Fort Rock, Henderson-Swasey, Oaklands, Exeter
Exeter & Newfields, NH
Fort Rock is the commonly known name for two separate Town Forests, the Henderson-Swasey Town Forest in Exeter and the Oaklands Town Forest in Newfields. They are separated by Route 101. Joining them together is a large metal culvert that runs under the highway.
The trails here offer almost unlimited technical challenges to the rider who's willing to work a bit. It's almost impossible to ride here without dodging or climbing over a plethora of exposed rocks and roots. And the trip under Route 101 is almost unique in all of New England's riding.
Riding at Fort Rock is challenging. There are too many trails to ride in one outing, so expect to come back if you want to explore everything.
Of the two properties, Oaklands Hills seems to offer the most technical challenge. While Henderson-Swasey has the majority of the more mellow trails.
Henderson-Swasey has some smooth rolling old woods roads. Many of the singletracks leading off of these are quite technical. There is a short graded dirt road and a long gas line that's located near the main parking lot and they offer the mellowest riding on the property.
From the parking area at Oaklands Hills you head down a long old woods road that's turning into a singletrack. Branching off from it you'll find lots of well used singletracks and degraded forests roads. Many of these are very challenging.
While both properties abut each other and are only separated by a highway I find them to be quite a bit different. I prefer Henderson-Swasey when I want a ride that's composed of a variety of riding experiences. Oaklands Hills is my choice when I want to beat myself up more consistently on challenging terrain.
The trails leading from both properties to the culvert are quite difficult, and most people will find themselves getting off and walking at least once.
From Route 101 that the Route 85 Exit. The entrance to Henderson-Swasey is located a quarter of a mile to the south. The parking area for Oaklands Hills is a quarter of a mile to the north.
There are a lot of trails here and it's easy to get lost. Bring copies of the maps when you ride, and if you're hopelessly lost, try listening for the traffic on Route 101.
By Bill Boles