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  1. #1
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    Living in Boston area...riding and other outdoors fun?

    I have an option to move to the Boston area (two job possibilities in Cambridge). I don't know much about the area in terms of regional riding, hiking, and other outdoor opportunities. I know about the Whites in NH (been there many times) and skiing in VT. Those are good for longer weekend trips. What about trails/parks etc closer to bean town? Is there much? Suggestions for where I can find info? Trying to figure out what life would be like up there. Thanks.

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    Last edited by 127.0.0.1; 08-01-2014 at 06:30 AM.

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    Hey there llama- It might help a little bit to know where you're moving here from, I relocated for the same reason from the west cost (Phoenix area). I've been here about 4.5 years now, and I've got to say the outdoors options within close proximity to downtown Boston really surprised me. I didn't quite expect as much as we have here.

    1. Although this isn't a map view and isn't even a complete list, this should give you an idea of just how many locations there are to bike and hike in Mass- NEMBA: New England Mountain Bike Association - Massachusetts Places To Ride

    2. Closest to downtown Boston you'll be looking at The Fells in Medford, MA and Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, MA. Also within 128 you can get to Lynn Woods, Needham Town Forest (Just outside of 128), Cutler Park, The Greenway in Waltham/Arlington, Prospect Hill Park in Waltham, Whipple Hill in Lexington, LandLocked Forest in Burlington, Breakhart Reservation near or in Saugus. There are probably more but that's a good chunk of what's available inside or right near the 128 loop.

    3. If you stretch out the range to 495 you probably more than double what's available, both in miles of singletrack and epicness of the riding. Places along Mass's north shore will always be my favorite riding spots, both in terms of technical challenge and just sheer fun to be had there. Lookup Bruce and Toms, School Street, Greenwood, Willowdale, Bradley Palmer, Georgetown Rowley, Lowell Dracut Town Forest, Russell Mill Forest, Groton SF, Upton SF, Vietnam in Milford, Ft. Gilbert in Foxboro, and I could probably go on for days but I've had zero disappointment in the amount and quality of riding available close to Boston. The one challenge can be vert, there's not endless climbing to be had right in the city. I put together a loop in Waltham (near my house) that has just over 2,000 feet of climbing and is an out and back with about 20 miles in length. That keeps me in shape for hitting the huge stuff in VT, NH and ME on the weekends.

    4. As you mentioned, the weekend getaway spots are almost endless from Boston, I've been doing weekend trips since I moved here if you like the gravity thing (I do) then you're in a great spot. Within anywhere from 1 to 5 hours or less you've got Bromont, Whiteface, Plattekill, Killington, Sunday River, Burke, Mountain Creek, Sugarbush (new to the scene), and of course Highland, at about an hour is essentially considered a local riding spot to most of the Boston gravity riders I know.

    5. Beyond the gravity scene you've got literally an endless amount of XC and AM type riding any direction from Boston. If year round riding is important it's good to know you can almost always find dirt singletrack on the cape, there are some exceptions in mud season, but in my almost 5 years (through 2 of the top 20 snowiest seasons Boston has ever seen) I've yet to have to spend more than 2-3 weeks off dirt trails on my bike. Some of my favorite riding destinations are Kingdom Trails in VT, Millestone in VT, North Conway area Trails in NH, Green Mountain Trails in VT, Batchelor Street in Granby, MA has an awesome trail network. Just about every one of these offer 30+ miles of trails with the potential for 3,000+ feet of climbing depending on how you put the trails together.

    I know you mainly asked about local stuff to Boston but I can't help but mention some of the weekend getaways because they really are some of the best systems I've ever been on. If you happen to be moving here from a place like Salt Lake City or a mountain town in Colorado you're probably not going to be excited about the fact that you can't pedal from downtown Boston on to a 200 mile trail with 20,000 feet of climbing and endless smooth singletrack, it is new england and if you don't like rocks and roots the trails will take some getting used to. But if you don't mind the challenge you will no doubt become a better rider learning to ride here. I have no regrets and when I go back West I'm always surprised how much easier things that used to be a big challenge are now.

    Anyways, if you're visiting and want a tour of something post up, I ride just about every weekend and a few weeknights with lights. There's some great group rides that happen at various locations throughout the area as well.

