Leominster State Forest, Princeton
Leominster State Forest, located in the Nashua River watershed of the Worcester-Monadnock Plateau Ecoregion, is one of the best riding areas in the Wachusett area. The forest's 4300 acres offer an amazing variety of trails and old dirt roads to explore. The original land was bought by the Commonwealth as part of the State's Forest System in 1922. Other land acquisitions expanded the forest from 1922-1936, from 1951-1973, and in 1989, 1999, 2001 and 2002. If one were to hike around the perimeter of the forest one would travel 32.9 miles. Over the years Leominster State Forest became a pretty big place. The Civilian Conseervation Corps were active in the forest from 1933-1937. They built many of the forest's roads, waterholes and buildings.
From hilly rugged singletracks, to flowing smooth trails, to difficult technical singletracks, to summer swimming at Crow Hill Pond, Leominster has everything that a mountain biker could desire.
A ride here will acquaint you not only with a variety of riding conditions but will serve to showcase a lot of Wachusett NEMBA's trailwork, including bridges and trail stabilization projects.
In the spring thousands of Rhododendron blooms color the forests trails. So many rhododendrons that along some trails it's almost hard to see anything else.
Stray off Leominster's many well maintained fire roads and you'll discover an intricate web of singletracks. These climb and descend a few low hills as they wind their way through the forest. Some are quite difficult, but most can be ridden by a rider with average skills.
I particularly favor the trails south of Rocky Pond Road, especially the ones to the west of Paradise Pond. There are a few hiking only trails near the forest's main parking area. But most of the trails and all of the old roads in the forest are open to bikes.
In the summer I park in the main parking area and use Crow Hill Pond beach to cool off after my rides. For the rest of the year I park in the dirt parking lot about a half mile south of that on Rocky Pond Road. The Wolf Rock Trail links both of these parking areas together.
Every time I ride at Leominster I kick myself for not getting back here more often. Give Leominster a try and you'll see why. There are weekly rides put on by Wachusett NEMBA members. Check NEMBA's Weekly Ride List to get more information.
From Route 2 take exit 28 and head south. After a couple of miles you'll see the forest's headquarters on your right, and shortly thereafter the main parking area near Crow Hill Pond on your left. This is a good place to park if you're bringing family members who might like to picnic or swim while you ride. However, many people prefer the dirt parking lot about a half mile south of that at the intersection of Rocky Pond Road.
If you park in the main parking area expect to see a lot of people on the trail leading towards Rocky Pond Road. Bring a map with you when you ride as it's easy to get confused and while the DCR map doesn't have every trail in the forest, it will get you back to your starting area. Expect to see hunters during hunting season. (There's no hunting in Massachusetts on Sundays.)
By Bill Boles