Senior Cyclists Love Gravity And Vice Versa.

Franconia Falls offer a cooling off spot. Bring your bathing suit! Credit: Tamsin Venn

Pedaling up and down hills on a mountain bike has its rewards, but we prefer trails that have an emphasis on the downhill. We suggest three great places in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at or near ski areas to do just that. Important: We use suspension mountain bikes that absorb the bouncing over roots and rocks.

The Lincoln Woods Trail off the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) just west of Lincoln, N.H., is one good trip. You cross the suspension bridge over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River and follow it on a gradual climb 2.8-mile bed of an old logging railroad (https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/whitemountain/recarea/?recid=74669). At the next bridge, you turn left up the trail to Franconia Falls, which is spectacular with a natural water slide. Go ahead, jump in and cool off. The return trip is a screaming downhill all the way back to the parking lot. You dodge some of the old ties and rails still visible. Total trip 6.5 miles up and back.

Another good coaster is The Franconia Notch Recreation Path (https://www.traillink.com/trail/franconia-notch-recreation-path/). The asphalt path runs the length of the Franconia Notch State Park, following the Pemigewasset River for nine miles, ending at the Flume Gorge, then merging onto Route 3 for the last five miles back into Lincoln. The first leg is a bit of a climb up to Cannon Mountain, then the path drops, tempting you to whiz down the hills after you’ve crawled your way up, but there is a 20 mph speed limit (!)

The path passes Echo Lake, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tram, The Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site, where you can use a brilliant visual gizmo to recreate the old stone face above you (the Old Man tumbled down in 2003). You also pass Lafayette campground (ice cream anyone?), The Basin (icy water cool down?), and finally the Flume Gorge. Bring a lock for your bikes. This trip is eminently doable thanks to Rodgers Ski & Sport (http://rodgersskiandsport.com/) which will shuttle you from its store in Lincoln to the path’s start for $10 a person.

Remember the Old Man? Here’s a unique tool to bring him back, sort of. Credit: Tamsin Venn

Next day, we zipped south to Waterville Valley Resort via I-93. The extensive well-maintained cross-country ski trail system is a blast for biking. You cut through the woods and explore a variety of trails for all abilities through the National Forest. Everything from meandering dirt fire roads to gnarly single-track is available, plus lift access to biking trails on Snow’s Mountain, the first ski trails in Waterville Valley. (http://www.waterville.com/adventure-center/).

Our favorite run is to take the Snow’s Mountain Chair ($9 single ride and $21 all day pass) and zoom down the wide Livermore Road back into town, crossing babbling brooks and wood bridges, in an Eden-like setting. We branch off onto Swan’s Way, a single track, which leads you back to the Town Center. More scenic is to follow the Connector past the Mad River. Then relax outside with live music and cold drinks, even if you didn’t necessarily break a sweat.

Trail junctures post YOU ARE HERE maps (a good printed map is also available), graded beginner, intermediate, expert in XC ratings, so you always know where you’re going.

Do you have a coasting trip you could recommend? We’re open to suggestions.

At the top of Snow Mountain Chair at Waterville Valley. Credit: Tamsin Venn.

One Comment

  1. Tasmin,
    We XC skied on Waterville’s Livermore Road in the spring and I tested the waxless skin XC skis with the moveable bindings. The skis worked great when I moved the bindings backward at the high point of the trail and got great glide back down. Must have been a great downhill on the bikes! See you in Boston

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