level. There are, however, well maintained trails of all difficulty levels. This includes some expert level black diamond trails. The trail system at the Pearl Hill State Park connects to the Willard State Park trail system as well.
2. Harold Parker State Forest (Best Difficult Trails)
The Harold Parker State Forest is a 3000-acre preserve with around 35 miles of mountain biking trails, some of which are perhaps the most technical in the state. The towns of: Andover, North Andover, North Reading, and Middleton, Massachusetts share claims to portions of the forest.
Harold Parker State Forest Mountain Bike Trail Map: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/xi/hpmap.pdf
It has both single-track and double-track expert level trails that are absolutely filled with roots, rocks, and climbs. Not to mention a high number of drops. However, there are some smooth single-tracks and intermediate level trails for less experienced riders.
3. Robinson State Park (Best Intermediate MTB Trails)
Robinson State Park borrows its name from the businessman John C. Robinson who donated the land to the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1934 and 1937. The park is frequented by many visitors with many forms of recreation in mind, but birdwatchers in particular enjoy the fact that migratory birds use this location for rest when flying south. In fact, the community of birds at the park can change almost completely day to day.
Where to Find Robinson State Park Mountain Bike Trails
Download a map of Robinson MTB trails with this link: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/qx/robinson.pdf
Mountain bikers also have a particular reason for frequenting the area. The park contains an expansive 25 miles of trails in its 1025-acres. These trails are incredibly variable given that on one you may be facing steep inclines and rough terrain, and on another you will be flying down some of the smoothest declines you’ll ever find. However, the majority of the trail lengths are intermediately challenging. Just be careful, this park has some cliffs which have unmarked walking paths that lead to them.
Trail Spotlight – THUNDER MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK
Thunder Mountain Bike Park is a full gravity-fed mountain bike park. A lift takes you up the mountain and you ride select a trail appropriate to your skill level. What is so fantastic about Thunder Mountain is whether you’re a beginner or expert, you can find a trail that will increase your MTB skills.
Picture Credit: Thunder Mountain Bike Park
4. Vietnam Trails (Best Variety of Mountain Bike Trails)
This location is a little different because it isn’t a state-owned plot of land with public funding. The Vietnam Trails in Milford, Massachusetts, were created in 2003 after NEMBA was able to secure $210,000 in fundraising to purchase 47 -acres of land. Prior to the land purchase by NEMBA a trail system existed in the area, but it wasn’t well maintained and was in danger of development. It was the first time, anywhere in the world, a mountain biking association had purchased a plot of land to prevent the destruction of trails. NEMBA was offered $1,650,000 for the 47-acres by an LLC owned by Donald Trump, but rejected the purchase offer despite it being eight times the amount NEMBA paid for land.
Link to Trail Map: https://www.nemba.org/file/vietnammapjpg
There are 20 miles of extremely well-maintained trails, although development is ongoing. Dedicated singularly to mountain biking this location has everything you would expect from a trail system owned and built by mountain biking fanatics. A full range of difficulties and trail types, all of which have been meticulously designed while still maintain a natural feel that is essential to a good trail.
5. Lynn Woods Reservation (MTB Over Giant Rocks)
Lynn Woods Reservation is a 2,200-acre municipal forest park in Lynn, Massachusetts. The park encompasses about one-fifth of the entire of land area of the city. Originally, the park was created as a response to public desire to ensure the preservation of the parks three ponds: Breed’s pond, Birch pond, and Walden pond (not to be confused with the famous Walden pond located in Concord, Massachusetts).
Below is a link to the”Unoffical Lynn Woods Freeride Mountain Bike Map, I love the disclaimer printed on this map. “Mountain Biking is an inherently dangerous sport and LynnWoods contains some of the most challenging trails in the area”. https://www.nemba.org/system/files/LynnWoodsMappingProject-TBM-20150805-WithInputFromRangerDanSmall_0.jpg
There is, officially, 5 miles of trails in the park. Although, the entire reservation is surrounded by fire roads and is completely interconnected by single-tracks. Even though there is an around a hundred individual trails in the trail system, it is impossible to get completely lost because most of the trails are short or linked to one or more marked trails. These trails are often chock full of rocks and not just the gravel from the fire roads. It isn’t uncommon to come across boulder’s the size of a large car, either half buried like an iceberg or sitting flat upon the forest floor.
6. Leominster State Forest (Mountain Biking with Two Peaks)
The Leominster State Forest is a 4,246-acre preserve owned by the Commonwealth of the State of Massachusetts, located partially in the town of Leominster as well as the towns of Fitchburg, Princeton, Sterling, and Westminster. The Forest has an extensive trail system, which makes it popular amongst mountain bikers, but it also contains the Crow Hills. The Crow Hills is a monadnock, which means that it is an isolated rock hill with dual summits. Because of this, the Leominster State Forest is also undoubtedly a favored destination for rock climbers.
Link to Trail Maps: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/10/25/leominster-2018.pdf
There are 10 miles of advanced level Single-track trails at this location, all of which have varying terrain accompanied always with rocks. Whether it’s level, firm, dirt or soft, root infested, mulchy areas… there will be rocks. However, most of the trail can be handled by intermediate level riders who are looking for a challenge.
