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Mountain Biking in the White Mountains, NH

Why Visit the White Mountains for Mountain Biking?

Thanks to more trails, better bikes, and a rise in high-school interest, mountain biking has experienced an increase in popularity in the past decade. And the White Mountains of New Hampshire offer a variety of trails for mountain biking, from beginner to advanced.


Two people on mountain bikes


Best Mountain Biking Spots in New Hampshire

  • Franconia Notch State Park has several trails open to mountain biking, including the Franconia Recreational Path. It is a paved trail that runs 8.8 miles through the park. Several dirt trails are also suitable for mountain biking.
  • Bretton Woods ski area has a network of trails that are open to mountain biking during the summer months. The trails range from beginner to advanced and offer stunning views of the Presidential Range.
  • North Conway has several mountain biking trails, including the East Side Trail. It is a beginner-friendly trail that runs for 1.7 miles along the Saco River. There are also several more challenging trails, such as the Bear Paw Trail and the Kearsarge Trail.
  • On the Pinkham Notch side, near the Wildcat ski area, the Great Glen Trails also offers mountain biking on stunning carriage roads at the base of Mount Washington, with beautiful scenery comprised of rivers, meadows, and of course, some of the most beautiful mountain vistas on the East Coast.
  • Lincoln Woods is a popular spot for mountain biking, with a network of trails that offer something for all skill levels. The trails are located in the heart of the White Mountains and offer stunning views of the surrounding peaks.
  • Cannon Mountain has a network of trails that are open to mountain biking, with options for all skill levels. The trails offer stunning views of Franconia Notch and the surrounding peaks.
  • Waterville Valley has over 30 miles of mountain biking trails, with options for all skill levels. The trails wind through the forest and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Although not technically part of the White Mountains, Kingdom Trails is a popular mountain biking destination located just outside of the area in East Burke, Vermont. The trail system has over 100 miles of trails, with options for all skill levels.


Prepare For Your Mountain Biking Adventure

Mountain biking can be dangerous, therefore, it is recommended that you wear proper safety gear and have the necessary skills and experience before hitting the trails. Also, note that it is essential to respect the natural environment and follow trail etiquette to ensure that the trails remain open and accessible to all.

The Right Bike For Your Mountain Biking Adventure

When choosing a bike, there are several factors to consider based on your individual preferences and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on including:

  1. Bike Types:
    • Hardtail: These bikes have a suspension fork at the front but no rear suspension. They are generally lighter and more efficient for climbing.
    • Full-suspension: These bikes have both front and rear suspension, providing better comfort and control on rough terrain. They are suitable for more aggressive riding and downhill sections.
  2. Terrain:
    • Cross-country (XC): If you plan to ride on smoother trails, prioritize a lightweight and efficient bike with good climbing capabilities.
    • Trail: For a mix of climbing and descending on varied terrain, look for a bike with balanced suspension travel and versatility.
    • Enduro: If your adventures involve aggressive descents and technical trails, consider a bike with longer suspension travel and strong components.
    • Downhill: If you focus mainly on downhill riding, opt for a bike with extensive suspension travel, a strong frame, and downhill-specific features.
  3. Frame Material:
    • Aluminum: Provides a good balance of affordability, durability, and lightweight characteristics.
    • Carbon Fiber: Offers lighter weight and increased stiffness, providing a smoother ride, but comes at a higher cost.
    • Steel: Known for its strength and durability, but generally heavier compared to aluminum and carbon fiber.
  4. Wheel Size:
    • 26-inch: Smaller wheels that offer maneuverability and strength but are becoming less common.
    • 27.5-inch (650b): Strikes a balance between maneuverability and rolling capability, suitable for a wide range of trails.
    • 29-inch: Larger wheels that roll over obstacles more easily, providing better stability and traction, especially on rough terrain.
  5. Components:
    • Suspension: Look for reputable suspension forks and rear shocks considering the amount of travel suitable for your riding style.
    • Brakes: Disc brakes (hydraulic or mechanical) provide better stopping power, particularly in wet and muddy conditions.
    • Gearing: Consider the number of gears, gear range, and drivetrain type (1x, 2x, or 3x) based on the terrain and personal preference.

Remember, it’s essential to test ride different bikes and consult with knowledgeable bike shop staff to find the best fit for your specific needs and preferences.


Clothing and Gear

When it comes to clothing and gear for mountain biking in New Hampshire, here are some suggestions:

  1. Helmet: Invest in a high-quality, properly fitting helmet to protect your head in case of falls or accidents. Look for certifications such as CPSC or ASTM.
  2. Protective Gear: Depending on the level of riding you plan to do, consider additional protective gear such as knee pads, elbow pads, and shin guards to safeguard against potential injuries.
  3. Cycling Shorts: Opt for padded cycling shorts or bib shorts to provide comfort during long rides. They help reduce friction and provide cushioning for your sit bones.
  4. Moisture-Wicking Clothing: Choose lightweight, moisture-wicking jerseys and shorts made from breathable materials. These will help keep you cool and dry by wicking away sweat during intense rides.
  5. Cycling Gloves: Protect your hands and improve grip with a good pair of cycling gloves. Look for gloves with padding and ventilation for comfort.
  6. Footwear: Invest in mountain biking-specific shoes with a stiff sole for efficient power transfer. These shoes often have tread patterns that provide grip when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces.
  7. Eyewear: Wear sunglasses or clear lenses to protect your eyes from dust, debris, and sunlight. Look for glasses with impact resistance and good coverage.
  8. Hydration System: Stay hydrated by using a hydration pack or water bottle cage on your bike. Choose a system that allows easy access to water while riding.
  9. Tools and Spare Parts: Carry essential tools like a multi-tool, tire levers, pump or CO2 inflator, spare tubes, and a patch kit for any repairs or adjustments on the trail.
  10. Trail Map and GPS: If you’re exploring unfamiliar trails, carry a trail map or use a GPS device or smartphone app to navigate and ensure you don’t get lost.


Remember to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and consider the specific demands of the trail you’ll be riding on. Safety should always be a priority, so investing in protective gear and high-quality equipment is crucial. Happy mountain biking!

Man biking in the mountains


Plan Your Mountain Biking Trip to New Hampshire

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