Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Family Activities: Easy Mountain Biking Trails for Kids

Matt McNamara, Founder and Chairman of the Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA), has some great ideas for easy places to mountain bike. McNamara recommends that young mountain bikers start with simple trails such as the Hardy Road trail system in Wilmington. He recommends this coniferous trail because for the most part the trail is smooth with no significant climbing.

“In the Adirondacks it may be difficult for people to know where to start to begin mountain biking with children,” says McNamara. “It is always about having fun and finding your comfort level.”
“The benefit to the Hardy Road trails is its location to the road,” assures McNamara. “If kids overstep their comfort level it is a quick trip back to the car or a quick hike to Good Luck Ledges.”

McNamara’s Barkeater Trails Alliance is a committee within the Adirondack Ski Council. Donations and a volunteer group of 20 trail builders support the not-for-profit group. All donations are used for trail maintenance. Not only is McNamara using his trail building skills from when he worked for Adirondack Mountain Club, he and others are using their map making background to create an online source of Adirondack mountain biking trails. As a means to raise funds for their organization BETA currently charges for access to the detailed trail maps. Barkeater Trails Alliance is loosely modeled after the Fellowship of the Wheel in Vermont.

“Another place to introduce young people is Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid. The main route is somewhere between a singletrack (a narrow path) and main road. Otherwise the lower network at the Wilmington Flume is a good starting place. All these places give kids the opportunity to take a longer trip. It is about learning how to maneuver the bike and getting a feel for it.”

Henry’s Woods is located on Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid near the intersection of Old Military Road and Bear Cub Road. To get to Hardy Road from Route 86 in Wilmington turn south onto Springfield Road for about 3 miles. Turn onto Hardy Road for another 1.2 mile, parking will be on the right and the trailhead across the road. The Flume trail system is accessed from Route 86 on the other side of the bridge from the Hungry Trout Restaurant.

Photo of biker on the Hardy Road Trail used with permission of the Barkeater Trail Alliance

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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