7. October Mountain State Forest (Largest State Forest in MA with MTB Trails)
October Mountain State Forest is the largest state forest in the commonwealth with an impressive 16,460-acre plot located mostly in the Town of Washington. The commonwealth gained this forest not through purchasing it or designating it a preserve but rather through the estate of the previous owner, Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of the Navy William C. Whitney. The name October Mountain is rumored to have come from the author Herman Melville who had a home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts overlooked the area.
Link to Trail Map: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/qw/october_4.pdf
The trails at this location are mostly intermediate level with advanced and beginner level trails as well. The length of all of the trails hasn’t been measured but there is at least one popular 7-mile loop which riders report that it takes hours to complete. Moreover, there are single-tracks sprinkled all through the forest.
8. Douglas State Forest (FLAT MTB Riding)
Douglas State Forest is 5,525-acres of land in Douglas, Massachusetts which boarders the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island. On the eastern side of the forest is Wallum Lake which is separated, along with the southern portion of the total forest area, by the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border.
Many of the forest’s trails were created by and for motorcyclists although luckily for mountain bikers the motorcyclists lost permissions to use the trails in the fall of 1996. Additionally, it’s very lucky for mountain biker’s that the car and motorbike races, which used to take place on the dirt roads of the park, have since been stopped.
Link to the Trail Map: https://www.nemba.org/sites/default/files/DouglasSF.pdf
There are 27 miles of trails in this forest, which is situated almost entirely on a plateau that gives the trails there characteristically flat quality. In fact, there is only about a 300-foot difference in elevation across the entire preserve. The flat trails which are a result of this are both single-track and double-track. However, there are some fire roads and dirt roads. All in all, the terrain is rocky and technical which makes it suitable for intermediately skilled riders looking for a challenge or advanced riders.
9. Maudslay State Park (MTBing with Bald Eagle Nesting Area)
There is approximately 450-acres of land, which boarders the Merrimack, that makes up the Maudslay State Park. Unlike most of the parks and forests on this list the Maudslay State Park is a landscaped and decorative park which means that large portions of the land area are made up of meadows, gardens, and an incredibly large stand of mountain laurel (a regional flower). The part of the forest that is like most parks is that of the white pine forests that grow on the bluffs and slopes of the river. These white pines are so tall that the upper canopy isn’t visible from the forest floor. This upper canopy is what creates a perfect nesting area for a population of bald eagles that lives there.
Link to Maudslay State Park MTB Trail Map: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/rv/maudslay.pdf
There is only 4 miles of trails in the Maudsley State Park, almost all of which are double-track. This location is best for someone looking for a leisurely ride through some of the most scenic forestry in Massachusetts. The trails, when not packed with people as this is a very popular park, are very flowey and don’t have much elevation change throughout. If you’re looking for a challenge or a workout then this might not be where you want to go. But, if you like history, scenic views, and the possibility of seeing a bald eagle then this is a great place to take a quick ride on your mountain bike.
10. Wompatuck State Park (Ride Around 100 Military Bunkers)
The park is 3,579-acres of forest that is bisected by Union street in the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. The area was previously a naval ammunition depot annex which was in use during world war two and closed in 1965. The remnants of this which can be seen today are a few old military buildings that are mostly broken down and in disrepair. Also, there are over 100 decommissioned bunkers spread across the park; most of the bunkers have been backfilled.
Link to the Trail Map: http://friendsofwompatuck.org/Wompy_Map_2015.pdf
15 miles of intermediately difficult single-track dirt roads and some paved single-track are what a rider who reads the description found on the park’s website would expect to find. And, while you will find that… you will also be surprised to find out that in recent years NEMBA has been expanding the trail system. In fact, the trails have been extended to the left side of the park even though previously they only existed on the eastern section. The truth is that there is probably 50 miles of trail just in the two loops which go around each section and even more trails that cut through.
11. Groton Town Forest (100 miles of MTB trails)
The Groton Town Forest was the second town forest to be created in the commonwealth, the purpose of which was to preserve the town natural resources. However, much of the land wasn’t well managed and when the population of the town doubled over a twenty-year period many parcels were sold to land developers. This was quickly recognized by conservation organizations which prevented the sale of any more of the parks land and opened the remaining 3,276 acres to the public.
Link to Groton MTB Trail Map – https://www.grotontrails.org/Interactive_Maps.html#map=15/42.59189/-71.60977
Today, the park is 7,350 acres in size and has an insane 100+ miles of well-maintained trails (only 14 miles of which are marked and designated for mountain biking). There is a plethora of single-track which loop off of a main double-track route, all of which are very well maintained. Be sure to bring a map as it’s easy to forget how many turns you’ve taken on the trail system.
12. Wendell State Forest (Classic New England Single-Track)
Within the 7,566-acres of forest that this parcel of land occupies there are beautiful rolling hills, quick flowing streams, and even a few ponds. These things, along with the rocks and roots on the trails, are what make an experience at the Wendell State Forest one which is distinctly characteristic of New England. The geography of the park is typical of much of the state, unlike that of many state parks which are formed around a unique formation or ecosystem.
