The Longest Biking Trail in New Hampshire

Cycling, Bicycle, Mountain Bike, Mountain Biking

Written by Gabrielle Monia

Published: November 6, 2022

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“Live Free or Die” is the bold state motto of New Hampshire, embodying the values of independence and adventure. The White Mountains are a portion of the Appalachian range and cover roughly a quarter of the state. This rugged region experiences some of the most unpredictable weather in the United States. Pedaling through this area is sure to be an adventure. Embody the state motto as you explore the peaks and valleys of the longest biking trail in New Hampshire!

The Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail

mountain bike on sunny day in forest

Spanning 83 miles, the longest biking trail in New Hampshire is the Cross New Hampshire Trail.

The longest biking trail in New Hampshire is the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail. It spans 83 miles across the White Mountains and river valleys of the northern part of the state.

The Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail runs from Woodsville across the state of New Hampshire and into Maine, where it ends in Bethel. It’s an adventurous route made up of mixed terrain. You will pedal along rail trails and bike paths, dirt roads, and paved backroads. The route is a bikers paradise, but it’s multi-use and enjoyed by many. Cyclists share the trail with walkers, runners, skiers, and horseback riders. 

Navigating the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail

Preparation is key for navigating the longest biking trail in New Hampshire. There is limited signage along the route and turns can easily be missed. A downloaded GPS route along with a printed map and cue sheets is recommended for the most successful ride.

Paper maps are indispensable for planning your trip and they are available for free from the website dedicated to the trail. The printed 7-panel folding map is even waterproof and ready to take along. You can send a quick email to have the map sent to you or print it yourself from the PDFs on the site. GPS directions and cue sheets are also available for download with the option to do the 83-mile trail either eastward or westward. Once you’ve completed the route border to border, send an email to the same address for a celebratory embroidered patch and sticker!

The North Country Welcomes Bicyclists Program

The xNHAT, the nonprofit dedicated to the trail, has designed a program that welcomes cyclists by outfitting businesses and parks along the trail with repair stations. The idea is to establish repair stations, tool kits, and air pumps at hotels, restaurants, and other locations along the route to support cyclists as they complete their journey. The program is grant funded and offered at no cost to the participating locations. The Dero FIXIT Workstation is a free-standing workspace that provides tools and an air pump and pressure gauge to riders. The locations of these free-standing stations as well as the participating business locations can be found here.

What Type of Bike Can I Ride?

Bicycles with wide tires like gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrids will be the best choice when undertaking the longest biking trail in New Hampshire. Tires of 32 mm or more are recommended in order to navigate the varied terrain and changing conditions of the trail. With adequate tires, you’ll be able to handle muddy areas, deep puddles, rough gravel, and washboard sections. The trail is called an “adventure trail” for a reason! Road bikes with skinny tires are not recommended for this route. 

Elevation of the Trail

The trail climbs 2,411 feet and descends -2,195 feet. It reaches a maximum elevation of 1,452 feet.

Difficulty and Conditions of the Trail

Cycling, Bicycle, Mountain, Footpath, Hiking

Riders should be prepared for different terrain types.

Each season has its benefits and challenges, so choose any time of year to complete the trail. Before you go, just be sure to check the current conditions of the trail. Conditions can change often so it’s important to know what to prepare for. 

While not an exceptionally challenging route, this trail is named for adventure! Riders should be ready for the unexpected. While there are certainly smooth-sailing sections along the way, riders should be prepared for many different terrain types. At times you will have to navigate bumpy gravel roads, sand and ballast. There are single-track sections as well as grassy two-track, dirt roads, and the occasional pavement. Most riders choose to travel from west to east and that is the recommended direction for the most comfortable ride.

Where to Stay Along the Way

If you begin your journey in Woodsville you can choose to stay at the Nootka Lodge, a participating member of the North Country Welcomes Bicyclists Program. A great place to rest up before your journey! The front desk has bike tools and a pump to use before you set out. The River Meadow Campground is nearby if you prefer to keep the adventure outdoors. All along the route are campgrounds, lodges, B&Bs, and motels. Check out what’s available in each town along the route or just feel it out along the way and decide on sleeping arrangements day by day.

River Crossings Along the Route

Connecticut River

The beginning of the trail is marked by the bridge across the Connecticut River.

The Cross New Hampshire Adventure trail crosses two major watersheds, so you will encounter many bridges along the route. These river and stream crossings are often the ideal places to take in the incredible scenery of the trail. They also provide an opportunity to notice the unique engineering features of each design and how they fit into the history of the region. 

The Woodsville Bridge runs across the Connecticut River and marks the beginning of the trail. This green iron bridge is just the first of many river crossings. Check out the oldest covered bridge in the state just 0.1 miles off the official route. This 256-foot bridge was built in 1829 and can be found near the overnight parking in Woodsville. The longest covered bridge in New Hampshire will also be crossed along the way. From trestle bridges to suspension feats and historical covered bridge designs, you’ll have a plethora of unique architectural avenues to get you across the route’s waterways.

Wildlife on the Longest Biking Trail in New Hampshire

Eurasian beaver eating in water

You can see beavers along the wetlands of the trail.

The wetlands along the longest biking trail in New Hampshire may give you an opportunity to see a beaver or one of their famous dams. If there are any moose along your route their iconic antlers will certainly be hard to miss. White-tail deer are the official state animal and are plentiful in the state. Birds like the purple finch, the eastern bluebird, and various waterfowl are likely to be spotted. Keep an eye out above you for the majestic golden eagle as you ride!

Bicycling can bring you into a state of harmony with the natural world as you travel at a rate that’s aligned with your surroundings. So have fun exploring and be sure to respect the territories you traverse along your way.

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About the Author

Gabrielle is a freelance writer with a focus on animals, nature and travel. A Pacific Northwest native, she now resides in the high desert beneath towering ponderosa pines with her beloved dog by her side. She often writes with a coyote call or owl hoot backdrop and is visited by the local deer, squirrels, robins and crows. A committee of turkey vultures convenes nightly in the trees where she resides. Here, the flock and their ancestors have roosted for over 100 years. Her devotion to the natural world has led her to the lifelong study of plants, fungi, wildlife and the interactions between them all.

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