    I don't know much about hiking, however there are trails at blue hills and the fells that are hiking specific, bikes aren't allowed. Blue Hills is the only one I've hiked on ocassion, checkout the skyline trail there.

    Cheers!

  4. #4
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    Living in Boston area...riding and other outdoors fun?

    Thanks for the info!

    I'm outside DC now, which is mediocre (traffic really limits what I ride on weekdays). Bu I lived in Colorado for four years so I do have standards

    I am from New England (southern CT) and have spent time in NH and VT so I'm a little familiar with that stuff. Mostly I'm wondering about trails within an hour of Boston for weekdays and weekends when I don't want to take a road trip. I ski (mostly XC) so snow is great (not much of that here in DC).

    Sounds like it's pretty decent especially given that it's a densely populated urban area.

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    Yeah, I'd say it's decent. Within an hour of the city on a weekday you can do anything I mentioned within 128. I make regular weeknight rides out of the greenway/prospect hill, the fells, lynnwoods, landlocked forest, needham town forest, and vietnam. I work in metrowest, I'd actually argue that working in cambridge you'll have better riding access than I do, especially to some of my favorite trail systems like Lynn, HP and Greenwood.

  6. #6
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    my suggestio

    Quote Originally Posted by llama View Post
    I have an option to move to the Boston area (two job possibilities in Cambridge). I don't know much about the area in terms of regional riding, hiking, and other outdoor opportunities. I know about the Whites in NH (been there many times) and skiing in VT. Those are good for longer weekend trips. What about trails/parks etc closer to bean town? Is there much? Suggestions for where I can find info? Trying to figure out what life would be like up there. Thanks.

    What you'll find around here is most people ride the areas that are closer to them and will
    tend to be a little biased toward those.

    So where in the Boston area you live will greatly affect the feasonability of getting there
    in a reasonable amount of time.

    I live in Everett and my last 3 rides were Harold Parker S.F., Mt. Pisgah, and
    the Lowell-Dracut Town Forest.

    Harold Parker is about a 25 - 30 min. drive for me.

    I'm also a recent immigrant (Tucson, AZ), so I'm still discovering new stuff.
    The trails do take a bit of gewtting used to here, especially if you come from an arid area
    like Colorado or AZ.

    Another good place with longer trails and its only about 1:15 hr. drive is
    Leominster State Forest.
    You'll find that the further west in Mass. you go,
    the more elevation changes will be noticeable during your ride.

    I nrecently looked up Mt. Holyoke Range and found that it would
    be a little much for me endurance wise. (Need to get in better shape first)

    Those are all good places. Ive never been to Blue Hill, so I can't comment.

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    A great thing about the area within an hour or so of Boston is that there are enough trail systems that you can ride for years and years and not hit all of them. There's a pretty good bike scene in NE, and NEMBA and others over the years have done a ton of trail building. Tons of great riding in the area.

  8. #8
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    I've been impressed with the amount of riding within an hour of my house in Salem just north of Boston. I too am a transplant having lived in Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee before moving here in 2007.

    The above posts highlight many of the good rides so I won't repeat them.

    I will add, however, that I found New England riding to be considerably more technical than anything I was previously used to. Rocks, roots, drops, logs, damp slime, washouts, etc... I've ridden over the eastern half of the US. The closest riding comparison I can think of (from my experience) was Slatyfork, West Virginia and maybe the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

    I remember living in Michigan and reading all the forum posts about how wimpy the mid-west single track was. I defended Michigan's trails and couldn't believe the difference could be so stark. Then I moved here.

    Trails that were considered "technical" and "advanced" (Potowatomi, Highland, Pontaic Lake) in Michigan were easier than "beginner" trails in Massachusetts (Willowdale, Fells, Breakheart for example). I used to ride 15-20 miles in 90 minutes in Michigan. Around Boston, I can go hammer for 90 minutes, check my Strava and see I've only covered 5 miles (Harold Parker, Lynn Woods, Dogtown, Greenwood Red-Dot, etc)!

    You'll get used to it and grow to love it. You'll become a better rider.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    I've been impressed with the amount of riding within an hour of my house in Salem just north of Boston. I too am a transplant having lived in Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee before moving here in 2007.

