This route is brought to you by Laura Domènech Salgado, one of our 2022 Route Ambassadors who is native to Barcelona, Spain and currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Photo/Video Credits: Laura Domènech Salgado
The first half of the ride is very easy and scenic. It goes through wooded areas along the Mascoma Lake and the Mascoma River.
The terrain is smooth and in good shape, with packed and fast gravel most of the time, so it’s a great route for beginners.
There are some fun climbs and downhills during the second half of the ride, which adds some challenge to the route.
The NH Northern Rail Trail was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal as one of "6 Incredible Bike Trips You Can Do Easily Yourself".
The NH Northern Rail Trail is a popular trail for walking and biking (and permitted uses also include horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dogsledding), so expect to find other people there. Some sections can be a little bit crowded, although the trail is more heavily used past Andover.
Paved roads and car traffic are minimal through most of the route, but during the first and last miles you are in the NH Route 4A, sharing space with cars and other vehicles (but you do so with views of the Mascoma Lake!).
Do this ride if you want a nice beginner-friendly mixed-terrain gravel ride along the New Hampshire Northern Rail Trail and you want to explore other dirt backroads- adding some elevation gain on your way back.
During the first miles you’ll find a funny rope swing to jump into the Mascoma Lake in case you want to refresh before starting to sweat or after you finish the ride.
Grafton Pond is also a nice place to stop and have a quick swim. We found a lot of people cooling off there!
You’ll go through different towns until you arrive in Danbury, where you’ll find some convenient stores to stop and refill your water bottles. However, you’ll ride some miles through dirt backroads with little to no shade after that, and all the climbing is in the last half of the route, so save water and energies for that!
Mascoma Lake Campground was a nice and convenient place to stay, as we started the route right there. Most of the people have RVs but we camped with our tent. The tent sites have fire pits and grills, so we enjoyed a post-ride BBQ there. Also, people at the campground were really welcoming, and we ended up joining them at the “Karaoke Night”!
We stopped for lunch at the Danbury Country Store, an old-fashioned general store with a little bit of everything, from food to clothes. You can grab sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks there. They also have restrooms if needed.
Lucky's Coffee Garage, in Lebanon, is a really nice coffee and breakfast spot, in case you want to go there before your ride. The Ginger Spiced Chai was really good!
Baited Hook at Mascoma Lake is a relaxed family lakeside restaurant located just at the start/end of the route, where you can also enjoy some food, drinks, and/or ice-cream.
There are several places to choose from where you can park:
1) Mascoma Lake Campground (if you plan to stay there) 2) Trail Head: Eldredge Park, Lebanon. 3) Riverside Drive: 13-31 Riverside Drive, Lebanon
Laura is originally from Barcelona (Spain), where she learned to ride when she was a kid. For several years biking was just a sporadic hobby or a way of commuting for her, but that changed when she moved to Boston for work as a psychiatric genetics researcher, in 2019. After her first week in the city, she bought a used Univega Sportour vintage road bike from the 80’s and she started riding to discover Boston and its surroundings. When the pandemic hit, that was her “escape route” and she kept adding miles and miles to her rides. She soon felt that she needed to upgrade to a bike that would let she enjoy dirt and gravel roads and ride surrounded by nature. Thus, she decided to buy a Jamis Renegade S4 gravel bike (Jamis Bikes is a women owned company!) and ended up doing more than 1000 miles in one year.
She enjoys all outdoor activities (when she’s not biking, you can find her playing volleyball, surfing, climbing, or hiking) and she loves discovering new places and routes in New England (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have stolen her heart!). Combining gravel biking with camping is one of the best things that she discovered lately, so she always tries to plan some biking or bikepacking weekend trips to deeply explore (and ride!) new England trails and forests. The perfect ride for her usually involves sharing it with friends and she looks forward to “virtually” sharing it with you too!