Link to the Wendell MTB Trail Map: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/oi/wendell.pdf
There are 17 miles of single-tracks which flow in between dirt roads to make up the Wendell State Park trail system. The trail system is somewhat difficult due to the rocks and roots I just mentioned and it doesn’t help that many of the trails markers are faded. Maintenance on the trails in general can be inconsistent which does partially take away from the calm and scenic environment the forest creates. However, it is still on this list not for a lack of great mountain biking destinations in Massachusetts but rather because the trail system is very popular amongst experience mountain bikers from Massachusetts who love the nostalgic scenery and quiet trails that Wendell Pond State has to offer.
13. Erving State Forest (Diverse Ecosystem)
Much of the forest’s recreational developments were completed by Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1937. Because of their efforts the 2,422-acre park has been a popular recreational destination ever since. Of course, some of the credit must be given to the beautiful flora and fauna which give the park much of its character. The park itself is situated pretty much directly between the northern and southern New England tree cultures. The result of this is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the state, and definitely the most amount of different kinds of trees.
Link to the Trail Map: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/rt/erving_0.pdf
Erving State Forest borders two other public reserves to the north and is near Wendell State Forest to the south. The total length of connected trails that run through them is around 35-miles long. About half are beginner level and the rest is of an intermediate difficulty, although pretty much all of them are smoothly graded dirt roads or single-tracks which only vary by the steepness of their climbs.
Mountain Bike Parks in Massachusetts’s
Much like many mountain bike parks, Thunder Mountain Bike Park is a gravity-fed park. That means that you get to take the lift up and then proceed to ride down the mountain. Because of this downhill aspect there is a rental department of the park which can provide riders with the correct gear for gravity mountain biking. Even if you already have a mountain bike I would recommend looking into renting one if yours isn’t made for taking drops and riding over obstacles at high speeds.
Because of the helpful staff which are available Thunder Mountain Bike Park is a great place for riders of any skill level. Of course, this experience comes at a price which comes in the form of a pass which can be purchased in exchange for access to the lift and the trails.
5 Leisure Mountain Biking Trails in Massachusetts
1. Willowdale Forest Double and Single Track MTB
Within the modest 2,491-acres of land in this forest is an impressive 20 miles of trails, most of which are beginner level double-track and single-track. While some difficult trails can be found here the real draw is the fact that smooth, level, well-marked, well maintained trails go for miles. Most other parks of this size focus on trails meant for experienced mountain bikers Willowdale forest seems to be mostly dedicated to maintaining those trails which can be used by anybody.
2. Prospect Hill Paved Family Friendly MTB Trails
There aren’t many attractions at this location and the park is only 219-acres in total. However, there is ten miles of very easy trails along with paved roads that lead to the campsites. Prospect Hill used to be a popular ski mountain which will tell you that some of the trails will have pretty steep descents, although they never get overly technical so going down is a breeze.
3. Wellfleet Ponds
20 miles of winding trails which are mostly smooth is what you will find at Wellfleet Ponds. However, due to its location the trail system does occasionally suffer from sand as most costal trail systems do. This usually isn’t a problem but some climbs might be a little loose. The trails aren’t technical but can be pretty fast paced, so if that doesn’t seem leisurely to you then another location might be better for you.
4. Chebacco Woods
The heart of this location is the fire road loop which encircles some single-tracks. In total 10 miles of trails are at this destination which is owned by Gordon College with some surrounding conservation lands which ensure a tranquil experience. The fire road loop and a few dirt roads are great for kids of elderly riders, but the single-tracks will only really be leisurely if you’re a beginner mountain biker.
5. Weston College Land
Despite its name Weston College Land is actually a publicly owned park owned by the Mission of Weston’s Conservation Commission. There are around 5 miles of marked trails with a few more miles of unmarked single-track, almost all of which is incredibly smooth. This makes the trails amazing for XC riders although that means that they also naturally lend themselves well to beginners. Additionally, it isn’t a highly trafficked area so it’s a great place to find some quiet. Read more at – https://www.westonforesttrail.org/
Mountain Bike Clubs in Massachusetts
New England Mountain Bike Association
By far the largest and most prevalent mountain biking club in many states in New England, NEMBA has the most amount of involvement specifically in Massachusetts. This is probably due to the fact that Massachusetts has the largest number of chapters of NEMBA of any other state. Moreover, members of NEMBA chapters in Massachusetts work with public reservations and preserves to ensure that mountain biking trails throughout the state are well maintained.
Friends of Wompatuck (FOW)
Although, not technically a mountain biking club the Friends of Wompatuck are a volunteer organization which strives to ensure the preservation of the Wompatuck State Park. They are included on this list because of ‘Trailwatch Wompatuck’ the portion of the FOW which are dedicated to maintaining the trails at the park as well as ensuring the safety of its riders. They are easily spotted as they all wear a blue uniform when riding in the trails.
Feature image used with credit from Thunder Mountain Bike Park