    The above posts highlight many of the good rides so I won't repeat them.

    I will add, however, that I found New England riding to be considerably more technical than anything I was previously used to. Rocks, roots, drops, logs, damp slime, washouts, etc... I've ridden over the eastern half of the US. The closest riding comparison I can think of (from my experience) was Slatyfork, West Virginia and maybe the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

    I remember living in Michigan and reading all the forum posts about how wimpy the mid-west single track was. I defended Michigan's trails and couldn't believe the difference could be so stark. Then I moved here.

    Trails that were considered "technical" and "advanced" (Potowatomi, Highland, Pontaic Lake) in Michigan were easier than "beginner" trails in Massachusetts (Willowdale, Fells, Breakheart for example). I used to ride 15-20 miles in 90 minutes in Michigan. Around Boston, I can go hammer for 90 minutes, check my Strava and see I've only covered 5 miles (Harold Parker, Lynn Woods, Dogtown, Greenwood Red-Dot, etc)!

    You'll get used to it and grow to love it. You'll become a better rider.
    That's a good summary of New England riding if I've ever seen one. I've ridden over much of the southwestern US, and I couldn't believe what this area had to over either. Great stuff and has slappy said, you can spend years riding new areas and not run out of killer spots on your "hit list". I've been at it for almost 5 years now and still haven't covered so many highly regarded areas, add to that the fact that every corner of New England is continually adding more ST and you're pretty much set for life.

    I was also surprised with how accessible the trails are, almost year round. There's been a string of weeks here and there where I couldn't ride on dirt, but I've yet to have more than 4 or so weeks off dirt singletrack, sometimes that means driving to cape but even those trails are a blast.

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    Enjoying reading this thread so far. Great input from all! I feel like most (the majority) people who live in Boston and the surrounding cities have no idea how close they are to righteous mountain biking.

    I personally live in Central MA (outside of Worcester, 40-55 minutes from Boston) and I make "mini-trips" out to Lynn, the Fells, LLF, Blue Hills, and a few other areas over that way because the riding is just so damn good!

    As others have said most of the "good" riding near Boston is quite technical, and some people (depending on where they've ridden) would consider it extremely technical.

    I've had the fortune of riding a decent amount in Colorado and Utah, as well as in every state in New England and I can say with 100% confidence that I enjoy the riding that MA has to offer as much or more than anything I've ridden. I also LOVE how MA is NEVER crowded and 99% of MTBers I come across are awesome, polite, and obsessed with riding!

    Roadies in MA on the other hand.... not the nicest bunch..

  11. #11
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    Living in Boston area...riding and other outdoors fun?

    Good stuff. Not sure yet what we'll do. There are other options too for a potential move. I love mountains and so Boston would put us within easy striking distance of New England's great mountain areas. Knowing that the local riding is really good makes it even more attractive.

    Technical riding is fine. I've ridden WV's best trails many times, and learned to ride in CT.

    Thanks!

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    There's not much like MA. I've tried to ride in every country and state I've ever been in and never seen anything quite like it. I guess PA was close. It's the #2 reason I kept moving back here. It's just crowded enough to keep the the singletrack clear. It's hard to find a crappy place to ride.

    Riding near the city is less tight, hilly and techy than outside of the 128 belt, so I opt for no gears or suspension round the city trails. I used to live outside the 495 belt and that just transforms your riding skills. Makes everything else a bit boring.

    Xc skiing, skate skiing, and snowboarding is good around here too.

    Moving is a big deal. When I moved around when I was younger, I tried to imagine "what if".. What if I, for some reason, wasn't able to ever move again? Would I love the place I'm at? New England's got all I need. Schools, jobs, culture, weather, mountains, water, and riding..

  13. #13
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    Just curious, as a rider who has relocated before, what other options are you exploring?

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    Living in Boston area...riding and other outdoors fun?

    Other options include Denver and staying in DC for a while longer. I love Colorado but there are good reasons for us to stay east.

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    Quote Originally Posted by llama View Post
    Other options include Denver and staying in DC for a while longer. I love Colorado but there are good reasons for us to stay east.
    I've had a lot of friends from here move to Denver. #1 complaint has always been that the access to good trails isn't nearly as good as Boston, since most of the stuff is in the foothills or the mountains, quite a ways from the city and can be snowy a much longer period of the year than stuff around here.

