Sunday, September 18, 2011

Russell Mill Town Forest: Packed Full of Flow

Follow the bedrock road.
Recently I had a chance to make the trip up Route 3 to Chelmsford, MA and explore the offerings of Russell Mill Town Forest.

I discovered what many of the Metrowest mountain bikers already know.  Russell Mill has some of the best singletrack in the region.
On a crisp late summer afternoon I set out on Russell Mill's trails to see what it had to offer.  Although much smaller than its neighbor to the west, Great Brook Farm, Russell Mill instantly won me over.

It is clear that alot of thought and care has been devoted to developing a mountain biker's playground at Russell Mill.  First off, the trails are well marked and there are numerous signs to help the uninitiated.

More importantly, the singletrack is ample, and mostly smooth.  While the flow can be found in abundance, there are also technical challenges deliberately built and intelligently incorporated into the landscape.  Log beams and rock ramps are presented all along the trail and bypasses allow those interested in getting their kicks from speed to ride the same trails as all-mountain junkies looking for their technical fix.

The trail that runs between Waypoints K7 and P8 on the map is by far my favorite at Russell Mill and is instantly among my pantheon of favorite mountain bike trails.  It even features a gnome guardian who will taunt you relentlessly for skipping the hero lines.

There is ample parking at the Soccer Fields (130 Mill Road for you GPS devices out there).
The Merrimack Valley chapter of NEMBA runs a nightly ride on Fridays which present an opportunity for those looking to familiarize themselves with the best way to ride the trails.  They are also the ones responsible for developing and maintaining the trails.  Given what I experienced there, they clearly take their hobby seriously.

Given Russell Mill's proximity to Great Brook Farm, if you find yourself with extra time after running laps you can always motor over, grab an ice cream and hit the trails at the Farm for a full day's worth of biking.

My afternoon at Russell Mill ended a little earlier than I had planned.  As I approached a stream crossing I attempted a bunny hop over a small opening between two rocks.  My rear tire didn't quite clear the gap, and slammed down onto the sharp edge instantly demolishing my rear tire.  Perhaps I got a little greedy, or perhaps the gnome had gotten to me.

So if you haven't been to Russell Mill do yourself a favor and get over there for a ride.  Just remember to follow your flow and ignore the forest gnomes.

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