Highland Mountain Bike Park – Is it the best bike park in the United States?
If you live on the northeast of the continental United States and ride bikes, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Highland Mountain before. Highland Mountain Bike Park was built out of an abandoned ski area known as the Highlands and has since been completely overhauled. The newly renovated lodge features a full service bike shop, lockers, first aid facility, modern bathrooms, food court, flat screen tv showing MTB movies, and a full bar. It may sound silly, but all those amenities are important to the overall experience. A few other nice touches are the addition of free Wifi, booths, and view of the hill, which parents of young riders will appreciate.
The main attraction is the actual trail network, and it does not disappoint. What highland lacks in elevation, it makes up for in creative land use ,and offers a wide variety of trails types. Their most famous runs are Hellion, and NE style which both offer big jumps, big drops, and great flow. If Hellion is a bit out of your league, you could spend a whole day lapping Cat’s Paw and Happy Hour, which are both easily accessible to less experienced gravity riders.
Highland Mountain’s Cat’s Paw Trail – Photo credit: Disasterous FilmsIn my opinion, the most important addition to the whole trail network is Easy Rider. It’s the easiest way down the mountain, and immensely helpful to new riders trying it out. There are no jumps or steep grades, just a 5 minute flow trail that gradually snakes down the back side of the mountain.
On the way to the lift, it’s impossible to miss the slopestyle course. This is the same course that is used for the Claymore Challenge (part the 2012 FMB world tour) and it is open to any rider looking to get some real slopestyle experience.
At the base of the mountain, tucked away in it’s own corner, is the skills park. It is a comfortable learning environment where one can freshen up on jumping, dropping, and turning technique before heading up the lift.
Sherwood forest is the most popular set of dirt jumps, and where a lot of the riders congregating towards a the end of the day.
The HTC (highland training center), a indoor training facility for freestyle rider, is home to the only foam pit and resi ramps in New Hampshire. A unique feature is interchangeable foam pit take off ramps which were built to mimic the features found on the slopestyle course.
It isn’t widely known, but Highland Mountain Bike Park even has a great cross country trail network which is open to the public at no cost.
Highland isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty close. It has a mountain bike vibe that you just do not get at any other resort. That is in part due to the fact that it is a Bike Park and only a bike park. It’s not run by some corporate parent company trying to turn a huge profit. It’s a small mountain that set out to offer the best bike park experience possible, and it’s done just that.