    But career has kept me out east for now, if I did leave I still put AZ higher on my list than CO mostly because of easy access to the things I love to do around the Phoenix area.

    What's the access like in DC compared to what you know from growing up in New England? I've ridden once in White Clay, DE and also Fountain Head, VA, both of those were really fun although not nearly as challenging as the Boston area stuff.

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    This thread makes me feel much better about the fact that in a year and a half of riding I've only really been able to master the "beginner" stuff like Willowdale, Georgetown Rowley, and LLF.

    As a Salemite, tell me about Breakheart? I didn't know there was riding there. Any good?

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    Well, MTBing is not my only priority for outdoor activities. I lived in Fort Collins, CO which has miles of world class trails right outside town. You can ride to all of the trailheads within 30 or 40 min (many are right on the edge of town). For whatever reason, Fort Collins does not have the trail conflicts that Denver and Boulder have, so most trails are open to MTBs. The riding near Denver is ok, but not great. But CO's mountains are like no other mountains in the lower 48 (in my opinion) so the skiing, hiking, climbing, backpacking and mountain biking opportunities are amazing. If outdoor activities were my top priority, I'd pick Denver without a doubt.

    But with family in the northeast, and the fact that my wife prefers the east, we're thinking New England would be a great choice. And this thread has eased any fears I had about being able to access good trails in the Boston metro area.

    I grew up in CT and went to Uconn, so I feel a strong connection to New England. This could be a little bit like a homecoming.

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    I figured I might chime in...I moved to Boston (on the Cambridge/Somerville border) about 2.5 years ago from Boulder, CO, after spending 10 years there. I moved east for a job (biotech is much stronger here than in CO), to be closer to my family, and because I was sick of the Boulder bubble.

    I knew I would be disappointed with the outdoor options and access to them compared to Boulder (biking, hiking, skiing, etc), but I have been pleasantly surprised. I can ride to the fells easily (~30 min) for a 20 or so mile ride door to door. Anywhere else requires the motivation to get out and drive, but have found lots of great trails, all of which are mentioned elsewhere in the thread. The one thing I do miss are epic, long climbs and descents, and buff singletrack. Stuff here tends to be pretty rocky and technical, which I very much enjoy, but finding the 'flow' close to Boston is hard. I'm sure people will disagree...just my opinion, and I have by no means ridden everything available to me. I have found it a little hard to find trail maps and the like, and even when I have them, trail systems here are very complicated spaghetti messes...but getting lost is half the fun.

    Skiing is abysmal compared to CO, but you would be happier here than in DC. I go out to CO once or twice a year to ski, so that helps.

    Give me a shout if you end up moving to Cambridge, I can show you a few spots.

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    Boston is a pretty decent outdoor town. I moved here about 7 years ago from Vermont. The biking is top notch - there are dozens of riding spots within and hour's drive of the city. Not to mention Highland Bike Park is 80 miles away and North Conway, NH and Kingdom Trails are about 3 hours. You'll never get bored of technical biking around Boston.

    If you're into other outdoor stuff - hiking, fishing, kayaking, etc. - the options are endless in Western Mass., Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Most of it is within a 2 or 3 hours drive.

    As for skiing, I ski about 50 days in Vermont. People say New England skiing is bad but I love it. If you're going to ski, stick to northern VT. The snow is deep, the vertical is bigger and the inbounds and out of bounds terrain is awesome.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coloradoxj13 View Post
    I figured I might chime in...I moved to Boston (on the Cambridge/Somerville border) about 2.5 years ago from Boulder, CO, after spending 10 years there. I moved east for a job (biotech is much stronger here than in CO), to be closer to my family, and because I was sick of the Boulder bubble.

    I knew I would be disappointed with the outdoor options and access to them compared to Boulder (biking, hiking, skiing, etc), but I have been pleasantly surprised. I can ride to the fells easily (~30 min) for a 20 or so mile ride door to door. Anywhere else requires the motivation to get out and drive, but have found lots of great trails, all of which are mentioned elsewhere in the thread. The one thing I do miss are epic, long climbs and descents, and buff singletrack. Stuff here tends to be pretty rocky and technical, which I very much enjoy, but finding the 'flow' close to Boston is hard. I'm sure people will disagree...just my opinion, and I have by no means ridden everything available to me. I have found it a little hard to find trail maps and the like, and even when I have them, trail systems here are very complicated spaghetti messes...but getting lost is half the fun.

