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10 Great Spring Bike Rides in Central Mass.

Friday, April 19, 2013

 

Spring is great for getting out of doors, and doing it on two wheels allows you to explore all kinds of corners of Central Mass.

Going for a long run or stroll through the park is pleasant, but as everything bursts into bloom this spring, the urge to break out the bike and go for a ride can be much greater. Instead of taking to the usual old roads near your house, take a spin on and try one of these new routes.

1. Waushacum Ponds Rail Trail—Sterling

Anyone looking for a short, easy ride to dust off their biking skills after the long winter—or after a break from biking—should look no further. This flat, stone dust route is a little less than five miles from start to finish; it’s great for beginners, kids, or people looking for a short, relaxing ride. For route maps and directions to the trail, check out http://bikeitorhikeit.org/waushacum_ponds_rail_trail.htm.

2. Wachusett Mountain State Reservation—Princeton

Although the reservation prohibits biking on the hiking trails, anyone looking for a good mountain to climb should consider Wachusett; the reservation offers a paved summit access road stretching 3.1 miles up the mountain and 1.7 miles down. There are also opportunities for mountain biking on the non-hiking dirt paths spiraling up the mountain. For trail maps and more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/wach.htm.

3. Leominster State Forest—Leominster

Mountain bikers should rejoice the numerous miles of unpaved trails found in Leominster State Forest. These 4,300 acres of forest promise some scenic rides, no matter what route you take; bike around Paradise Pond and Rocky Pond, or just stick to the unpaved fire roads—but make sure to stay off the hiking trails. For trail maps and more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/lmsf.htm.

4. Blackstone River Canal and Heritage State Park—Uxbridge

For a more peaceful ride, discover the paved roads next to and around the Blackstone River and Rice City Pond. If you have time to take a break, it’s also a great place for watching wildlife and having a picnic. For directions and trail maps, visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/blst.htm.

5. Grand Trunk Trail—Sturbridge

Cyclists can make this trail what they want to: the Grand Trunk Trail itself is only 2 miles winding around the Quinebaug River and ranges from an easy flat stone dust surface to a moderately difficult surface with a few rough patches. If you feel like going further, however, you can always hop on the connecting Heritage Trail to lengthen your ride. For trail maps and directions, check out http://bikeitorhikeit.org/grand_trunk_trail_letterbox.htm.

6. Nashua Valley River Rail Trail—Ayer

This 11 mile paved trail is popular in the autumn for its colorful foliage, but it’s also very beautiful in the spring and summer owing to a peppering of scenic overlooks along its varying landscape. For more information and a trail map, visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/nash.htm.

7. Ware River Rail Trail—Ware

Escape from the hustle and bustle and life on this quiet, 12-mile trail through the forest. The trail isn’t paved; it is dirt, grass, and gravel, but it’s fairly flat. For more information and for other cyclist’s reviews, visit http://www.traillink.com/trail/ware-river-rail-trail.aspx.

8. Upton State Park—Upton

Cycle through over 2000 acres of shady forest trails—some paved, most unpaved—at Upton State Park. A peaceful and scenic ride, just be wary of hikers! Visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/uptn.htm for directions and trail maps.

9. Mass Central Rail Trail

Snaking through Sterling, West Boylston, Holden, Rutland, Oakham, and into Barre, the Mass Central Rail Trail is an expanse of cycling trail segments that will hopefully in the future become a continuous 100 mile trail. Built on an old railroad, this trail is still good for a few good miles of cycling depending on where you start. For the trail map, be sure to visit http://www.wachusettgreenways.org/WG%20Trail%20Map.htm to plan your route.

10. Boynton Park and Cascades Park—Paxton

For more experienced mountain bikers, these parks in Paxton offer a good 10 miles of continuous climbs and descents. There is also a good steep trail near the east end of the park near the Cascades that is worth checking out. For maps and directions, visit http://trails.mtbr.com/cat/united-states-trails/trails-massachusetts/trail/boynton-park-and-cascades-park/prd_480501_4554crx.aspx

 

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