Plenty of single track, wide open tractor roads and some solid climbing… a place for everyone to ride!
Most riders who come to ride the trails at 'Stratham Hill' don't realize that they are riding on both private and public land. The Town Park, Stratham Hill Park, and the Gordon Barker Town forest are just over 200 acres of land, about half of that is either open field or wetlands. The rest of the trail network weaves in and out of privately owned land. There about 10 miles of trails, the riding is fast and not very technical. There are three hills (Stratham, Jewell and Long) that can get the heart rate up and offer a sweet reward on the other side. If you are looking for a route to ride with the kids, just check out a topographical map before heading out, as long as you bypass those hills, you should be good to go.
Even though there are multiple trailheads, the most popular place to park and meet up is at the end of Jack Rabbit Lane, just off of Portsmouth Avenue. This parking lot has morphed into the 'dog area' in recent years, but is has proven to be a great place to start your ride. Not too far from the parking area, there is an incredible dirt pump track for getting warmed up for your ride (or while you wait for your buddies). This dirt track is great for kids to learn some basic biking skills and is open to the public for use. It's one of if not the bggest one in New England and it's very popular.
The trails throughout the network vary in difficulty. There are wide open 'tractor' and old logging roads, to single track climbs. With proper planning the riding can be geared towards all abilities. The Town is in the process of creating a new trail map. Once complete it will be available for down load at strathamnh.gov/ recreation. The trails are open nearly year round. If Mother Nature cooperates the Town grooms some of the trails that are wide enough and not too steep. There needs to be at least 6 inches of snow on the ground for grooming to be effective.
The Town also owns a small fleet of Trek Farley 5's and two Trek kids Farley's. Visit the Parks and Recreation website for more information. The Department rents these bikes whenever the trails are rideable. The cost is $25 for a three hour block. Having these bikes right there is a great way to try a fat bike and not have to worry about getting it to the trailhead.
There are a variety of organized events throughout the year. There are races, social rides and events for the family. For the last few winters, the Park has played host to the Polartec Winter Fat Bike Series, the Stratham Parks and Recreation Summer Bike series and the Gordon Barker "No Brakes" Bike Race. If you do more than just ride the trails, new this year there is a trail running series in May and the Fire Tower trail race in August. The series races are typically on Thursday nights. This year will be offering wood fired pizza, so bring the family and make an evening of it. Later in the cycling season we will create a Cyclecross course that will stay up as a practice area.
The Park also hosts the annual Seacoast Velo Kids, 'Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day'. This year's event will be on May 15th. This is a great way to get the kids out early, dust off their skills (and yours) at the skill stations, cruise around the kids race course and get some free schwag. Through the months of July and August Seacoast Velo Kids offers group rides for kids at the Park on Sunday afternoons. They have some loaner bikes if the kids need to borrow one. Check out their website for registration details, seacoastvelokids.org .
The Town of Stratham organizes different volunteer groups to assist with the necessary maintenance of all of the trails. There are ongoing efforts to update and replace some of the bridges and other manmade structures to make the riding experience more enjoyable. If you are interested in getting involved with these efforts, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to the trails in Stratham is rather easy and very convenient. The Park is located just a few minutes off of Interstate 95 and New Hampshire State Highway 101, under an hour from Boston, Concord, NH and Portland. Dogs must be leashed in certain areas on the trails, please obey the posted signs. The trails on Town owned land close to the public at 9 pm. We hope to see you out there soon!