Friday, September 23, 2011

Leominster State Forest: Revisited and Revealed

This summer's third trip to Leominster State Forest recently allowed me to revisit some of my old favorites, as well as explore a corner that I hadn't touched in the years that I had been biking there.

I spent another afternoon in the wilds of central Massachusetts reacquainting myself with trails that I would more readily recognize at night.

On this trip, I found my favorite section of trails in a far corner, which Gered and I had nicknamed Hansel (Upper & Lower) given that the dark forest that surround them look like the kinda place you would lose your breadcrumb trail.
Upper & Lower Hansel.  

The trail starts on Fenton Road and has a short winding section before a steep descent on a well-worn, rocky trail.  After leveling out, it dives again, crosses a wide logging path, and becomes smooth and very fast.  More winding, a little climb, and even more descent eventually drops you out onto a fire road.

After climbing this fire road and taking the first fire road on your left you find the entrance to Lower Hansel on the left.  Lower Hansel is less inclined, but no less fun than its big brother.  You wind around and around until finally dropping down to a spot directly across from Upper Hansel's exit.

In addition to meeting up with my old friend Hansel, I also found myself on a new section of trail near Wolf Den Hill.

The trail winds along below the dramatic cliff face before climbing up and running along the top of the ridge.  It then descends the other side, making use of large rock slabs, boulders and other rock gardens to keep you fighting for balance (and fearing for your life).  It eventually winds away from the rock and becomes progressively smoother.  Like a fading thunderstorm the drama of Wolf Den slowly subsides, and the rocks grow smaller.  This is an extremely challenging trail that will keep you coming back time and again, trying to figure out the right lines.

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