With its rocky and rugged New England terrain, Massachusetts is a great state for mountain biking. You’ll find much of the state’s MTB trails located in its densely populated eastern half in and around Boston.
Just west of Boston you’ll find the Vietnam Trails, which are maintained by NEMBA and known for their flow, technical climbs and collection of jumps.
Cutler Park is located nearby. This unassuming system is hidden in a marsh and features flowy singletrack with plenty of bridges spanning.
North of Boston is Harold Parker Park, which features more than 50 miles of trails ranging from beginner to intermediate.
Head further north up Interstate 95 to Lowell to find Russell Mill, which is flowing, fast and relatively flat with fun features like balance logs.
Head south to the Rhode Island border and you’ll hit flat and wide trails at Village Park, which range from easy to intermediate. It’s an excellent place for newbies to hone their skills.
The western part of the state offers more classic mountain bike riding. Western Massachusetts trails such as Greenfield Ridge offer spectacular mountain views.
Here are 10 of the best mountain bike trails in Massachusettes.
1. Harold Parker State Forest, Andover
Harold Parker State Forest features 35 miles of singletrack split into a network of trails ranging from easy to advanced difficulties. Some of the most sticky technical tracks in the state can be found here, along with root webs, wooden features like duckboards, and plenty of rocky patches.
Riders can travel the simpler green-rated loop or choose the more challenging sampler loop, which crosses a broad selection of the park’s features.
A third option is to follow the Wicked Ride of the East, the route used in the race of the same name, with plenty of tough climbs and peaceful scenery. Located between Andover and Middleton, the park is within easy access by both rail and road.
2. Russell Mill, Chelmsford
For a carefully designed, well thought-out ride with lots of physical challenges, Russell Mill west of Billerica is a clear frontrunner. The singletrack includes plenty of pumps, tight twists and turns, and flowy short downhills.
Best ridden downhill, one of its best features is a long log ride with a short but thrilling drop at the end. Shorter sections can be ridden by beginners, while the whole loop constitutes a satisfying challenge for accomplished riders.
Russell Mill has been gradually expanded in recent years, built and maintained by the local branch of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA). Included are connector routes to the numerous other trails in the surrounding Merrimack Valley.
3. Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro Route, Chelmsford
Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest is a perfect example of the rocky woodlands which make Massachusetts a draw for MTB. The full route runs the gamut from hard-packed easy singletrack to invigorating rock features and boulders.
When ridden as a whole route, riders can expect plenty of short climbs and drops as well as a renowned log ride. Passing along the edge of Spruce Swamp, one can find skinnies and switchbacks along with a number of sudden drops off of scattered boulders.
Although the trail is purpose-built for MTB, maintained by NEMBA, it’s also open to hikers, so take care when coming out of downhills and turns. The route is also open to adventurous beginners or intermediates, with lots of ride-arounds provided for the more difficult features.
4. Cutler Park, Needham
Comprising trails like the Blue Heron Loop, a well-designed pump track, and reservoir paths, Cutler Park packs a lot of variety into over 700 acres. Much of its length is simple, firm singletrack, easily tackled by riders of all abilities.
It passes through miles of wetlands in the largest remaining freshwater marsh of the Charles River, preserving a piece of Massachusetts’ rich natural history. Accordingly, there are plenty of plank trails over softer ground which will require a bit of extra attention to navigate.
In addition to the singletrack, there are a few trails on gravel fire road granting access to natural features. Overall, this trail isn’t too technical, but the abundance of natural beauty is a draw for riders from all around eastern Massachusetts.
5. Greenfield Ridge/Rocky Mountain Park, Greenfield
For those who want to reward their efforts with some of the best views in the western Massachusetts hills, there’s this double-barreled trail complex near Greenfield.
Also called Poet’s Seat or Sachem Head, much of the trail is technically simple, but there are several segments which can require some careful thinking and stamina to overcome.
Starting off on simple, wide doubletrack for several miles, you can enjoy some quick descents before climbing to Poet’s Seat Tower, offering gorgeous vistas of the historic town below.
After that come several exhilarating trails, including one that hugs a steep drop-off and may require a judicious dab here or there. Several flowy trails and steep descents make the back end of the trail as fun as the start is tricky.
6. Robinson State Park, Springfield
Robinson is smaller than many other state parks in Massachusetts, but it’s remarkably densely packed with some satisfying trails. The first couple of miles of the basic loop are relatively uncomplicated sandy singletrack, ideal for beginners or as a warmup.
There’s a good deal of hilly terrain here, with some lightning-fast downhills on the back end. The trails aren’t always clearly marked, so it pays to keep eyes sharp for signs. This is especially important for safety, as there are a number of dead-end trails on which the dead-end is one of a handful of steep ravines.
While this trail network is more often ridden by local riders, it’s complex enough to be worth making a trip to the Springfield area for out-of-towners.
7. Mass Central Rail Trail, West Boylston-Holden
For taking in scenic countryside on the saddle, it’s hard to beat a choice rail trail.
This one, which follows the old right-of-way of the Massachusetts Central Railroad, is a great choice for an easy weekend point-to-point or a family outing.
The surface is largely firm gravel or stone dust, with a few branching singletrack segments which can be a surprising technical challenge if it’s getting too monotonous. Starting out at the far western end of the Wachusett Reservoir, the path follows the north bank of the Quinapoxet River for a couple of miles before crossing the water several times.
The route then passes through hills and woodland before hitting a series of snug switchbacks before dropping out in Holden.
8. Vietnam Trails, Milford
This network of trails is one of the crown jewels of New England MTB.
20 miles of singletrack can be ridden in any configuration one chooses, with lots of smooth singletrack for easier rides and tons of gnarly, rocky, rooty passages.
There are also several tricky jump lines and XC terrain, as well as gravelly fire roads and shady woodland. Drops and rollers of varying difficulty complete the package, making the Vietnam Trails some of the most comprehensive in the area.
This network has come a long way in recent years, with NEMBA managing the trails and keeping it clean, as well as installing newer signage for easy navigation. Everyone from brand-new beginners to veteran cyclists will find something to enjoy on these trails.
9. Colton Road Conservation Area (Rayburn Trails), Millbury
Colton Road Conservation Area is one of the smallest properties on this list at a mere 53 acres. But to make up for that, the trails within twist and turn back on themselves for miles, with lots of rocks and roots latticing the narrow singletrack as it weaves through the trees for a singular challenge.
Due to the constricted space and the multiple switchbacks, this trail is for cyclists with the stamina and patience for a grind of a ride. There are also several wooden bridges in the few sections where a little bit of speed can be built up.
Open year-round, this route is owned and maintained by the nearby town of Millbury. During the summer it’s ideal MTB territory, giving way to more hikers in the fall.