North Conway's East Side Trails
Nestled behind Walmart and the outlet shopping centers of North Conway and below The Nature Conservancy's Green Hills Preserve is a fine network of trails known as the East Side trails. The full gamut of the East Side runs from Red Tail Trail at the north end to the Outer Limits/Twilight Zone trails in the recently expanded Green Hills to the south, however this article focuses on the center of the network located between Mt. Cranmore and the Redstone Quarry.
Three trailheads access this centerpiece of the network: Mt. Cranmore (first parking lot on right when coming down Skimobile Road), Hemlock Lane (located at a dead end cul-de-sac between Walmart and The Bike Shop), and Thompson Road. Cranmore and Hemlock both have a kiosk with the Conway Area MTB map in place. Cranmore has some fun singletrack when heading south, and riding through the spooky and ever-changing Ghoullog is one of a kind. Hemlock Lane has lots of space and is close to the historic Redstone quarry, including a massive polished granite column. The Pudding Pond Conservation Area trailhead on Thompson Road is convenient to Sticks & Stones but is a small lot with a lot of use; please consider this 3rd choice.
The trail network is on land owned by Cranmore Mountain Resort, Town of Conway conservation land, State-owned "bypass mitigation" land and some private parcels. The State-owned property consists of 450 acres of land that was purchased for the long-proposed Conway bypass project. The bypass has been put on hold and the land, which would become town conservation land if the bypass is built, sat in limbo for years. It had old woods roads and motorcycle trails on it and has long been enjoyed by mountain bikers. The town offered to manage the land for the state and White Mountains NEMBA assumed maintenance duties, which have included building over 200' of bog bridges in wet sections, rerouting trail sections for improved sustainability & flow, and rock armoring a steep section below the "green granite" quarry.
The network is fairly easy to navigate, with a powerline running north to south on the flat below the Green Hills. Trails also run predominantly parallel to the powerline, with a couple easy trails (Pillar to Pond and Muffler trails) on the west side of the powerline, and a few intermediate trails (Sidehill, Rattlesnake and Swamp) on the hillside above the powerlines.
All trails are bidirectional and flow well in either direction. Because of this, there are no right or wrong route directions and it's easy to mix up rides that have a different feel each time. The quarry area has a number of historic sites, including massive lathes that were used to finish granite from all over New England. A local web site with lots of historic photos is available at redstonequarrynh.org.
By Rob Adair