    Skiing is abysmal compared to CO, but you would be happier here than in DC. I go out to CO once or twice a year to ski, so that helps.

    Give me a shout if you end up moving to Cambridge, I can show you a few spots.
    Buff singletrack? Not so much. I would however recommend Willowdale in Topsfield and Great Brook in Carlise for some smoother trails. Try and organized NEMBA ride in the warmer months, available almost every day with great guides and local trail knowledge.

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    Last edited by 127.0.0.1; 08-01-2014 at 06:30 AM.

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    Good point on skiing. I have no complaints about what we have here, other than I wish there was more snow so we could have longer seasons in the glades.

    I grew up in Utah, and I have to say when the snow comes through here the skiing is top notch, I've by no means experienced some of the best of the East, I haven't yet made it to Stowe, Jay or Burke. But I have been to Sugarbush, Cannon, Killington, Okemo, and a few others. I've found the scene to be much more laid back than the West, I actually like the fact that people aren't skiing in VT and NH just to be "seen" like they are out West. The terrain is very challenging and if you can master ice skiing I don't know anywhere else you can't travel to and handle whatever they throw at you.

    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    Boston is a pretty decent outdoor town. I moved here about 7 years ago from Vermont. The biking is top notch - there are dozens of riding spots within and hour's drive of the city. Not to mention Highland Bike Park is 80 miles away and North Conway, NH and Kingdom Trails are about 3 hours. You'll never get bored of technical biking around Boston.

    If you're into other outdoor stuff - hiking, fishing, kayaking, etc. - the options are endless in Western Mass., Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Most of it is within a 2 or 3 hours drive.

    As for skiing, I ski about 50 days in Vermont. People say New England skiing is bad but I love it. If you're going to ski, stick to northern VT. The snow is deep, the vertical is bigger and the inbounds and out of bounds terrain is awesome.

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    Yeah, tough to compare Boulder to Boston. One is a HUGE city and the other is a smallish sized town. I do like Boulder but there's just no large city I can think of that will ever compare outdoor access to a town of that size. Burlington, VT probably is the closest match I can think of in New England. But I like Boulder's proximity to Denver better and the sunshine of CO is hard to pass up, especially this time of year.

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    Living in Boston area...riding and other outdoors fun?

    Looks like it's going to happen. Offer coming soon, current employer may counter offer. either way I'd likely be coming to the Boston area.

    Time to start investigating where to live. Thanks for the info everybody! I may post up with more questions. Happy new year!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coloradoxj13 View Post
    I figured I might chime in...I moved to Boston (on the Cambridge/Somerville border) about 2.5 years ago from Boulder, CO, after spending 10 years there. I moved east for a job (biotech is much stronger here than in CO), to be closer to my family, and because I was sick of the Boulder bubble.

    I knew I would be disappointed with the outdoor options and access to them compared to Boulder (biking, hiking, skiing, etc), but I have been pleasantly surprised. I can ride to the fells easily (~30 min) for a 20 or so mile ride door to door. Anywhere else requires the motivation to get out and drive, but have found lots of great trails, all of which are mentioned elsewhere in the thread. The one thing I do miss are epic, long climbs and descents, and buff singletrack. Stuff here tends to be pretty rocky and technical, which I very much enjoy, but finding the 'flow' close to Boston is hard. I'm sure people will disagree...just my opinion, and I have by no means ridden everything available to me. I have found it a little hard to find trail maps and the like, and even when I have them, trail systems here are very complicated spaghetti messes...but getting lost is half the fun.

    Skiing is abysmal compared to CO, but you would be happier here than in DC. I go out to CO once or twice a year to ski, so that helps.

    Give me a shout if you end up moving to Cambridge, I can show you a few spots.
    Moving from Denver to Boston at the end of the year and the single thing that keeps me up at night is the lack of flowy singletrack. All of the pics from riding around Boston look like huck to flat.

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