Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest
The Lowell Dracut Tyngsboro state forest is located just minutes from the New Hampshire border and contains over 1100 acres. The trail system offers something for everyone. There are miles of fireroads and smooth rolling doubletrack for the less adventurous. The singletrack system is mountain bike specific and continues to grow. As currently configured, the singletracks will keep most intermediate riders busy for a 2 or 3 hour ride.
The terrain is considered gently rolling except for Whortleberry and Huckleberry Hill located in the Northern sector in Tyngsboro. The park is cut in half running North to South by Trotting Park Road, which is closed year round to traffic. Trotting Park Road is the only paved road you will find in the forest. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in the forest. But remember this forest does allow hunting during hunting season except on Sundays.
To the west of Trotting Park Road you will find Lake Althea and the Scarlet swamp. It is also in this area that you will find the presence of GLICA (Greater Lowell Indian Cultural Association). This group has a lease arrangement with the state for the use of this land for their cultural events. Because of this agreement, there has been very little new trail development in this area. It's important to note that this land is not off limits to the general public. This area is dominated by fireroads, doubletrack and singletrack in that order. One of the most popular trails in this area is the mile long trail put in by the AmeriCorps workers a few years back. This trail has tricky rock garden sections at both ends.
To the East of Trotting Park Road you'll discover the major trail system in Lowell and Dracut. This is where you will find the Spruce swamp, which is the largest swamp in the forest. Approximately half way down Trotting Park Road, on the right, you will find Carney Road. Carney Road is one of several dirt roads in the forest but is the only one that connects back to Trotting park road, and thus back to the main parking lot. It is in this eastern section of the forest that has seen most of the new trail development and trail improvements.
Upon exiting the AmeriCorps trail mentioned above, you can continue to follow singletrack along the Spruce swamp. This will eventually take you out to Carney Road, heading east, where after a short stretch of fire road, you can re-enter the singletrack. By following a series of new and old trails, in a clockwise direction, you will basically do a perimeter loop. Next stop along this loop is the new trail system developed out by Gumpus Road. Here you will have access to about 5 miles of new singletrack that was built primarily as mountain bike specific trails. Here you will find an assortment of rocks, drops and rolls to spice things up a bit. There are several options as to how you can connect the trails together out here to give it a different look every time you ride.
Continuing with the perimeter concept you will eventually make your way back to Carney Road, this time backtracking heading West. After crossing the gravel culvert, look for the fire road to the left. Turning in this direction will allow you to access a mix of old and new singletrack. There is the remnant here of an old rock quarry where three different trailheads converge. All of these trails are unique and have there own special features and are not to be missed.
At this point in the ride you are not far from the parking lot, or the area of the forest known as the "playground". The playground was created by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier about 15,000 years ago. Here is an assortment of rocks big and bigger that can be used to sharpen your hucking skills. From here there are several singletrack options to get back to the main parking lot on Trotting Park Road. Besides this parking area other access points are found on Gumpus Road (Lowell), Totman Road (Lowell and Dracut), Fellows Lane (Dracut), and Althea Avenue (Tyngsboro).
Take Rt. 495 to Rt. 3 north. Follow Rt. 3 North to exit 32. Go right at the end of ramp, onto Drum Hill Rd. go 5 sets of lights you will cross over the Rourk Bridge. Go left at the lights on the other side of the bridge. Go 500 yards then take a right at lights onto Old Ferry Rd. Take a left onto Varnum Ave. After ½ mile, go right onto Trotting Park Rd. Parking lot is at the gate.
Avoid the Greater Lowell Indian Cultural Association area when there are ceremonies going on. Be careful near the parking area as you'll see lots of families, kids and dogs.
By Norm Blanchette